Harbin Travel Guide

Harbin Travel Guide

Harbin: The Ice City in China

Harbin, also known as the "Ice City", is located in the southwestern part of Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China. It is the capital city of Heilongjiang Province, with a total land area of 53,100 square kilometers, making it the largest provincial capital city in China in terms of area. Harbin is the political, economic, and cultural center of northern Northeast China.

Harbin location
The geographical location of Harbin

Olunchun people
Source from: Xiaohongshu ID - 953586445

The unique historical process and geographical location have created this beautiful city with a foreign ambiance, with the St. Sophia Cathedral and the Russian-style buildings dotted along the Central Street.

Harbin not only blends Chinese and foreign cultures but also incorporates the historical and cultural elements of the ethnic minorities in the north, including over 40 ethnic groups such as the Chaoxian nationality, the Man nationality, the Mongolian nationality, Sibe people, Daur ethnic group, the Ewenki nationality, and Olunchun.

Furthermore, Harbin is one of the birthplaces of the world's ice and snow culture. The Ice and Snow World, the ice sculptures and lanterns in Zhaolin Park, the "Diamond Sea" on the Songhua River, winter swimming, and the snow sculptures on Sun Island are renowned both at home and abroad. Harbin is a famous historical and cultural city as well as a tourist city in China.

Basic Facts
  • English Name: Harbin
  • Chinese Name: 哈尔滨 (hā ěr bīn)
  • Province: Heilongjiang
  • Location: Northeast China
  • Area Code: (+86) 0451
  • Zip Code: 150000
  • Airports: Harbin Taiping International Airport,IATA:HRB,ICAO:ZYHB
  • Population: about 9.4 million
  • Railway Stations: Harbin Station, Harbin West Station, Harbin North Station, Harbin East Station, Acheng Station, Hulan Station, Shuangcheng North Station
  • Main Districts: Daoli, Nangang, Daowai, bungalow, Songbei, Xiangfang, Hulan, Acheng, Shuangcheng

The Best Times to Visit Harbin

The best times to visit Harbin are in summer (June to Auguest) and winter.

The summer weather is cool and pleasant, with lush green trees, making it an ideal place for vacation and escaping the heat.

Harbin Volga Manor in Summer

In winter, the city is dressed in a silver-white coat of snow and ice, living up to its reputation as the "Ice City". Although the weather is cold, it cannot deter tourists' love for ice and snow. Visitors can experience the stark contrast of snowy landscapes compared to southern China, enhanced by the grand Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. Ice sculptures, ice lanterns, snow sculptures, and various ice and snow entertainment activities allow tourists to fully experience the joy brought by ice and snow. The Ice and Snow Festival runs from late December to the end of February.

The Ice and Snow World
The Ice and Snow World truly opened our eyes.

Monthly Average Temperature in Harbin

Month Average Temperature (°C) Average Temperature (°F)
January -19℃ -2.2℉
February -14℃ 6.8℉
March -3℃ 26.6℉
April 8℃ 46.4℉
May 16℃ 60.8℉
June 22℃ 71.6℉
July 24℃ 75.2℉
August 23℃ 73.4℉
September 16℃ 60.8℉
October 6℃ 42.8℉
November -4℃ 24.8℉
December -16℃ 3.2℉
Monthly Average Temperature in Harbin

What to Wear

The four seasons in Harbin are distinct.

In summer, the average temperature is around 22°C (72°F), suitable for wearing short-sleeved t-shirts, shorts, and skirts. However, due to temperature differences between morning/evening and occasional rainy days, it is recommended to carry a long-sleeved top as a backup.

In winter, the climate is cold with an average temperature of -18°C (0°F), and the nighttime low can reach -30°C (-22°F). In addition to wearing down jackets and warm clothing, cotton hats, scarves, and gloves are also necessities. It is essential to keep warm when in Harbin during winter.

