Typhoon Chasing – Hainan Island to Yangshou, China

A short trip from Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Sanya to Yangshou turned into a nightmare. Running from lashing rain and tree-uprooting winds. Instead of eating seafood by the beach we found ourselves following Typhoon Haiyan’s rim.

Global warming heating the Philippine Sea brought the 12th strongest tropical cyclone on record killing over 3,000.  Like a 250-mile-diameter car wash it whisked south-west flattening the edge of Hainan Island to Vietnam, before boomeranging north-east into China’s Guangxi Province.

1)   5th November: Hong Kong train to Lo Wo border – over to Shenzhen in Mainland China and train to Guangzhou. Time: 4-hours. Cost US$16.

Chinese Hard Sleeper Train2)   7th Nov: Train T201 Guangzhou to Sanya, Hainan Island.  Time: 16-hours. Cost: US$63 hard-sleeper (six comfortable bunks in an open compartment). Amazingly, the train carriages uncouple to stack side-by-side to fit on the boat for an 18-mile sea crossing while you sleep. No bridges!

Watermelons on Hainan Island3)   8th Nov: At the station we hired a car for six with driver to take us around  for US$66 a day. Stayed at Sanya Backpackers Hostel, Dadong Hai. Fantastic place run by a friendly Singapore guy – close to the best beach on the island. Cost: US$26 night/room.



Typhoon from Bus, Hainan Island, China4)   10th Nov: Typhoon Haiyan got us drenched running for a taxi to Sanya Railway Station, where our 2-hour high-speed train to Haikou Airport was cancelled. Six-hours bus later after missing the flight we stayed overnight at a nearby hotel. Picture shows just before the driver lost the windscreen wiper.


Yangshou5)   11th Nov: 13.15pm JD5515 Beijing Capital Airlines to Guilin. Time:1.3-hours. Cost: US$110. Local bus to Yangshou and stay by the river in Hua Cui Hotel (US$16 night/room). I must have been to Yangshou a 100-times over 25-years, and it’s changing fast. Almost all the old Western restaurants have been replaced by noisy Chinese KTV bars. However, they can’t spoil the scenery.

Li River, Yangshou6)   12th Nov: Bamboo raft to take six from Yangshou to Fuli Village. Time: 1.3-hours each way. Cost: US$42, including 2-hours waiting time. For more on this area, see my previous blog Travelling to Paradise – Yangshou & the Li River.


Shangrl-La Yangshou7)   13th Nov: Hired a van for six with driver to take us to sites like the Dragon Cave and later to Guilin for US$58. Then 21.18pm soft-sleeper train Guilin to Guangzhou.  Time: 11.5-hours. Cost: US$64.



8)   14th Nov: Evening Pearl River Cruise. Time: 1.5-hours. Cost US$10 a head. Boats run frequently every evening – but illuminations are only from 7.30pm to 10.30pm.

Pearl River, GuanzhouGuangzhou Tower







9)   15th  Nov: Return to Hong Kong.

Saya Beach, Hainan IslandSeafood on Hainan Island isn’t as good as Thailand or the Philippines as the best is exported – but there is still a feast waiting at the many BBQ eateries. Cost is reasonable, but beer at sea-view restaurants is at London prices. The most we paid to feed six with at least ten-dishes of shellfish, fish, chicken and many BBQ bites and beer was US$120.

Fish at Sanya, Hainan IslandA fun place to dine is on a boat from Sanya’s Red Sand Wharf. Sampans ferry dinners there for a seafood buffet for US$13 a head.  However, we missed out because we misunderstood the price included the food too!

For the 6-seater car in Sanya call (86) 13034978098. The Hua Cui Hotel in Yangshou call (86)15878365366 0r 13597300266 (usually no need to book).

Hainan to YangshouSee my personal site at NigelHayMckay.com
Video coming soon.