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.
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
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.
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
- 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