What to See and Top Things to do in Harbin

Harbin Ice and Snow World

Harbin Ice and Snow World

It is the world's largest ice and snow theme park featuring ice lanterns and snow sculptures. Founded in 1999, it receives over 1 million visitors from around the world every year. It is an irreplaceable landmark of Harbin, featuring thousands of ice sculptures as well as various ice and snow games (super ice slides, snow ferris wheel, snow all-terrain vehicles, snow motorcycles, skiing experiences, etc.).

Zhongyang Street

Zhongyang Street

Zhongyang Street was built in 1898 and is the most lively commercial pedestrian street in Harbin. It stretches from the Flood Control Memorial Tower in the north to Jingwei Street in the south. The entire street features 71 European-style and neo-European-style buildings, including 13 protected buildings at the municipal level in styles such as Renaissance, Baroque, Eclecticism, and Modernism, forming an architectural art gallery. In addition, there are various department stores and restaurants.

St. Sophia Cathedral.

St. Sophia Cathedral

St. Sophia Cathedral is the largest Orthodox church in the far East and is located in the Architectural Art Square.

With a strong exotic atmosphere, the church has become a unique landscape in Harbin, is the fourth batch of national key cultural relics protection units, and is now the Harbin Museum of Architectural Art.

Sun Island Scenic Area

Sun Island Scenic Area

The Sun Island Scenic Area features countryside scenery, European ambiance, ice and snow art, and northern-style accommodations. In summer, it is a paradise for sightseeing and escaping the heat, with many special attractions such as Squirrel Island, Lilac Garden, Flower Garden, Deer Park, and Water Pavilion in the Clouds. In winter, it becomes China's largest winter theme park centered around snow, with breathtakingly beautiful snow sculptures throughout the park.

Zhaolin Park

Zhaolin Park

Zhaolin Park is a garden and scenic area named after the famous anti-Japanese allied army commander General Li Zhaolin. It was established in 1906. The annual Ice Lantern Fair is held here. In winter, there are over 200 ice sculptures in the park. In addition to viewing the sculptures, the park also offers free recreational facilities such as large and small ice slides and an ice rink.

The Yabuli Ski Resort

Yabuli Ski Resort

The Yabuli Ski Resort is composed of three peaks from the Zhanggguangcai Ridge, a branch of the Changbai Mountains: the main peak Daguokui Mountain at an elevation of 1,374.8 meters, Erguokui Mountain at 1,258 meters, and Sanguokui Mountain at 1,000 meters. The Yabuli Ski Resort also serves as China's Antarctic expedition training base.

Snow Village

Harbin Snow Village

"A Fairy Tale World in Winter"

The China Snow Town Tourism Festival is one of the three major ice and snow tourism celebrations in Heilongjiang Province.

Located in Shuangfengmuchang (under the jurisdiction of Mudanjiang City), Hailin City, about 280 kilometers from Harbin, a 5-6 hour drive.

This traditional village consists of about 20 wooden houses. In winter, the area has a long snow season with frequent snowfall, with continuous snow cover from October to May of the following year. The average annual snow depth reaches 2 meters, making it one of the snowiest places in China, and the snow quality is good with high stickiness, so it is called the "China Snow Village."

Standing on the boardwalk, the snowy little town is in full view. Additionally, you can watch local dialect performances by locals at the Dream Home. Enjoy outdoor snow activities like sledding, snow tubing, skiing...or visit the Folk Culture Museum to learn about the history and facts of the local people, the town, and the loggers.

If you like hiking, go for a hike nearby at Yangcao Mountain, watch the sunrise in the snowy forest, and you'll feel like you've entered a magical dream world: white snow, red sun, snow pines, and auspicious clouds perfectly combined into a beautiful picture.

The best time to visit China's Snow Town is mid-December, January and February.

Harbin Transportation

Harbin Metro

Harbin Metro

Harbin currently has 3 metro lines: Line 1, Line 2, and Line 3.

