In recent years Sanya has become a popular tourist destination. Numerous international hotel chains are now established in the area.

Sanya lies at the southern tip of Hainan Island at Sanya Bay.

Known in ancient times as Yazhou, postal romanization: Aichow (崖州), literally “cliff state or prefecture”, Sanya’s history dates to the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BCE). Due to its remoteness from the political centers during the Imperial China eras on Mainland China, Sanya was sometimes called Tianya Haijiao (天涯海角), meaning “the end of the sky and ocean” or “the end of the earth”. As a result, the city served as a place of exile for officials who found themselves out of favor with the country’s rulers.

During the Tang dynasty, the Buddhist monk Jianzhen accidentally landed here, using Sanya as a staging post on his missionary journey to Japan.

The city has hosted:

  • Boao Forum for Asia Annual high level forums for world leaders focused on the Asian region and its stakeholders.
  • 2014 WTTC Global Summit Keynote speakers: Kofi Annan, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dame DeAnne Julius, Yao Ming
  • 2011–12 Volvo Ocean Race Leg 4 Start to Auckland
  • 2011 BRICS summit
  • Elite Model Look in 2008 and 2009
  • Miss World contest in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010 and also will in 2015
  • Mister World contest in 2007
  • World’s Strongest Man contest in 2006 and 2013
  • 2012 Sanya International Beach Musical Festival
  • 2013 ITF Women’s Circuit – Sanya
  • 2014–15 Volvo Ocean Race In-port race and Leg 4 Start to Auckland

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