Sanya Bay
Location Sanya City jurisdiction in Hainan
Location Sanya City jurisdiction in Hainan
Sanya is located in Hainan
Location of the city centre in Hainan
Coordinates (Sanya municipal government): 18°15′10″N 109°30′42″E / 18.2529°N 109.5117°E / 18.2529; 109.5117Coordinates: 18°15′10″N 109°30′42″E / 18.2529°N 109.5117°E / 18.2529; 109.5117
CountryPeople's Republic of China
LandformHainan Island
 • CPC Municipal SecretaryJiang Sixian
 • Prefecture-level city1,905 km2 (736 sq mi)
 • Urban
1,905 km2 (736 sq mi)
 • Metro
1,315.3 km2 (507.8 sq mi)
 (2020 Census)
 • Prefecture-level city1,031,396
 • Density540/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density540/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
 • Metro
 • Metro density610/km2 (1,600/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+8 (China Standard)
Postal code
Area code(s)0898
ISO 3166 codeCN-HI-02
Licence plate prefixes琼B
Sanya (Chinese characters).svg
"Sanya" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese三亚
Traditional Chinese三亞
Literal meaningThird below the second
Landscape of beach in Sanya.jpg

Sanya (Chinese: 三亚), also spelled as Samah is the southernmost city on Hainan Island, and one of the four prefecture-level cities of Hainan Province, in Southeast China.

According to the 2020 Census, the total population of Sanya was 1,031,396 inhabitants,[1] living in an area of 1,905 square kilometres (736 sq mi). Nevertheless, its built-up (or metro) area encompassing Haitang and Jiyang Districts was home to 801,020 inhabitants as of 2020.

The city is renowned for its tropical climate and has emerged as a popular tourist destination, also serving as the training site of the Chinese national beach volleyball team. Sanya is home to small concentrations of Utsul people. It is also the location of Yulin Naval Base a major military facility on the South China Sea which is home to the People's Liberation Army Navy ballistic nuclear missile fleet.


Known in ancient times as Yazhou, postal romanization: Aichow (崖州), literally "cliff state or prefecture", Sanya's history dates to the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BCE). Due to its remoteness from the political centers during the Imperial China eras on Mainland China, Sanya was sometimes called Tianya Haijiao (天涯海角), 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 favor with the country's rulers.

During the Tang dynasty, the Buddhist monk Jianzhen accidentally landed here, using the site as a staging post on his missionary journey to Japan.[2]

20th century

Sanya (1962)
Sanya (1962)

In 1912, Yazhou became Yaxian (Yai-hsien) (崖县; postal: Aihsien). Japan then occupied the area during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and the city then became a naval port for the Second Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the main embarkation point for the Japanese Invasion of Malaya and Thailand.[citation needed]

In April 1950, the People's Liberation Army took over Yaxian County from the Nationalist government during the closing stages of the Chinese Civil War. In October 1954, the administration of the CPC Yaxian Committee relocated from Yacheng to Sanya then in 1958, administration of Yaxian relocated from Yacheng to Sanya and Yaxian merged with Baoting, Lingshui, Niulou, and Xinglong, Wanning, to become a large county. In 1959 and 1961 these areas were separated to establish Baoting and Lingshui while Yaxian County remained in its current prefecture. Approved by the State Council of China, Yaxian was upgraded to Sanya City on September 26, 1987 and on December 30, Sanya City was officially established.[3]

In 2007 the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee announced that the city of Sanya would become the first leg of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay in China.[4]


Sanya city map
Sanya city map

Sanya lies at the southern tip of Hainan Island on Sanya Bay, and, after Sansha (also administered by Hainan Province), is the second-southernmost prefecture-level city nationally. Located at 18° 15' N latitude, it is about as far north of the Equator as the Island of Hawaii is. Though the administrative area (Sanya City) has a rough topography, the city itself is generally flat, lying on a parcel of land between low-level mountains to the north and the South China Sea.