Subway line Subway station
Harbin Metro Line 1 (06:00 – 22:30) Harbin East Station - Huashu Street Station-Jiaotong College Station - Taipingqiao Station - Engineering University Station - Yanchang Station - First Hospital Station of Medical University - Museum Station - Railway Bureau Station - Harbin University of Technology Station - West Daqiao Station - Hexing Road Station - Xuefu Road Station - University of Science and Technology Station - Heilongjiang University Station - Second Hospital Station of Medical University - Hada Station - Harbin South Station - Tongjiang Road Station - Wapanyao Station - Jingpo Road Station - Bohai Road Station - Xinjiang Street Station
Harbin Metro Line 2 (06:00 – 22:30) Jiangbei University Town - Harbin North Railway Station – Dagengjia - Longchuan Road - Shimao Avenue - Ice and Snow World - Sun Island - People's Square - Zhongyang Street - Shangzhi Street - Harbin Railway Station - Museum of Heilongjiang Province - Workers' Cultural Palace - The People's Government of Heilongjiang Province - Provincial Hospital - Zhujiang Road - Nanzhi Road - Northeast Agricultural University - Meteorological Observatory
Harbin Metro Line 3 (06:00 – 22:30) Chengxiang Lu Station - Harbin West Station-Kaishengyuan Plaza Station-Haxi Street Station - Hospital Station of Medical University-Zhengyi Road Station-Cancer Hospital Station-Xusheng Street Station-Labor Park Station-Jinxiang Street Station-Steam Turbine Plant Station-Oil Fong Street Station-Gongbin Road Station-Zhujiang Road Station-Xiangjiang Road Station-Exhibition Center Station-Haihe East Road Station-City second Hospital Station-Dayoufang Street Station-Taiping Bridge. Station-Jingyu Park Station-Mosque Station-China Baroque Street Station-North Road Station

Harbin Bus

Harbin tourist bus
Harbin Tourist Bus

The Harbin Bus system offers a convenient and affordable way to travel around the city. With a vast network of bus routes and stops, you can easily reach various destinations within Harbin.

City Lines:

  • Regular Buses: 1 Yuan
  • Air-conditioned Buses: 2 Yuan

Suburban Lines:

  • Starting Fare: 1 Yuan (Regular Buses) or 2 Yuan (Air-conditioned Buses)
  • Additional Fare: 1 Yuan per additional zone

Business Buses: 5 Yuan

Operating Hours

  • Summer: 6:00 AM to 8:30 PM
  • Winter: 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM
  • Late-night Buses: 9:30 PM to 10:00 PM

Taxis in Harbin

Taxis in Harbin operate from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The starting fare is 8 yuan for the first 3 kilometers. For distances beyond 3 kilometers, the fare is 1.8 yuan per kilometer.

From 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM, the starting fare is 9 yuan. Other fares remain the same. If passengers require the driver to wait for them during the ride, a waiting fee of 0.6 yuan per minute will be charged.

All taxis are equipped with taxi meters. Passengers should pay according to the displayed fare.

At train stations and airports, there are designated taxi waiting areas where you can find taxis

Here is a list of taxi fares from the South Square of Harbin Station to various major locations for your reference.

The South Square of Harbin Station To Distance (km) Taxi Fare (CNY)
Harbin Taiping International Airport 37 98-130
Harbin West Railway Station 8.5 21-29
Harbin East Railway Station 8.8 21-29
Heilongjiang Provincial Museum 1.7 9-13
Church of Santa Sophia 3.6 11-16
Heilongjiang Forest Botanical Garden 9 21-29
Sun Island 10.3 25-36
World of Ice and Snow 10.3 25-36
Hulan estuary wetland 39 104-137
Harbin Rongchuang Paradise 16.1 41-58
Laodaowai or Chinese Baroque Street 4.2 13-18
Northeast Tiger Forest Park 16.6 41-58
Poseidon Ocean Kingdom 21.4 55-76

Harbin Airport

Harbin Taiping International Airport is about 32 kilometers (20 miles) away from the center of Daoli District. As an important transportation hub in Northeast China, most cities have flights to and from Harbin. In addition, there are regular international flights to and from Russia, Japan and South Korea in Harbin.

