Being the Ice City of China and a popular winter destination, Harbin is famous for its very cold winters, ice and snow sculptures and exotic architecture. Every year from December to January of the next year is the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, and many parts of the city are turned into a wonderland of snow. China Highlights has listed for you top things to do in Harbin to help you enjoy the most out of your Harbin Tour.
Coming to the ice city without skiing is like going to Beijing without visiting the Great Wall. As a potential candidate for the 2022 Winter Olympic, Harbin has a long snowing period and boasts one of the best and largest ski resorts in China – Yabuli Ski Resort.
Every year the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival is officially open on January 5 and lasts for one month. Sun Island Scenic Spot features snow sculptures, while the Grand World of Ice and Snow features ice sculptures. All create a wonderland of ice and snow. At Zhaolin Park, people will be amazed at the ice lanterns of Disney cartoon characters.
In winter, the average temperature in Harbin is about -25 ºC (-13 ºF). Many local people gather in the morning at Songhua River for winter swimming. They drill a hole into the icy river and make a simple swimming pool out of it. After warming exercises, the brave swimmers jump or dive into the freezing water. It is very interesting to see swimmers in their bathing suites swimming in the freezing water, while surrounding them are ice and snow, and people wearing very heavy coats.
With a modern history with Russian and European influences, there are many exotic buildings left in Harbin. Many western-style buildings are located along the Central Street, the main shopping street in Harbin. Due to its geographic location, many Russian goods such as Russian dolls, lacquer ware and jewelries can also be found in Harbin, especially at Chinese-Russian Market.
Influenced by Russian, Mongolian and of course North China cuisines, Harbin food has distinctive features, and the dishes are usually stewed, fumigated or pickled in sauce. Besides enjoying the nutritious stews at a local restaurant, visitors can also enjoy an authentic western (mainly Russian) dinner at a western restaurant.