China’s jewel onlyaflight away
China Southern Airlines is opening doors to China behind which travellers might not otherwise have seen.
With the chill of winter hovering ominously around the corner, many will be looking longingly at warmer climes for holidays that will foreshorten the colder months.
The challenge is to find a location that provides new experiences, unfamiliar sights and cultural differences that enlighten.
One of the doors opened by China Southern Airlines leads to Hainan Island, off the coast of China, and its beautiful southernmost city of Sanya.
The city is renowned for its tropical climate and, with six glorious bays, it boasts the finest white-sand beaches in Asia.
With more than 300 sunny days a year and a climate that bestows warm winters and not-sohot summers, Sanya produces exotic flowers that bloom all year round.
The annual mean temperature is 25.8deg C and water temperatures remain above 20deg C year-round.
Three-fifths of the Sanya is forest-covered and more than 40 percent of the urban area is occupied by public green space.
Sanya’s air quality ranks first among all cities in China. A United Nations air quality survey over 148 cities in 45 countries from 1998 to 2003 ranked Sanya first in Asia and second in the world. Its hotels, resort and spa centres, golf courses, diving places and scenic spots are worldclass.
Those whose travel agenda is influenced by the richness of a destination’s history will find much to savour during a visit to Sanya whose ancient name is Yazhou (which means ‘‘cliff state’’).
It dates her birth to the Qin dynasty (221BC to 206BC) and, due to its remoteness from the political centres during the imperial eras on Mainland China, Sanya was sometimes called Tianya Haijiano meaning ‘‘the end of the sky and ocean’’ or ‘‘the end of the earth.’’ As a result, the city served as a place of exile for officials who found themselves out of favour with the country’s rulers.
Christchurch is 9410km from Sanya with an average flying time of 15 hours 30 minutes.
China Southern Airlines flies direct from Christchurch to Guangzhou three times weekly, with easy connections to Sanya as well as Haikou, on Hainan Island’s northern coast.