Harbin is located in the North of China. It is known for its very cold weather at negative 20 degress usual temperature on average. I was very curious about this place as they call it “The Land of Ice” and this made me search more about it. Just in time for the Ice Festival, my husband and I decided to welcome 2017 in Harbin.
Exploring the city made me think I’m literally in a Winter Wonderland because we can see ice sculptures everywhere around the city and also the freezing weather! Not to mention, the Sun Island and Ice Snow World showed us more of how big and beautiful the ice sculptures are in Harbin. We were very happy to witness the festival that even our faces was freezing.
We spent our first day in Sun Island. Sun Island is a location for a lot of giant snow sculptures. It is a fun place to visit during winter to purely enjoy the HUGE snow sculptures but it is also the best natural summer place in Harbin.
We adore all the unbelievably massive snow sculptures and enjoyed looking at them despite the cold and frosty weather. Thanks to our warm clothings from Uniqlo.
How to get there: Bus 88, 85, and 80 go to Sun Island Station. Then you can take a cable car from there.
Operating Hours: 8:30 am to 7 pm (ice festival season) 8am to 5pm (regular non- ice festival days)
Ticket fare: RMB 240/ adult regular ticket; RMB 260 for combo ticket including admission & tour bus; RMB 530 for combo ticket including seeing Russian performances.
Ticket fare: RMB 30 for adults for admission to the park area only. (regular non- ice festival days)
ZHONG YANG STREET
We always wanted to end our day at Zhong Yang Street in Harbin. The whole street is filled with various restaurants and cafés to delight after a tiring trip around the city. The central street is worth every visit not only because of the restaurants and cafes but also because of the European Architectural Art. This will give you a lot of European vibes while in Harbin.
How to get there:
Take bus no. 2, 4, 23, 24, 56, 65, 74, 79, 85, 126 or 201, get off at Flood Control Monument (Parkson Shopping Plaza) Station and then walk around 150 yards (130 meters) along Youyi Road to reach there 0r take bus no. 21 or 105, and get off at Jingwei Street (Central Street) Station.
ST. SOPHIA CHURCH
In 1997, the church was turned into a museum that features multi-cultural and architectural evolution of Harbin throughout the years.
This area makes me feel that I’m in Europe because of the beautiful architectures of the church. This is really a must seen when you’re in town.
How to get there:
Take bus no. 1, 5, 20, 53, 61, 85, 113, 114, 130 or 206, and get off at Zhaolin Street Station.
ICE AND SNOW WORLD
On our 3rd day, we visited Ice and Snow World. It has a bunch of world’s finest art carvings from ice. Each year the ice carvings are made based on the festival’s theme enabling travelers to see a variety of cultural flavors.
I also advise to visit this during night time to see the multicolored lights flash at the ice sculptures. I was in awe with the beauty of every ice sculpture around me. It is literally like an Ice Heaven!
How to get there:
Take bus 29, 47, 80, 88, 119, 125, 126, 127, 211, 212, 213, 215, 216, 219, 223, 551, or 552 to the Ice and Snow World directly.
The Songhua River ranks the fifth longest river in China and runs about 1,897 kilometers long. No need to buy tickets to enter the park but you have to pay for the activities you want to try. They offer different winter activities like snow tubing which my husband and I tried.
Snow Tubing was really fun! The snow will bring you to the middle of the river and you will go around in a fast pace. It was really fun, but during the ride I feel like I’m having a heart attack because of the adrenaline rush but we definitely enjoyed snow tubing.
How to get there:
Songhua River is visible near downtown Harbin. You can walk from the Central Street. Or take Public Bus 101, 103, 13, 21, 204, 7, 64, 107, 108, 109, etc. to get to the river side.
ICE BAR – Shangri-la
We spent our New Year’s Eve inside the Ice Bar with a temperature of -18 ℃. The place is only open at the end of December.
The bar can accommodate about 30 people and serves vodka, Glühwein and different hot drinks. The Ice Palace Restaurant is open daily for lunch from 11:30 to 14:00 and for dinner from 17:00 to 21:30, while the Ice Bar opens from 10:00 until 22:00.
How to get there:
You can take a cab and give the address of the bar. 555 Youyi Rd, Daoli Qu, Haerbin Shi, Heilongjiang Sheng, China, 150000
We stayed for 5 days and 4 nights. I definitely recommend this hotel because it is located at the center of the city. Also, the hotel room is very nice and clean, and the staff is very accommodating as well. They can speak English, which is very helpful. Everytime I visit a country, I always book my hotel room at booking.com.
I consider Harbin as one of the coldest places I’ve been, it was magical, surreal experience!!!!!
WHAT TO WEAR
During this trip we wore 3 layers of clothing from Uniqlo (Extra Warm & Ultra Warm). I recommend this brand because they have the best line when it comes to winter clothing. Bubble Jacket is more advisable to wear rather than a regular coat because it fits the weather. Instead of regular pants, Blocktech from Uniqlo helps block the cold air with 2 layers of Heattech Extra Warm Leggings inside. Also from Uniqlo, my first layer is Heattech Ultra Warm Crew Neck Long Sleeve T-shirt and Heattech Extra Warm Turtleneck T-shirt as my second and third layer. I also wore 2 layers of beanies (Cashmere Knit Beanie) and 2 layers of gloves (Heattech Knitted Gloves), and 3 pairs of socks (Heattech socks) all from Uniqlo. A very thick scarf is also advisable as part of the clothing to protect your neck from the cold wind. A Fleece-Lined Snow Boots are enough, just don’t forget to put 3 layers of socks to keep you warm.
How to get to Harbin from Beijing:
There are more than 12 flights per day, from Beijing to Harbin. I recommend to take Air China.
If you have plenty of time (the maximum travel time from Beijing is 8 hours) and wish to see more scenic views from Beijing, you can take the train from there to Harbin. Book your trip HERE !
Transportation in Harbin:
To get around Harbin, a bus trip only costs ¥1-2. Take note that the bus service ends at 8:30pm so make sure to catch the bus early.
Taxi is the easiest way to go around and its really cheap. Just remember to ask the driver to “Kai biao (Dǎkāi yíbiǎo)” which means “turn on the meter”.
Metro costs ¥3 per person, it’s also a good alternative.
Heads-up for the internet access in Harbin, China:
Remember to download a VPN if you want to continue accessing your social media accounts. I suggest ExpressVPN.
Make sure you have a VPN or Baidu Map app because anything that is related to Google will not work in China.
If you’re a tourist and don’t speak Chinese, use the paragraph below to present your taxi driver to reach your destination.
Sun Island – 太阳岛 (Tàiyáng dǎo)
Harbin Ice and Snow World – 哈尔滨冰雪世界 (Hā’ěrbīn bīngxuě shìjiè)
Zhong Yang Street – 中阳街 (Zhōng yáng jiē)
St. Sophia Church – 圣索非亚大教堂 (Shèng suǒfēiyà dà jiàotáng)
Ice Bar Shangri La – 冰吧香格里拉 (Bīng ba xiānggélǐlā)
Songhua River – 松花江 (Sōnghuā jiāng)
Tip: Always bring cash with you, because not all the stores and restaurants accepts credit card.
*Disclaimer this is not a sponsored post.
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Watch out for my food finds in Harbin on my next blog post!