The distance between major cities and Harbin by air:

Cities By Air
Beijing 2 hours
Shanghai 3 hours
Guangzhou 4-4.5 hours
Chengdu 3.5-4 hours
Shenzhen 4 hours
Hangzhou 3 hours
Xiamen 4-4.5 hours
Wuhan 3-3.5 hours
Sanya 5 hours
Xi’an 3 hours

Transportation from the airport to the city center

There are airport shuttle buses (routes 1, 2, 3 and 4) and taxis between the airport and the city center.

It is cheaper to take an airport bus from Harbin airport to the city than to take a taxi, and an one-way ticket costs only 20 yuan.

It's about an hour's drive from Harbin Airport to downtown Harbin.

Bus Schedules: (The information is for reference only, may be adjusted temporarily.)

Buses Stations Departure Time Departure Interval
Airport Bus No.1 Harbin Airport-Kangan Road-Tongda Street-Anfa Bridge-Harbin Railway From 7:30 Until Arrival of the last flight According to the arrival of flights
Airport Bus No.2 Harbin Airport-Ling Gong Li-Chilun Road-Harbin West Coach Station-Clothing Mall-Harbin University of Science and Technology-Hexing Commercial Building-Lesong Square-Tongxiang Store-Nongken Building-Tianyang Hotel-Convention Center-Minfang Commercial Hotel 08:30-01:30 30 Minutes
Airport Bus No.3 Harbin Airport-Chilun Road-Guxiang-Anhong Street-Central Street-Baqu-Daowai Coach Station-Jungong-Taiping Bridge-Harbin East Railway Station 08:30-00:30 30 Minutes
Airport Bus No.4 Harbin Airport-Chilun Road-Qunli Yi Da-Qunli Yuan Da-Highway Bridge-Ice and Snow World-Qianjin Dao Kou-Da Geng Jia-Harbin North Raiolway Station-Xueyuan Road 09:30-00:30 1 Hour
Wanda Plaza Line Harbin Airport-Jiangbei Wanda Plaza-Wanda Plaza- Beian Runhe City-Harbin's Outlets 09:00-00:30 1 Hour

You can also take a taxi from Harbin Airport to the city, which costs about 120 to 150 yuan.

Although it is more expensive than taking the airport bus, it will be more flexible taking into account your own needs.

It takes about 50 minutes from the airport to the city, but it may be longer during peak hours (8 a.m. to 09:30; 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) when the traffic is heavy.

Now the price depends not only on the distance to the destination, but also on the time spent on the way, so you may have to pay more when there is a traffic jam.

Train to Harbin

Harbin is not only an important railway hub in Northeast China, but also an important channel of Eurasian Continental Bridge.

At present, the main railway stations in Harbin are Harbin Station, Harbin West Station, Harbin North Station and Harbin East Station. There are about 100 high-speed trains to and from Harbin every day.

The following lists some train travel times between Harbin and other cities.

Cities High-Speed Railway Traditional Train
Changchun 1-1.5 hours 2.5-3.5 hours
Shenyang 2-3 hours 6-7.5 hours
Dalian 3.5-5 hours 11.5-13.5 hours
Qingdao 10-10.5 hours 25 hours
Beijing 5-6 hours 10.5-18 hours
Tianjin 6.5-7.5 hours 10.5-18.5 hours
Shanghai 13 hours 24 hours
Suzhou 12.5 hours 23 -28 hours
Nanjing 11 hours 21-29.5 hours
Hangzhou No direct high-speed train 26-36 hours
Guangzhou No direct high-speed train 34-44 hours
Wuhan 12.5 hours 23-28.5 hours
Xi’an No direct high-speed train 33.5 hours
Haikou No direct high-speed train 48.5 hours
Baotou No direct high-speed train 27 hours

Eating in Harbin

Under the influence of Russian and minority food culture, Harbin's diet has two main features: one is that you can taste very authentic northeast food in Harbin.