The area has a tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen Aw),[5] featuring very warm weather all year around. Monsoonal influences are strong, with a relatively lengthy wet season and a pronounced dry season. The coolest month is January, at 21.6 °C (70.9 °F), while the hottest, unlike much of the rest of China, is June, at 28.8 °C (83.8 °F); the annual mean is 25.8 °C (78.4 °F). Water temperatures remain above 20 °C (68 °F) year-round.[6]

Climate data for Sanya (1971–2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 30.4
Average high °C (°F) 26.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 21.6
Average low °C (°F) 18.5
Record low °C (°F) 5.1
Average rainfall mm (inches) 8.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 3.4 3.6 3.9 5.6 10.0 14.0 13.8 16.0 17.0 13.5 6.6 3.7 111.1
Average relative humidity (%) 84.3 85.8 83.9 80.4 76 73.8 72 73.5 79.5 81.8 82 82.8 79.6
Average ultraviolet index 9 11 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 10 9 8 11
Source: Weather China[6] and Weather Atlas[7]


Before July 30, 2014, there were direct jurisdiction over four county-level districts and two township-level subdistricts (乡级管理区; xiāngjí guǎnlǐqū), six towns (; zhèn) and four state-run farms in Sanya City. Now there are four districts in Sanya.

District Simplified Chinese Hanyu Pinyin Population
(2010 census)
Jiyang 吉阳区 Jíyáng Qū 257,061 372 691.02
Tianya 天涯区 Tiānyá Qū 269,935 944 285.94
Haitang 海棠区 Hǎitáng Qū 76,562 255 300.24
Yazhou 崖州区 Yázhōu Qū 160,000 347 460.10


In recent years Sanya has become a popular tourist destination. Numerous international five star hotel chains are now established in the area. In 2009, the luxury Mandarin Oriental, Sanya hotel opened in the Dadong Hai area, the first Mandarin Oriental property in Hainan Island. There are now over 100 hotels, ranging from international brands to locally managed resorts.

Russian and English signs can be seen throughout the city. In response to claims of over-charging of tourists (whether foreign or Chinese) at restaurants in the city,[8] Hainan government officials and Sanya city officials have vowed to crack down on the practice.[9] The Sanya Industrial and Commercial Bureau has implemented a real-time information system of the city's seafood restaurants during the May Day holiday for public supervision in order to stop any future price gouging by restaurants.

Nature reserves of Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Forest Park (亚龙湾热带 天堂森林公园) and Sanya Coral Reef National Nature Reserve (三亚珊瑚礁国家级自然保护区) are located nearby Yalong Bay, and Yalong Bay National Tourism Holiday Resort was created. In recent years, as the waters of Sanya Bay and others below mentioned are becoming clearer and healthier, several species of dolphins, including endangered Chinese white dolphins, appear along the coasts from time to time. However, they have not been considered as targeted tourism attractions.[10][11]


The city is served by Sanya Phoenix International Airport. Taxis are available throughout the city.

Buses from other parts of Hainan serve Sanya's bus terminal. The No. 8 bus connects the airport to Dadonghai Beach. From there tourists can take the 24 or 25 bus to Yalong Bay or the 28 bus to Haitang Bay. There is also a free bus from Luhuitou Square to the Duty-Free Shopping Center at Haitang Bay, the largest such center in China.

Hainan East Ring Intercity Rail

The Hainan East Ring Intercity Rail links Sanya and Haikou and runs along the east coast of Hainan Island. There are 15 stations in between, either in operation or still under construction. Trains are designed to travel at 250 km/h (160 mph). Travel time from Sanya to Haikou is approximately 1 hour and 22 minutes. The Hainan Western Ring High-Speed Railway, running along the west coast of the province also links Sanya to Haikou.


Main article: Sanya Tram

Sanya tramway.jpg

Sanya's tram service began trial operation on 7 January 2019.[12] Trams are composed of five carriages with a maximum seating capacity of 362 people. In built up and urbanised areas, the maximum speed of the tram is 50 km/h. The current tram route begins at Sanya Railway Station and finishes at Jiankang Road Station. Full operation of the first line started on 10 October 2020.

Social services


There are a total of 54 hospitals in Sanya as of March 2019, both public hospitals funded by the state and private hospitals. And numerous clinics for doing annual health-checks, which are usually brands of national chains in China, such as Ciming Healthcheck.

Hainan 301 Hospital, a branch hospital of People's Liberation Army General Hospital, is located in the Haitang Bay area of Sanya.[13] The hospital possesses a substantial number of state-of-the-art equipment for medical and research purposes which include a Da Vinci surgical system, different MIR system (including 1.5T MRI 3.0T MRI), Helical CT facilities (including 128-Slices CT), medical linear accelerator and electronic microscopes which are worth more than 450 million yuan. The hospital has 500 patient beds, and a total of 74 clinical, medical and nursing departments.

