Have seen lots of messages posted asking about the whole China thing so thought I'd let you know how we got on as we have just done it. We flew to Hainan on 21 May and came back on 4 June.
The flight was great as there were 200 empty seats so we could lie across the seats! This was probably because we were the second ever British lot to go there so people are probably a bit scared about the whole thing. We stopped at Bahrain to refuel and were able to disembark. Bahrain airport is beautiful, duty free great and there is a 'MacDonalds' type place. Going to Hainan, we were hanging around for about an hour and then sat on the plane for at least half an hour but this apparently was due to paperwork that usually was completed by the pilot electronically which he had to do by hand. Coming back, we literally got off the plane, looked in one duty free shop and were just browsing in the next when our flight was called. We got back on the plane and took off straight away.
Our hotel in Hainan was the Landscape Beach. Beautiful location, wonderful scenery. Hardly any Chinese spoken but they are very efficient and courteous. Rooms are lovely, sunbeds very comfy. It was quiet the first week then there were more Chinese (and Russians) around the second week. There is a laundry service which is excellent. The drinks in the hotel are expensive but there are some shops just outside where you can fetch a drink for a fraction of the price. Everything is cheap anyway. Our rep (David Wilkinson) was fantastic. He was the go-between if you needed anything at all communicating to the staff or had a problem. Nothing was too much trouble. Obviously, there were teething troubles, being the second only party to visit the hotel from Britain, but things improved as we went along and added to the whole experience. If you are reading this, thanks again David for the loan of the holdall and the short term loan of Yuan and Hong Kong dollars!!
The nearest town is Dadong Hai. A taxi there costs 35p (about 5 mins away). Sanya City is further but still only cost around £1.40. There are lots of shops and restaurants etc in Dadong Hai and even more in Sanya City. It is a real mix of the old and the new. High rise buildings with fruit sellers walking below. You do get stopped by people trying to sell you things but usually if you say No once, they just go away.
In Dadong Hai, there is an American diner type place called the Rainbow. Go there. The food is great and cheap and the atmosphere and service very good. We ate there quite often and if we didn't, we used to end up there at the end of the night. Another restaurant in Dadong Hai that must not be missed is the Blue Lotus. It is a Russian & Chinese restaurant. The food there is cheap and delicious. We tended to order several dishes and try each others (four of us). We never ate at a bad place. Don't be scared, just try stuff.
The trips were good value for money too. We went to Monkey Island. The journey there is great on its own due to the sights you see. The view from the cable car is great and the meal at the restaurant at the beautiful hot springs place was brilliant.
We also went to Beijing. The flights are great, hop on, hop off. Everything goes smoothly. Lots to see and do and it is tiring but great at the same time. Just keep going and take it all in. The Great Wall was the best, but there is so much to see and do it's all wonderful. Eating out in Beijing was an experience. We went to a locals restaurant and had a meal for four people plus drinks for £7! The communication was not that difficult. The menu was in Chinese and English on four sheets of paper. We wrote down the number of each thing we wanted and waited for it to arrive. They turned out to be skewers of food. Then if they don't speak English, they use the calculator to show you how much things are.
We went to Hong Kong. Don't go on a day trip - stay overnight. Again, eating out is great and everything is cheap. The view from Victoria Peak is spectacular and the light show from Hong Kong harbour at night is a must.
My advice would be not to take too many clothes etc and buy loads of things there. You can barter in most shops, all markets but not Dept stores.
The food itself is very varied. Yes, there are weird things like lamb's testicles, chicken claws etc but there is normal food as well. If you are a bit picky or a vegetarian, you may struggle at times (as I did) but the best advice is to take packs of Alpen bars and oat cakes just in case you can't find anything you like at the time (like when you are on the journey to Beijing, sigh-seeing etc). It takes three and a half hours to get to Beijing. We had some nuts and a drink first then a meal on the plane. However, if you go to Hong Kong (about one and a quarter hour flight) you just get some green tea and dried fish - yuk!. This is after an early start so that's when the Alpen bars come in.
I could go on and on (already have). If anybody wants to know any more, just post a message.
Have a fantastic holiday.