If you do a google search on the words “Sanya” and “seafood”, you will find many people posting their bad experience of getting ripped off by some seafood restaurants in Sanya (taxi scam is another very-common tourist trap in Sanya).
By learning about this ahead of time, we became more alert, and had our expectation adjusted for the challenges to come. Yet, nonetheless, it was a big turn off, for what we wanted was an absolutely carefree and relaxing vacation. And this would be almost impossible if we had to keep a vigilantly attentive mind all time (well, if you don’t mind being scammed, then, that’s not a problem of course :P).
Since a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation was the priority of our Sanya trip, we thought that if things really turned out so bad, we could just stay in our hotel (Kempinski), enjoy its private beach, German beer, and other facilities.
So, with an alerted mind, we went to the seafood-restaurants-congested Youyi Road in the city center for dinner. And things didn’t turn out to be as terrible as we had expected. Yes, it could be a bit intimidating for tourists, especially for those who are not used to aggressive sales pitch, which keeps pushing one to make an order as quick as possible, allowing no time for one to think clearly.
In fact, we didn’t see many westerners eating in these restaurants. Apparently, most of them stayed in their hotels.
But, things really aren’t that bad. Don’t get pushed into the first restaurant you pass by on Youyi Road. Take your time and shop around first. Before you order, ask the restaurant if there is any service charge, cooking fee, or other miscellaneous charges on top of the seafood itself. And let everything weigh on a scale. Check whether they key in the right price and use the right indicator to determine the weight (they may ‘by accident’ take the wrong one :P).
By keeping your order and all charges clearly listed ahead of time, the surprise is taken out of your bill. Yet, this doesn’t mean that the seafood there is of a good deal. For example, a simple meal for two in the cheaper end, with shrimps, a small fish, some kind of clams, and a local veggie dish, costs around RMB 150/person. This is just like the Hong Kong Saikung price, if not more expensive. And on top of that, the food in Saikung tastes better.
But come to the end of it, Hainan is known for its fresh seafood. So don’t worry about getting ripped off, go ahead and give it a try. As long as you keep track of your order and have everything clearly listed, it should be ok. Who knows?! You might find some very good, tasty deals on seafood there!