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Sometimes referred to as the “Hawaii of Asia," Sanya is a beach lover’s paradise and a favorite escape for affluent international travelers. Before you head to this sun-drenched spot on the South China Sea, our Forbes Travel Guide editors share four basic tips to keep in mind to help ensure your visit goes smoothly.
1. If you’re traveling from the United States you’ll likely first fly into Hong Kong, then take another short 1.5-hour flight on to Sanya. While you won’t need a visa to visit Hong Kong, you will need to obtain a visa for China ahead of time to avoid any delay when you arrive in Sanya. The visa process is fairly straightforward: You’ll just need to drop off your application, along with your passport and a passport photo, in person at the nearest Chinese embassy and can pick it up about four working days later, unless you request rush service. Single- to multiple-entry visas for American citizens currently cost $130.
2. The favored mode of transportation in Sanya is a bicycle, which of course won’t help you much when you’re lugging around two heavy suitcases. Call your hotel ahead of time and arrange for transportation from the airport.
3. Though Sanya is relatively small in size, the Sanya Phoenix International Airport handles a large number of daily flights and can be somewhat overwhelming on busy days, particularly if it’s your first time in China. Baggage claim is on the first level of the airport, and is also where you’ll clear customs and meet your pre-arranged transportation.
4. Though Sanya is Asia’s top up-and-coming resort destinations, what it has in luxury hotels it still somewhat lacks in first-world amenities. Hospitals and urgent care units are still being built in Sanya, so make sure you have a plan ready in the event you get sick. Most of the hotels and resorts on the island have an English-speaking medical staff, but if you’re seeking common American over-the-counter relief you’ll be disappointed. Make sure to pack antacids, pain relievers, antibiotics and any other medication you might need, because there’s a good chance you won’t find it here.