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Arcade Streets

Arcade Streets is an iconic example of Haikou’s unique and colourful culture and history. It is a must-see when you visit the city.

Walk through the neighbourhoods and your eyes will be drawn to a fusion of Asian and European architecture, with hints of Arabic and Indian influences thrown in. An eclectic mix, coming together to form traditional arcade buildings, or arcade houses.

Many of them were constructed by overseas Chinese returning from Southeast Asia, initially being formed from the 1800s to 1940s. They are reminders of the past and Hainan’s Nanyang (Southeast Asian) culture.

But the oldest structure in the area is the Sipai building, which dates back around 600 years, to the Southern Song Dynasty.

Many of the buildings you will come across have been sympathetically restored, breathing new life into an area that is popular with locals and visitors alike.

Arcade Streets is the collective name for more than 30 arcaded streets featuring some 200 arcade buildings in all. You will find almost 40 of them in Zhongshan Road. Others are dotted along Deshengsha Road, Xinhua South Road, Boai Road and Jiefang Road, among others.

The arcade buildings stand between two and four storeys high, with ground floor set back from frontage, creating a storefront which is sheltered from the sun and rain.

Living quarters are typically upstairs, which extended over the walkway below and propped up by columns which are so typical of their style. Take time to admire the beautifully designed handrails, door, and window frames which, as you may recognise, are in the Baroque style.

The Arcade Streets cover an area of around two square kilometres, with around 600 different structures to see in all.

These historic buildings have seen and experienced so many different residents and events over the years. More than a dozen different countries have opened all sorts of things in the Arcade Street area, like consulates, banks, and chambers of commerce.

Today, the Arcade Street continue to play an important role in Haikou’s economy. A living example of the city’s rise to prosperity over the years.

As well as the amazing architecture, this area is also a great place to sample some traditional foods.You may even be luckily enough to catch some opera or a traditional performance in the open atrium. You will find snack vendors elsewhere too, tempting you with the smell of things like cumin-roasted corn.


Near Zhongshan Road, Longhua District, Haikou (海口龙华中山路附近)

Travel Tips

To avoid the crowds, the best time to snap some photos of this architectural gem is in the morning. Try to get to the streets around 9 am, to beat the crowds. The shops will still be closed, and you will have more of the place to yourself.

That is not to say you should not visit later in the day. When the traders are in full swing, the area takes on a life of its own. Be prepared to haggle hard to pick up a bargain, do not be afraid, it is the way things work here.

An after-dark visit is also a good choice, to see the Arcade Streets under the night lights and observe the leisurely lifestyle of the locals.

The Arcade Streets area is open all the time and entry is free. There are lots of public transport links to get to the main area. But the easiest option is to take a taxi. Tell the driver to take you to the gate of Arcade Streets (骑楼老街).

Nearby Attractions: Evergreen Park, Haikou Mova Mall, Baishamen Park, Haikou Clock Tower