Second, you can also eat authentic Russian cuisine in Harbin.

Here are 5 must-eat Harbin cuisines:

Dongbei Iron Pot Stew

Dongbei Iron Pot Stew

"In the northeast iron pot can stew all. "

Choose a variety of fresh ingredients such as chicken, duck, fish, geese, ribs and so on into a special iron pot, and northeast specialty wide noodles, dried beans stew together, meat crisp but not greasy, soup mellow and delicious.

The more famous ones are stewed goose, chicken and spareribs in iron pot.

If you are sensitive to taste and can't stand a fishy smell, stewed ribs in iron pot is the most recommended.

Dongbei Guo Bao Rou (Crispy Sweet & Sour Pork)

Dongbei Guo Bao Rou

Guo Bao Rou is one of the most representative dishes in Harbin. It is made of high-quality pork tenderloin slices, made by hanging paste, frying and other complex processes. The outer layer of the finished product is crisp and golden, the inside is tender and juicy, sour and sweet and palatable. When you bite down, you can hear the crisp sound of "popcorn". This dish is deeply loved by diners. It is not only a local table regular, but also an authentic delicacy that tourists must taste.

Kao Leng Mian

Kao Leng Mian

Kao Leng Mian, literally translated as "Grilled Cold Noodles," is a popular and affordable Chinese street food. It features a unique combination of textures and flavors. Thin sheets of cold noodles are cooked on a griddle until slightly crisp, then wrapped with a savory egg mixture and your choice of fillings like sausage or vegetables. The whole creation is drizzled with a flavorful sauce, creating an irresistible aroma and a taste explosion.

Soy sauce big bone

Soy sauce big bone

According to the main ingredients, there are sauce ribs, sauce ribs and sauce sticks.

Because the pork spine tastes the softest and waxy after stewing, and it is more fun to eat and the most popular.

If you see one or two people in a northeast restaurant, order a large plate of soy sauce bones, a few bottles of beer, a very special scenery.

Harbin red sausage

Harbin red sausage

Because the appearance of the intestine is jujube, it is called red sausage.

Compared with sausage, it is not greasy and chewy.

Red sausage is extremely delicious for local people in northeast China, so red sausage is almost a must for those who travel to Harbin.

Souvenirs in Harbin

Refrigerator sticker

Harbin has many specialties, with Russian exotic food, such as "Daliba" bread, Russian chocolate, candy and so on, but also easy to carry.

In addition, you can also buy some tea, paintings and decorations from Russia or other Eastern European countries in Harbin, which are not too expensive.

In addition, Harbin red sausage and air-dried sausage are also worth buying, these two are Harbin unique flavor food, and both have vacuum packaging, shelf life is longer.

Festivals and Events in Harbin

The Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

The Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Held annually from December to February, the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival is a dazzling spectacle that reigns supreme as China's first ever regional festival celebrating ice and snow.

This awe-inspiring event transforms Harbin into a magical winter wonderland. Visitors are treated to breathtaking displays of ice lanterns and intricate snow sculptures, each meticulously crafted by skilled artisans. But the festival's magic extends far beyond the visual.

Thrill-seekers can take the plunge in a large-scale winter swimming competition, a testament to the city's embrace of winter. Additionally, the festival comes alive with vibrant ice and snow performance parties, offering a kaleidoscope of entertainment for all ages.

Important Note: While the official opening ceremony takes place on January 5th of each year, the festival grounds with their stunning ice and snow creations are typically open to the public from mid-December onwards.

Harbin Oktoberfest

Harbin Beer festival

Every year, during the month of July (exact dates vary), Harbin's Ice and Snow World Park in Songbei District transforms into a beer lover's paradise.

