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Unlike many Chinese cities, Harbin has a short history. The city is about 110 years old. But it became the biggest city in the northeastern section of China with about 10 million people, and it is the capital of Heilongjiang Province. However, the city has not attracted much foreign investment so the city’s old structures remain. There is a lot of architecture dating from the first few decades of the 20th century when the city was a cosmopolitan city composed of people from dozens of countries. In the 1920s, most of the population was Russian, and many Russian buildings still stand.

Every year in January or February, Harbin Ice Lantern Festival is held in Harbin. Sculptors from all over China and around the world to make ice or snow sculptures and create a wonderful snow world in Harbin. Watch video of 2009 Harbin Ice Lantern Festival.

Area Highlights

The highlights of a visit to this city include Central Street, the old Russian and foreign buildings, especially Saint Sophia Cathedral, the ice festivals in which huge ice sculptures and ice buildings are put on display, Sun Island Park, the Siberian Tiger Park, and the Chinese-Russian market; and a nearby highlight is the Yabuli Ski Resort that is about 3 hours by train to the southeast.

  • Top things to do in Harbin


Harbin itself doesn’t have a long history as a city unlike most other Chinese cities. The area had fishing villages until the Russians started to build a railroad into this area in 1897. The Russians wanted a shortcut through this area. Read More on Harbin History


Harbin has very cold winters and warm summers. In January, the average high temperature is -13 degrees Celsius (8 degrees F) and the average low is about -25 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees F). July is the hottest month. The average high temperature is 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees F) and the average low is 18 degrees Celsius (65 degrees F). More about Harbin Weather.

Getting There

You can go to Harbin from Beijing by train or plane. The airport is about 30 kilometers or 19 miles from the central Daoli district. A taxi ride from the airport takes about 45 minutes or an hour. The flight between Beijing and Harbin takes less than two hours. Most of the trains between Beijing and Harbin are overnight trains that leave in the afternoon and arrive early the next morning. More about Harbin Transportation


  • Harbin’s winters are extremely cold. In January the average temperatures range from –13 to –25 degrees Celsius or +10 to –10 degrees F. So dress in layers of clothes for warmth.
  • In Harbin and the rest of China, when you travel by taxi, make sure that the drivers turn the meter on or that you negotiate about the price beforehand. If you don’t, when you arrive, they will charge you their own prices. Also, carry small denomination bills, because you may be handed fake money if you try to get change.
  • From the airport or the train station, it is better to take a cab that is waiting in the official taxi waiting line to avoid problems.
  • If you go to the bars, be forewarned that Harbin bars have a reputation for lots of fighting. If a fight starts, it is best to leave quickly.

Tips & articles

Zhongyang Street was first built in 1898 and was originally called Chinese Street. Later in 1925, its name was changed to Zhongyang Street, and it gradually developed into a prosperous pedestrian street. Zhongyang Street starts from Flood Memorial Tower in the ...Read More
Seven-tiered Buddhist Pagoda People always say: saving one's life is more than setting up seven-tiered Buddhist pagoda. Generally speaking, the number of Buddhist pagoda storeys is odd and the seven-tiered pagoda is the most common type to see. The Buddhist ...Read More
Harbin Great Snow and Ice World Harbin Snow and Ice world is one of the flagship destinations for visitors to the Harbin Snow and Ice Festival. It is the largest snow filled amusement park in the world with ice-skating, tobogganing, sledding and all other ...Read More

forum discussion

Recent posts

by Pedrek 2011-05-23
The Ice Lantern Garden The Ice Lantern Garden Party in Harbin City is the earliest and biggest artistic exhibition of the ice lantern in the open air in the world covering an area of 6.5 hectare (about 16 acres) and the quantity of used ice is about 2,000 stere (about 71000 cubic feet). It is listed as one of the 35 national 'absolutely rare and wonderfully ...
by Jan 2011-05-23
Sun Island Scenic Area Being famous both home and abroad, Sun Island Scenic Area is lying on the north bank of the Songhua River. This dainty area, surrounded by blue water, boasts crystal lakes, wooden rockeries, beautiful flowers and exotic buildings. In summer, the comfortable weather makes it the first choice to avoid summer heat, and in winter, the spot ...
by Mountjoy 2011-05-23
St. Sophia Church St. Sophia Church in Harbin is the largest Eastern Orthodox Church in the Far East. It is 53.3 meters (175 feet) high and occupies an area of 721 square meters (0.18 acres). In November, 1996, it was listed as one of the Key Cultural Relics under State Protection. Half a year later, the Harbin City government repaired it and renamed it as ...