The mountainous centre of Hainan is certainly worth exploring. Travel to the centre of Hainan and you can find beautiful rural landscapes, mountains, waterfalls, small towns, and minority villages.

The centre includes: Qiongzhong, Wuzhishan, Baoting, & Baisha Counties.

If traveling from north to south, Qiongzhong (137 km from Haikou) is when you really start to enter the centre of Hainan. Travel on to Wuzhishan (a further 75 km south) and perhaps try some trips into the surrounding mountains and villages. Baoting is an attractive town further south. The nearby hot springs at Seven Fairy Mountain make a good relaxation place after a hard days cycle. Each of these 3 towns have cheap Chinese hotels to stay at.

Wuzhishan MountainWuzhishan is the highest point in Hainan. It reaches 1867 metres. It is situated in central Hainan, about 30km from Wuzhishan Town. The name comes from its five peaks.

Name in Chinese: 海南五指山国家级自然保护 Hǎinán wǔzhǐshān guójiā jí zìrán bǎohù qū. Or more simply just 五指山 wǔzhǐshān, which means Five Finger Mountain.

It is a protected nature reserve and contains primitive rainforest. It costs 15 RMB to enter the area.

To get to Wuzhishan by public transport you first need to get to Wuzhishan Town. From the main Wuzhishan Town bus station you can get a bus to Shuiman Village (about 10 RMB). Then you can get the shuttle bus from Shuiman to the mountain (5 RMB).

Li mud houseSource: http://www.cjvlang.com/Photos/hlaihouse/hlaihouse.html

Thanks to Hainan government policies, traditional Hlai (Li) houses have become a rarity in Hainan. This section features shots of a few Hlai houses, just near Tongzha (now known as Wuzhishan), which I managed to visit in October 2003.

Taking the photos was a somewhat hurried affair. I told a Chinese friend that I wanted to see some authentic Hlai housing. He said that there were a few remnants still around Tongzha, and promptly took me there. After taking a few external shots, we rather unceremoniously asked the owner if we could look inside his house. He was most obliging, and the photos below are the result.

Chitian Reservoir near Sandao 09Spent a few days in the south of Hainan exploring the area around Sandao town (三道镇, Sān dào zhèn). We found some new bicycle and kayak routes. The Hekou river which feeds into the Chitian reservoir was particularly fun to explore. We found old broken dams and some fun roads that lead the back way into the Yanoda Tropical Rainforest Park.

Here are maps of Wuzhishan, Qiongzhong, and Baoting towns in central Hainan.

Decided to take the long way back from Sanya to Haikou. Drove along the central ‘highway’ which takes you through the mountainous centre of Hainan Island. The scenery was incredible. The road is very winding and goes up and down the mountains and gives rise to some great views. It passes through some towns and many small villages. You can spot simple buildings constructed from mud and wood. I believe these belong to some of the minorities of Hainan. Had a quick stop at WuZhiShan and also made a slight detour to BaiHua Waterfall. It had started to rain a little and so the path leading up alongside the waterfall was wet. Unfortunately this seemed to be the signal for leeches to appear. Removing them from feet and ankles was not a pleasant experience. Must return to BaiHua Waterfall on a dry day. Overall the journey was fantastic and certainly worth the extra time. No trip to Hainan would be complete without a journey through the centre.

This time on the way back from Sanya to Haikou I turned left off the central highway at ShiYun and headed towards HongKan Waterfall. The mountain formations around here were spectacular. There were some good looking waterfalls in the valley below and a couple of very large waterfalls at HongKan. No road led to them and there wasn’t even an obvious foot trail so we had to admire them from a distance. Will have to return to this spot when I have a few days spare and attempt a hike to the base of the waterfalls, hopefully the jungle won’t be too thick.