Experiences - Asia

Spotlight on coconuts and the hainan international coconut festival

With its exotic tropical fragrance and versatile flesh, it’s no wonder the world has gone nuts for coconuts.

In Thailand, it’s used to flavour everything from coconut ice cream to rich massaman curries. In Malaysia, coconut stars in breakfasts of putu mayam and kaya toast, and in aromatic curries, such as this kapitan chicken curry.

Thai cococnut ice cream recipe

On the Chinese island of Hainan, there’s an entire festival devoted to the king of nuts. Once called ‘The Coconut Island’, Hainan is home to the Hainan International Coconut Festival. It is celebrated during the first 10 days of April and has a history that stretches back to 1992. Hainan’s coconut-led cultural heritage and customs take centre stage during the festival, but it’s not all fun and games (even though there are plenty of those). This unique festival is used to promote commercial talks and economic interests; exhibitions showcasing stamp and coin collections are on display too.

There are four major activity sites on the island. Head north to Haikou City to find a street that shows off a diverse and stunning collection of coconut lamps.

These unique lamps are typically made from the coconut’s shell and are then drilled and tapped to create striking, one-of-a-kind patterns. Out in Wenchang county, fresh coconuts are prepped and waiting for festival-goers to taste. In Tongshi City, there are wedding ceremonies and ancestor worshipping ceremonies of the Li and Miao ethnic minorities. For more adrenalin-pumping pursuits, seek out the international dragon boat races and martial arts contests.

Gala celebrations and variety shows are held too.

The festival also sees restaurants showcase a range of local delicacies. Make time to sample Hainanese dishes, including some of the island’s most famous fare: wenchang chicken, jiaji duck, dongshan lamb and hele crab

Learn about the 8 amazing health benefits of coconut milk.

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