History & Culture
Find out more about Haikou's temples and museums.
Haikou Thru The Decades
We have collected old photos of Haikou from the internet to show how Haikou has changed over the past few decades. We believe this is the first detailed English language presentation of this information.
The information is divided by geographic location to make comparison of photos easier.
Arcade Houses in Haikou
'Arcade house' (骑楼 qílóu) is a term used for buildings where the front half extends out over the footpath or sidewalk. A row of such houses creates a long shaded arcade along the side of the street where pedestrians can walk sheltered from the elements. From a distance qilou bear a resemblance to the diaojiaolou (吊脚楼) of western Hunan, where the rear part of the house is built over water.
The arcade house is a particular style of building combining the characteristics of European and Southeast Asian architecture. This subtle blend of architectural elements has its own peculiar style and cultural atmosphere.
The existing arcade houses in Haikou were largely built by Hainanese returning from overseas during the 1920s and 1930s and are concentrated around five old streets: Bo'ai Lu, Zhongshan Lu, Xinhua Beilu, Deshengsha, and Changdi Lu. This area remains one of the liveliest commercial districts of Haikou to this day.
The old commercial quarter has whole streets of decaying arcade houses still in use.
Haikou Clock Tower
Haikou Clock Tower (钟楼, Zhōnglóu) is an important historical landmark. Originally built in 1928, it represents the development of trade in Haikou City. It is also a useful landmark to help tourists orientate themselves in the city and many local buses stop here.
From around the 1923 Haikou's trade started to flourish, particularly with other south-east Asian countries. Haikou become a busy port. The clock tower was built to provide a standard time piece to facilitate trade for all the merchants, customs officials and the transport infrastructure.
The Haikou Clock Tower (aka Haikou Bell Tower) is located on the south side of Haidian River, between the south-west corner of Renmin Bridge and Changdi Road. This is the northern edge of the historical centre of Haikou. It was partly destroyed during the cultural revolution, and rebuilt in 1987.
It is 28 metres high, made from red brick with white lime pointing. It has a European Gothic design which contrasts with the surrounding palm trees.
Below is a photo of the Haikou Clock Tower from 1930:
Haikou has many temples. The most famous is Five Officials Temple (五公祠 Wǔ gōng cí). This is a fairly well known place on the tourist route, ticket price 20 RMB.
There are many small interesting temples that are generally not visited by tourists and do not have an entrance fee. These are real temples that are still part of the local communities. Wander off the main roads into the small hutong back alleys and your bound to find a few. If you do not like tourist places these temples may be more interesting than Five Officials Temple.
Name in Chinese: 海南省博物馆 Hǎinán shěng bówùguǎn
The Hainan Museum opened in 2009 and will give you an insight into the history of Hainan. Sometimes there are collections from outside Hainan. Entrance is free.
Old centre of Haikou
The unique decaying architecture of the old centre of Haikou is a mix European and Asian style. It was built by returning overseas Chinese. The area roughly expands from the bridge at the end of Renmin Dadao (人民大道) to East Lake (Dong Hu, 东湖). Explore the area and hutong alleys and you will get a taste of real traditional Haikou life. There are many small shops and real life community temples hidden in the back alleys.
昌明村 Chāngmíng cūn
This village is located just south of the main entrance to Holiday beach. Turn left on the first road after the Mayflower golf course (if coming from the centre of Haikou) and follow the dirt road for 1-2 km.
The village is very quiet and has some old lava rock buildings, a quite large temple, and some kind of gun tower. I have been unable to find out any history of the village. The village is surrounded by farmland and it is easy to find the villagers at work in the fields.