While local guidebooks mention dozens of fascinating day trips, the only one that I could personally recommend is a one-way trip back to the airport. The Yantian salt flats (Qian Nian Gu Yan Tian) at Yangpu on the NW coast were the filthiest part of the island that I visited, although that was quite an achievement in itself here in Hainan.

Surfers should head across to Longlou on the east coast where condition are said to be acceptable. Boards are available for hire at the Haikou Banana Hostel (tel. 0898/6628-6780), tucked away off Renmin Lu.

The old crystal mines at Tunchang (Tunchang Shui Jing Kuang) were a semi-interesting day trip, although by the time you read this the whole area might have been turned into a theme park. Buses leave every hour from the West Bus Station for charging ¥87 ($13/£6.30) for the 3-hour trip. From the bus station, head along Dong Fe1ng Zhong Lu and then out along town on Changsheng Nan Lu. Pass the Mingyuan Hotel and turn right just before the Sinopec gas station. A stroll will show that most of the crystal mine workshops have been converted in pig sties or left to rot. Up on the left is the entrance to the old quarry where crystals and shards litter the ground. There are usually a few locals scrounging around for some nice examples although the signs state that the whole area is about to be developed into a new "Huangshan Park."

I made the mistake of crossing the road to explore the rest of the area. After trudging around acres of slash-and-burn wasteland, all I discovered were leeches and mosquitoes. Worst of all when I sat down for lunch, I was immediately harassed by a pair of king cobras, the larger one being at least 3m long. Now I understand why most visitors to Haikou never step out of their resort hotels.

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