Wenchang is a county-level city located in the north east of Hainan province, China. It was promoted from a county to a city on November 7, 1995, and had a population of 86,551 in 1999 (estimated 2006: 115,000). It is 63 km southeast of the capital, Haikou.
The city is not as "modern" and booming as Sanya. It is rather like a showcase on the lifestyle of ordinary Hainanese. With only 520,000 residents there, it is home to 1.2 million overseas Chinese mainly resided in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. These immigrants brought home with their unique lifestyle. During the day, people enjoy hanging out in a (kinda) cafe with a cup of tea and a slice of cake for Y1-2. At nights, they may play table tennis, sing KTV and dance Tango in Wenchang Park.
The city also has a huge coconut plantation with more than 500,000 trees shadowing the beach resort area. The water quality is not as clear as certain beaches in Sanya, but the area is largely unspoiled by tourism. Tourism-related scams and crimes are almost unheard of. The friendliness of local people have made it an appealing alternative to Sanya.
What to see in Wenchang
Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, (near Wenchang). This is a former sub-orbital test center and currently under upgrade. It is the fourth and southernmost space vehicle launch facility (spaceport) of China. It has been specially selected for its lowest latitude, only 19 degrees north of the equator, which would allow a substantial increase of payload mass, necessary for the future manned program, space station and deep space exploration program. Therefore, it will replace the obsolete Xichang Satellite Launch Center upon completion of upgrade works. Furthermore, it will be capable of launching the new heavy lift CZ-5 booster currently under development. Rail tracks of inland Space Centers will not allow the delivery of the new 5 meters core boosters, which Wenchang will, as it is served by a sea port. Initial launches of the CZ-5 booster from Wenchang were, as of early 2008, expected in 2014, one year after the intended commissioning of the Wenchang Center.
Confucius Temple: One of the best preserved examples of ancient architecture in Hainan. The temple was first built during the 11th century, after repeated renovation and expansion since the Ming Dynasty.
Tonggu Ridge provides an easy escape from the busy downtown of Wenchang and have a stunning view on the coastline of Hainan island covered by hundreds of thousands of coconut trees. At Wenchang Bus Station, take a 1-hour bus to Longlou and change a tuk tuk taxi to Tonggu. The drivers will either take you to the entrance of Tonggu (Y10-15) or up to the submit (Y30-40). The road is well-constructed and paved and it only takes 40 minute walk to go to the top. To avoid troubles, you better arrange when the drivers should take you back to Longlou. The last bus from Longlou to Wenchang leaves at 7pm but taxi can be found anytime.
Dongjiao Coconut Groves: A beautiful quiet spot to spend a few days. Across from the bus station in Wenchang is a local bus stop which has buses that will take you to a ferry crossing to Huang Qiu Pier. From the pier, take a 3 kilometer tuk tuk ride to the Dongjiao (around Y5). There are a good number of basic guesthouses and restaurants along with a resort on the sea. English is not spoken, but the local people are friendly and eager to help.
Gusong Village: Ancient, unique, beautiful, non-commercial traditional Hainanese village, a hidden gem. Experience the living customs and luminous culture of the Hainanese. The villagers are accommodating and organize everything for visitors, including local ancient town tours, beautiful Tonggu Mountain tours to view the entire northeast coast of Hainan Island, beautiful non-tourism-polluted beaches, the very unique traditional villagers fishing near Gusongcun Bay (depending on the season). The village houses are bright and in beautiful undiscovered and isolated beaches. Private guided arrangement can be organized with villager. RMB50-100 per/person depending on the number of guests.
Abalone Farm, Longlou Town, Gusong Village. Experience the shallow water diving for wild abalone. Abalone are not bi-valves like clams or oysters. They are snails. Gross, yet cool. The farm produces almost 100,000 abalone a year. The water is changed daily, dumped out through fine membranes to catch the microscopic babies which are then laid back in clean water. The hoses are also used to inoculate the tubs with algae-plugs of green stuff are allowed to form in the hoses and then blown into the tub to make seaweed slushies. Visitors can buy the fresh live abalone at a very reasonable local farmer price. Most of the abalone production is delivered fresh. Live abalone can survive for 30 hours.