This energetic festival brings together major Chinese and foreign brewers, offering a vast selection of beers to tantalize your taste buds. Imagine strolling through a bustling beer hall, sampling frosty brews from around the world!

But Harbin Oktoberfest isn't just about beer. The festivities extend beyond the brews, with a variety of fun activities to keep you entertained. Immerse yourself in the carnival atmosphere, complete with classic games and playful energy. Gear up for a dazzling car show or marvel at the vibrant float parade that snakes through the streets.

So, if you find yourself in Harbin during July, be sure to join the merriment at Harbin Oktoberfest. It's a perfect blend of refreshing brews, exciting entertainment, and a celebration of China's deep-rooted beer culture!

Harbin Summer Concert

Harbin Summer Concert

Nestled in the heart of Heilongjiang province, Harbin isn't just known for its icy wonders. Every other summer, the city transforms into a music hub with the Harbin Summer Concert, a prestigious national music event fondly nicknamed "Haxia Club." This ten-day extravaganza celebrates the rich musical heritage of Harbin.

Accommodation in Harbin

Harbin offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and needs, from luxurious five-star international brands to comfy four-star hotels, budget-friendly options, and hostels.

Since most of Harbin's scenic spots are concentrated around Daoli District's Central Street, staying in this area is ideal for sightseeing. Here are some specific streets to target your hotel search: Tongjiang Street, Central Street, Zhaolin Street, Shangzhi Street, Lot Street, and Friendship Road. This area is also convenient for eating, shopping, and entertainment, with Sun Island and Harbin Ice and Snow World just a short distance away.

Recommended Harbin Tours

Harbin Summer Tour in 2 Days

Itinerary (Private Car and Guide)

Day 1:

Begin your day at Sophia Square and admire the iconic St. Sophia Cathedral. Stroll down Central Street, a century-old street lined with European-style architecture. Savor an authentic Russian or local Northeast Chinese lunch at a nearby restaurant. Explore Stalin Park in the afternoon.

Enjoy free time in the evening.

Day 2:

Head to Sun Island on the north bank of the Songhua River, either by car or from Friendship Road. Visit the Polar Museum while there. Venture into the Northeast Tiger Park in the afternoon for an up-close encounter with Siberian tigers.

Get more information about Harbin tour packages.

Harbin Winter Ice and Snow Festival Highlights: A 2-Day Tour

Itinerary Details (Private Car and Guide)

Day 1:

Morning: Embark on your tour with a visit to the iconic Saint Sophia Cathedral, the largest Eastern Orthodox church in the Far East.

Stroll down Central Street, a historical pedestrian-only street lined with European-style architecture.

Savor a delicious Russian lunch at a renowned restaurant on Central Street.

Afternoon: Explore Sun Island Park and immerse yourself in the enchanting Winter Snow Expo.

Evening: Marvel at the awe-inspiring Ice and Snow World, a masterpiece of ice sculptures and snow creations.

Day 2:

Morning: After breakfast, head to Zhaoyin Park along the Songhua River. Witness the remarkable spectacle of winter swimmers, including individuals in their 60s and 70s, braving the icy waters. Observe the vibrant winter activities, such as ice skating, skiing, and ice fishing.

Delve into the rich history of Heilongjiang Provincial Museum, housed in a stunning 1906 European Baroque-style building. Admire a vast collection of precious artifacts, including bronzes, gold, jade, ceramics, and paintings, showcasing the region's 40,000-year-old human history and culture. Gain insights into the lives of Russian immigrants and their influence on Harbin's distinctive Russian character through captivating exhibits and historical relics.

Conclude your tour with a visit to Old Dao Wai, a charming district brimming with early 20th-century Baroque-style buildings, forming the largest Chinese Baroque block in China.

Additional Notes:

1. These itineraries can be customized to suit your preferences and time constraints.

2. Transportation and entrance fees are included in the tour price.

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