Explore Hainan’s Ancient “Volcano Town”

By Wei Junfan / HICN / Updated: 19:44,12-September-2021

Shishan is a small town with a unique volcanic landscape and lush, green countryside scenery located at the foot of Mount Ma’anling in Xiuying District, Haikou.

1.Take A Deep Breath in the Volcano Park

With ancient volcanic rocks covered by verdant tropical vegetation,Haikou’s Volcano Park provides visitors with spectacular views of igneous rock rarely seen elsewhere. The density of negative oxygen ions in the air here is very high, making the air fresh and invigorating, just like a natural “oxygen bar”. As you climb to the peak of the volcano, the highest geographical point in Haikou, you’ll see sweeping, panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside.

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Volcanic soil is filled with selenium plus other trace elements which make it difficult to grow regular crops, but the soil suits dendrobium orchids quite well. The local dendrobium garden is filled with quietly elegant dendrobium orchids, nodding their heads gracefully in the gently breeze. This is the perfect place for a floral-themed photo shoot!

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2. Ancient Villages Under the Mountain

In Shishan Town, the ancient villages that lie nearby the Volcano Park, including  Meifu Village, Changdao Village, Meishe Village,  and Rongtang Village are definitely worthy of a visit. Here, you can see the traditional local lifestyle and customs that have been passed down generation after generation amongst the local residents. Meifu Village, whose name means beautiful and prosperous, was founded over 600 years ago, and has been named a Five-Star Beautiful Village of Hainan Province.

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For hundreds of years, local residents in Shishan Town have used the volcanic rocks that abounded in  the area to construct striking looking gun towers, ancestral halls, temples, wells, homes, and more, many of which are still in perfect condition and in regular use. Here, you will feel that you have entered a world built entirely of stone.

Examining the blue-grey volcanic stone architecture, you’ll see the traces of hundreds of years of the everyday lives of the local residents, and strolling down the winding, mossy green flagstone paths, you’ll feel you have wandered back in time. If you are lucky, you may even find the hidden, gorgeous “seventy-two cave” system, each cavern leading to the next via mysterious, dark underground passages, and filled with underground karst formations. This lost Garden of Eden looks stunning in photos.

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Surrounded by green tropical vegetation, the locals enjoy harmony with nature. The village’s hundred-year-old Upas, or Antiaris  Toxicaria tree, is still covered with fresh green leaves.

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3. Enjoy tasty “Volcanic” Food

You can’t miss trying some healthy, “green” food when you visit the Haikou Volcano area. Here, the villagers have perfected the art of cooking with locally sourced ingredients. There’s plenty of great cuisine here to choose from!

The Moringa Farm Restaurant serves mouthwatering moringa chicken soup, and the Xingyun Restaurant has dry-fried mutton served with sauce in a clay pot. 

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The Qianlan Food Garden is famous for dendrobium orchid mutton soup, which you are advised to enjoy when it is hot and fresh. Yum! 

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Shishan Laofen is a rice noodle shop that’s currently trending online. The pure white handmade rice noodles paired with flavorful sauces are sure to please the palate.

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At the Kuolin Farm Restaurant, the signature dendrobium orchid chicken soup is rich and filling. If you like it spicy, you can try dipping your chicken in some chili sauce.

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The Liwan Farm Restaurant has a dish that’s popular with the locals -fragrant mutton. Topped with sauce and dotted with scallions, the mutton is irresistible.

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At the Weizhiyuan Restaurant, they serve braised pork, a dish the chef says is not easy to prepare. The pork to seasoning ratio has to be carefully adjusted, and the level of heat has to be perfect to make every bite melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy, and sinfully delicious.

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Next time you are looking to get out of the city, head to Shishan Town and spend the day hiking through the amazing volcanic landscapes of the Volcano Park, exploring local culture in the ancient villages, and filling your tummy with the local flavors of this beautiful north Hainan region.

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