Sanya Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital (三亚市中医院) is located on Fenghuang Road.[14] It is a grade-A tertiary hospital offering medical care, education, research, healthcare services and International Chinese Medicine exchange and cooperation.


Colleges and universities

See also: List of universities and colleges in Hainan

Sanya University (三亚学院) Located at Xueyuan Rd., Yingbin Ave. Sanya Hainan 572022. Sanya University is an independent undergraduate university. The University has fourteen schools: Social Development, Law, Finance and Economics, Management, Tourism Management, Humanities and Communication, Arts, Foreign Languages, Engineering, Physical Education, General Education & Foundation Courses, International Tourism, International Education and Music, and other, and offers 56 undergraduate majors.[15]

Qiongzhou University (琼州大学) is located at 1 Yucai Road. The only public university located in Sanya, Qiongzhou is actively pursuing more foreign enrollments, hoping to attract Chinese tourism and language students to the city.[16] Courses offered to international students are: elementary Chinese, intermediate Chinese, advanced Chinese (listening, speaking, reading and writing), English, Russian (listening, speaking, reading and writing), Chinese calligraphy and painting, Chinese martial arts, Chinese history, studies of Li and Miao Cultures, tourism and recreational management, and music performance.

Primary and secondary schools

The city government states on its website that "Being the second-largest city in Hainan, the education in Sanya is relatively better than the average level in Hainan Province" but that the kindergartens are not as good as those in major Chinese cities and that the primary and secondary schools are still below the Chinese national average.[17]

According to the city government, Primary schools No.7 and No.9 Primary School are the best ones in the city and that Bayi Primary School "is also of good quality".[17] The city government identifies the best lower secondary (junior high school) and upper secondary (senior high school) institutions as Sanya Shiyan Middle School and Sanya No.1 High School, respectively.[17]

The International School of Sanya (formerly Canadian International School of Sanya) is the first school to offer two programs: Canadian and Mandarin, in Hainan. The school has announced its relocation to the BanShanBanDao -Serenity Coast (半山半岛) residential area in August 2014, where the new campus will offer pre-K. day students and boarding facilities for students.[citation needed]


The city has hosted:

Sister cities

Country City Date
 United States Alhambra, California 1994.10.05
 Philippines Lapu-Lapu 1997.07.19
 France Cannes 1997.11.17
 South Korea Seogwipo 2008.04.04
 Mexico Cancún 2010.08.10
 Russia Khabarovsk 2011.11.28
 United Kingdom Blackpool 2016.09.06
 Malaysia George Town, Penang 2017[22]



  1. ^ (in Chinese) Compilation by LianXin website. Data from the Sixth National Population Census of the People's Republic of China
  2. ^ "Sanya history". Sanya Municipal Network Information Center. 2009. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
  3. ^ "City overview". Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  4. ^ "Beijing Olympic torch relay kicks off in Chinese mainland". Xinhua Agent. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  5. ^ Peel, M. C. and Finlayson, B. L. and McMahon, T. A. (2007). Updated Asian Map of the Köppen climate classification system. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 11: 1633-1644.
  6. ^ a b 三亚城市介绍 (in Chinese (China)). Weather China. Retrieved 2011-05-27.
  7. ^ d.o.o, Yu Media Group. "Sanya, China - Detailed climate information and monthly weather forecast". Weather Atlas. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  8. ^ Fauna (2 February 2012). "Sanya Restaurants Ripping Off Customers, Fleecing Tourists". Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  9. ^ Yiming, Huang; Dan, He. "Hainan vows to stop price gouging". China Daily. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  10. ^ 2016. 海南海洋生态保护良好,成为大型珍稀海洋动物的“乐园”. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  11. ^ 三亚凤凰岛海域出现海豚成群嬉戏美景. Hainan. 2016-06-22. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  12. ^ "Sanya City Trams Have Started Their Trial Runs-Hellosanya". Retrieved 2020-01-06.
  13. ^ Hainan 301 Hospital
  14. ^ Sanya Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b c "Education in Sanya" (Archive). City of Sanya. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  18. ^ "Comprehensive News — Coming Soon".
  19. ^ "Haitang Bay Gloria Sanya appointed as sponsor hotel for 2012 Sanya Int'l Beach Musical Festival". Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  20. ^ "Sanya joins season five Formula E calendar".
  21. ^ "Sanya City 2020 Asian Beach Games". Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  22. ^ "Forging friendship city ties between Penang and Sanya - Community | The Star Online". Retrieved 2017-04-21.