Xinglong Things to Do
I haven't visisted this theme park, which lies at the northern entrance to Xinglong Hot Springs en-route for Xinglong itself.
It attracts Chinese tourists by the coachload.
The website suggests that it is just another typical Chinese theme park which shows costumes, music, dance all performed by Chinese staff. Everything will be explained in Chinese and will feel ever-so tacky and fake.
However, these are often quite entertaining, especially for children or people who have no opportunity or desire to visit other Asian countries or watch TV or read any books.
I am fairly certain that you can get your photograph taken in different costumes or in front of replica buildings from Asian countries. Ho hum.
First set up in 1957, Xinglong Tropical Botanical Gardens is an extensive and particularly well laid-out place.
It is primarily a research station for the beverage industry, concentrating on the coffee, tea and cocoa but also with vanilla and pepper as a focus. Experimental gardens of all five crops cover maybe half the area, but even this is interesting as it shows how these crops can generally be interspersed with other crops.
Most tropical and sub-tropical fruits and vegetables are here, with a good coverage of Asian garden plants.
Disappointingly there seems to be little emphasis on showing endemic ecosystems or species - a pity, as this area was an area of lowland tropical rainforest, despite the seasonal water stress. So much has been lost from this particular extreme northern variant of this ecosystem that mankind may never know what it looked like or what it contained.
Palms are not as well represented as I thought they might have been: there are large numbers but mainly of specimens seen in every town on Hainan.
The gardens attract coachloads of visitors, and the consequent loudhailer-led groups traipsing through the first section of the garden. However this accounts for less than 1% of the total area of the gardens and you can get away from the incessant cackle within minutes.
The paths and walkways are extremely well-maintained, in a sympathetic manner and the irrigation channels have been landscaped as rocky streams.
A shop sells Xinglong agricultural produce, but nothing else.
2 Hotels in Xinglong
As this is a tourist resort town, there are hundreds of restaurants around the Hot Springs area, less so in the older town.
Even during the off-season (most of the year) there are enough remaning open to ensure a good meal - the main speciality here, as elsewhere in Hainan, is going to be fish.
As well as all the botanical research, Xinglong Botanical Gardens does a good trade in selling local produce and it is cheap here.
The gardens specialise in coffee, cocoa, tea, vanilla and pepper, so these are all cheap.
Note that to most Western tastes, Chinese chocolate is pretty dire stuff!
What to buy: There is a big sales area inside the gardens, near the coffee shop where they serve free tea and coffee as a taster.
Favorite thing: The entrance is at the bottom. The busy part is the area immediately above that. Everywhere else is secluded and peaceful.
Favorite thing: This is the western part of the map of Xinglong. Again apologies for the quality: the map was behind glass in strong light.
The map is really of Xinglong Hot Springs as the old town is across the bridge to the left and not shown. Just across that bridge is a T-junction. Turning right leads to the Botanical Gardens, left takes you into town.
The centre of Xinglong Hot Springs is on the right hand edge around the roundabout.
Favorite thing: The photo quality is not good. The map was behind glass and in strong light.
This is the eastern part of Xinglong Hot Springs. The main road from the expressway is at the bottom right. The main restaurant area is at the cross roads above the roundabout. Hotels are spread around either side of that roundabout.
Old Xinglong is to the west of this....see separate map.
Note that the website indicated on the map doesn't work.