In our latest episode of Discover, we visit Sanya – on the southern tip of China’s Hainan Island. The city is putting itself on the tourism map when it comes to health and wellbeing. Boasting beautiful scenery, hot springs and traditional medicine, it is a tropical retreat for visitors, looking to relax and rejuvenate.
Hainan Island has a track record for long life with some of those living here reaching 100-years-old. But what’s the secret? Euronews’ host Damon Embling visited to find some answers. First stop was the Nanshan Cultural Scenic Area.
Nanshan Cultural Scenic Area.
Known as the Longevity Valley, in this area visitors coming face to face with those who have reached (very) old age. We asked sales manager Nan Jiang why the valley is linked to long life.
“It’s shaped liked a turtle, and that animal represents a long life in Chinese history,” he said. “I think there are maybe two reasons, the first one is the environment, people in a better environment will live longer. And the second one, maybe their healthy eating habits, they eat vegetarian food instead of high energy foods.”
In search of a healthy and happy life, many tourists come to Sanya to access traditional Chinese medicine treatments. Looking for alternatives to treat aches, pains and other conditions, up to a third of the patients seen by this clinic daily are from overseas.
One of them is Moldovan Lina Bezyazykova who has cervical spondylosis, affecting joints and discs in her neck. She’s come to Sanya for acupuncture treatments to help relieve headaches and back pain.
"I'm very glad I came here. The doctors are very professional. There are nice interpreters here; I don't have any problem with communication. I feel very good now; I am having the sixth procedure. I'm not taking pills anymore and I do feel very good."
Associate Chief Physician Sa Ren works at the Sanya Traditional Chinese Medicine Retreat Center. He says many Europeans are now recognizing the value in Traditional Chinese medicine.
"There are many external therapies and treatment methods, we're just using acupuncture right now. We also have hot compressions, mud therapy; these are some of our traditional Chinese medicine methods. But now, acupuncture is the most appropriate approach"
Another popular choice is Tai Chi. The gentle movements are drawn from ancient Chinese traditions – designed to help people find their inner zen. The Tai Chi group is being led by mother and son, Xinhong Guo and Tengfei Shen.
“Tai Chi can regulate your mental and physiological balance, helping energy and blood flow smoothly, your body can achieve very healthy goals. I have many foreign students who come to learn Tai Chi in Sanya. They have unhealthy bodies, high blood pressure, heart disease or lower back problems. After a period of Tai Chi, they can return to a healthy state," said Xinhong Guo.
Hot springs are also a big attraction for those coming to Sanya, to give their health a boost. Luxury resorts have been created, with these steaming wonders at their heart.
Doris Dia works at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton. Here the Hainan Qixianling Hot Spring is surrounded by tropical rainforest gardens and offers magnificent mountain views, but they aren’t only for relaxing, Dia says.
“Hot springs are really good for health and fitness."
If you’re looking to relax and recharge your batteries, it certainly seems Sanya is the place where you can really find your inner zen.