Harbin Travel Guide

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.


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.

Questions and Answers About Harbin Travel Guide

Cindy Thien 2012-12-23
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I will be Harbin on 4th Mar 2013. Do u think the ice festival still available?

Hello Cindy, the Ice Festival will usually end at the middle of Feb. So i don't think you will still have the opportunity to see it in May. You may go there in early Feb if you really want to enjoy it. Wish you nice trip there.

Simon Huang replied on 2012-12-24
Luisa 2012-12-11
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Hi, I would like to know if the Ice Festival will be open and have lights and so on before the official inauguration on January 5th 2013? For example if I go on January 3th, would I see the laterns and ligths? Also I want to know if the flights from Harbin to Beijing go normally or if there is often problems and delays because of the snow? I just need to plan because I have an international flight from Beijing, which I can''t miss.ThanksLuisa
Dear Sir or Madam, The openning ceremony of the Ice Festival will be held on Jan.5, but you could see the laterns, lights, snow sculptures and ice sculptures on Jan.3. In general, the flights won't be affacted by the weather. You also could take a train to get to Harbin. It takes about 8 hours. If you haven't not booked a tour yet, please feel free to let me know your travel plan, I am glad to design an itinerary for you. Lussie Lu replied on 2012-12-12
Mabel Chee 2012-12-02
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When is Snow Sculpture Park soft opening date and what is the fee? Is the INDOOR Ice Sculpture Park open on 16Dec and 22-23Dec?

Hi Mabel, Harbin Ice and Snow Festival usually runs on December 20 every year. On January 5( Jan.5 to Feb.28) it's formally open to the public. The entrance fee is about CNY300.

Whitney Liao replied on 2012-12-03
Alex 2012-11-12
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Hi, my friends! I will be in Harbin from 30 DEC to 02 YAN with my girlfriend. Can you tell me: -what is better place for romantic New Year Night dinner? May be, you can recommend me one or few places... Thanks in advance. Alex.

Hi Alex, I recommend the Europa Restaurant in the Central avenue to you.

Whitney Liao replied on 2012-11-14
md.shaidul islam 2012-11-03
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i am coming china end of this month.and i want to go harbin mid December in this time can i see snow in the harbin?

Yes, you can see snow in mid December in Harbin. You can see snow now in Harbin.

Leon Long replied on 2012-11-03
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