Sansha Travel Guide

Sansha Facts

Chinese Name: 三沙 (sān shā)
Population: 1,800
Area: 2,000,000 square kilometers (772,204 square miles)
Location: in the southernmost of Hainan Province, southern China
Administrative Division: Xisha Islands, Paracel Islands, Zhongsha Island (Macclesfield Bank) and Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands)
Area Code: 0898
Zip Code: 573199

China’s Southernmost City

Sansha, subordinate to Hainan Province, has jurisdiction over the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha Islands and the surrounding sea areas. It is a prefecture level city with the southernmost location, the largest total area, the smallest land area and the least population in China. This city consists of more than 280 islands, sandbanks, reefs, hidden sands, reef beaches and sea areas. The Municipal People's government is located in Yongxing Island, Xisha. Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, Sansha is reputed as the third Golden Waterway in the world and has always been an important place for Chinese people to carry out trade and production activities. The islands of Sansha are scattered in the tropical ocean, forming unique coral reef topography. The scenery here is breathtaking and the sea is so clear that you can find the colorful coral in the offshore.

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Islands of Sansha

Sansha City governs Xisha Islands, Paracel Islands, Zhongsha Island (Macclesfield Bank) and Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands), with its government situated on Yongxing Island, 300 kilometers away from Wenchang City, Hainan.

Among these islands, Xisha Islands are located on the north side, closer to Hainan Island, and contain Yongle Islands, Xuande Islands and other small islands. In general, Xisha Islands have 22 islands, covering 8 square kilometers land area. Among them, Yongxing Island is the biggest one.

Zhongsha Islands are to the south side of Xisha Islands. Most of its landscape is made of atolls under the sea and underwater sandy banks. Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) is the only island that can be seen above sea level during the spring tide period.

Nansha Islands are the southernmost area of Sansha City, with their islands most widely distributed. They have the largest area of underwater sandy banks, hidden shoals and submerged rocks and their land area is only about 2 square kilometers (494 acres). Most of the lands are not suitable for people to live. Among all these islands, the most southern one is Zengmu Reef.

Sansha Attractions - Things to Do

The tourism of Xisha Islands is on the way to be opened. The trial trip of Ship Princess Coconut now has been finished with its route as Haikou - Sanya - the Xisha Islands. The whole journey takes about two days and the single trip takes about 10 hours. The operation date is not decided yet.

Sansha City is as beautiful as the Maldives. Forty meters (about 22 feet) deep sea can be seen there and more than sixty thousand birds perch there. The most worthy sight-seeing places are General Coconut Grove and Maritime Museum.

The grove is located on the west part of Yongxing Island, on which the first tree was planted by a Chinese general in 1982. Until now, more than 206 trees have been planted by many leaders and more than 100 generals in that grove.

The Maritime Museum is the first and only maritime museum established by local soldiers. 8 halls house about 3000 specimens of marine organisms and photos in about 400 categories. The history of this museum originates from an old soldier’s interest. His favorite hobby was collecting shells on the beaches. Because of the lack of things to do, more and more soldiers began to do the same. With the passage of time, more and more kinds of creatures were collected and soldiers turned them into specimens to store. Later this museum was founded to store them and now it is a “must see” place for travelers. 

How to get to Sansha

There is one airport for military use, so most people go there by ship. Because Xisha Islands are not open to the public, only workers, delegations and local soldiers’ family members are allowed to land on Yongxing Island. Qiongsha Ⅲ Supply Ship, the only one ship connecting Hainan Island and Xisha Islands, is the only transportation for them. Four ships are operated in one month, but the sailing date is not fixed. The sea journey lasts 15 to 16 hours after the ship leaves Qinglan Port in Wenchang City of Hainan. The ticket price for a return journey is about CNY 1,600.

At present, if people want to go there, they must obtain a permit from the Working Committee of Xisha Islands and go through some other complex procedures. Then they still need to wait for the information of the sailing date.

Sansha Weather Forecast


Best Time to Visit Sansha

The climate in Sansha is tropical marine, hot and humid all the year round. The annual average temperature is around 28.8 C for Nansha Islands with little temperature differences in the whole year. Rainy days always occur for this city. The hottest month is May and the arid season is from January to April. From May, the typhoons start. So the best time for visiting there is April and May.

Sansha Travel Tips

1. Because of the ultraviolet rays, sun cream, umbrella, hat and sun glasses are necessary. In a word, it is recommended to take all kinds of things to prevent exposure to the ultraviolet rays.

2. The journey will take about 15 to 16 hours, so it is suggested to take some food and water such as cookies, instant noodles and so on, especially for old people and children, because food served on Qiongsha is limited and sometimes you cannot even buy any food. Besides, some people will feel sick on the ship, so it is suggested to take some travel sickness drugs in case of any discomfort.

3. After arriving on Yongxing Island, swimming in the sea is not advised. It may be dangerous in the sea.

4. The period from an hour after the ship leaves Qinglan Port to two hours before the ship lands on Yongxing Island, you are disconnected from the outside, so you must have mental preparation. Being disconnected with others, you are not alone. The beautiful scenery and sea bird accompany you all the way to the island.

 Leisure activity on Island
You may think there would be nothing to do in the evenings on this remote island when you travel there. Actually, there is a café on the island, and it is famous for its Seafood Barbecue and beer. Besides, there is KTV with only three rooms. People on that island have a simple lifestyle and they sleep early at night, so the nightlife there is not so developed as that in some major cities in China. Therefore, it is a good chance for people to enjoy the natural lifestyle of the locals.

- Last updated on Nov. 26, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on Sansha Travel
Asked by got2go | Apr. 04, 2014 00:43Reply
Sansha, method of travel
Is there a website for the cruise ship that supposedly goes to the city? Are there accommodations there and if so, where can you find information on them? I have already tried web searching and travel agents. Does anyone actually know for sure?
Answers (1)
Answered by Zina from SINGAPORE | Apr. 04, 2014 01:02

I'm afraid there is no such an official webiste for the cruise. Except the only supply ship-ferry departing from Qinglan Port at Wenchang City to the city every 20 days, the Coconut Princess Cruise operates the tour to SS city. The cruise leave Haikou Xiuying Port to have a 4D3N tour on Xisha Islands. I heard the Qunfu Island and Yagong Island are the only places that passengers are allowed to get off the cruise for sightseeing!
Asked by don pickells from USA | Jul. 21, 2013 17:47Reply
more information on travel to sansha
1) why is it "dangerous" to swim in the sea ? That is precisely why I want to go with my wife who is from Hainan . 2) Is there any way to stay overnight ? Any rooms to rent ?3) Do any of the islands have property that can be bought or is the land all controlled by the government ?4) What is the best phone number to call to get details about going there ?
Answers (2)
Answered by Luo from CHINA | Jul. 21, 2013 21:07

It may be dangerours under the sea, so it is suggested not to swim without any protection measures.
You can stay there overnight and you can live in the local home style hostle.
They have property transporting from Wenchang city to that island selling there.
If you plan to travel there, it is suggested to consult Hainan local travel agency for help to ask more detail information.
Answered by don pickells from USA | Jul. 22, 2013 02:55

Thanks Luo ,

By "property" I meant real estate property ( land to build a house ).
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