Weather: December is already well into Harbin's long winter. It is very cold, dry, and clear with about six days of snow. The temperatures stay well below freezing. Average daily high and low temperatures are respectively -9 °C (16 °F) and -20 °C (-4 °F).
There is about 5 mm of total precipitation. Sunshine falls to 5 hours a day due to the northerly latitude.
Clothing: You'll need your best winter clothing. Dress in layers for convenience and comfort to put on and take off as needed. Most buildings in Harbin are heated, but you might still need a coat or sweater indoors. So bring a warm coat, long winter underwear, trousers, a hat, water resistant shoes, and gloves.
Things to Do in Harbin in December
In Harbin, the arrival of winter signals the beginning of the peak tourist season. Harbin's variety of snow-themed activities attracts visitors from all over the world. The extremely popular Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival kicks off at the end of December.
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
During Harbin Ice and Snow Festival (from around December 25 to February 25), Ice and Snow World displays ice sculptures of huge proportions, such as palace buildings. At night, all the sculptures are colorfully lit. There are also lots of amusements such as slides and an ice maze.
Snow artists arrive in December and start creating the gigantic and brightly-colored multistory ice constructions and the gigantic snow sculptures the size of football fields at Sun Island Park.
You also will find various ice sculptures on both sides of Harbin Zhongyang Pedestrian Street (Central Street). During winter you can enjoy a dog sled or a horse sled ride and all kinds of Harbin special snacks.
See the Siberian Tigers
There is a big cat preserve across the river from Sun Island. It is one of Harbin's favorite attractions any time of the year. The main attractions are the Siberian tigers that live in the 250-acre park, but people also like to see the Bengal tigers, pumas, lions and other big cats. Tourists like to feed the tigers and ride in vans in their field.
The Siberian tiger is the largest species of cat. They might weigh 225 kilograms (500 pounds). China's breeding program has been successful, and this might be a way to preserve the species since they are going extinct in the wild.
Enjoy Harbin Food
On bitterly cold and dark days, you can stay in warm restaurants and eat hot food of a variety of styles. Harbin's cuisine is heavily influenced by Russian and other foreign influences. There is a variety of local regional styles of Chinese food such as Lanzhou or spicy Sichuan style, and you can also choose from Russian, Japanese, and Korean restaurants.
How to Plan a Harbin Tour in Winter
A winter trip to Harbin must not be without Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. Most people combine Harbin Ice and Snow Festival with a ski trip at Yabuli Ski Resort. Here is a summary of our recommended 6-day itinerary:
More and more people extend a Harbin tour to China Snow Town, Jilin, and Changbai Mountain. If you are interested in these, see:
All these tours are customizable. Contact us to begin a no-obligation inquiry with your requirements.
If you are planning a Harbin tour, please see our recommended customizable tour plans below for inspiration: