China/Hainan: Haikou – Historic Qilou District

Hainan island is more known as a beach destination, but interestingly the capital town of Haikou dates back to the 13th century and the Ming dynasty and has a large area of old town that bear the historic imprint of many centuries. The historic streets are collectively known as Qilou streets and they all characteristic arcade buildings. The bottom floor was typically a shop or a trading place, while the top floor was living quarters and had an arcade overhanging the bottom, creating shade. Portuguese and French influence can easily be sensed here, and the top of the arcade has elaborate old carvings of chinese writing or flowers. Haikou was a major trading town and port in the 17-19th centuries, and in many ways resembles the historic Macao or Hong Kong. Zero foreign tourists here however, the few Russians rush to the southern beaches, and westerners skip Hainan for mainland China.