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Overview

Visit the Harbin Ice Festival- one for the bucket list! Spend a full day at this one-of-a-kind festival, wandering among the incredible ice sculptures that display an incredible technical mastery. Take time to explore the other wonders of Harbin, the cultural crossroads of Russia and China.

Trip Highlights

Harbin Ice Festival, January February

Spend a day at the famous Harbin Ice Festival

Marvel at the incredible carvings produced from ice and snow in the day time and then illuminated at night.  

Discover Harbin’s rich diverse culture

Spend a day walking through Harbin, discovering its various houses of worship and its arts scene, from past to present. 

See the contrast of historic and modern Harbin

Learn about the city’s intriguing yet tragic past, then dine in a modern restaurant staffed almost entirely by robots. 

Itinerary

1

Arrival in Harbin

Harbin Airport– Experimental Center 731 (approx. 28km): 50 mins

When it comes to Harbin, China, it’s not just about the ice! Situated along the border of Russia in the province of Heilongjiang (literally “Black Dragon River”), this city sits at a veritable cultural crossroads. Visible upon arrival (post welcome and hotel transport), Harbin is known for its multinational history between the Chinese, Russians, and Japanese. In fact, one of the first stops (the Japanese Biological Warfare Experimentation Centre) sheds some light on darker days in Harbin, when the Japanese used the area to develop biological weapons on human subjects. With a total of 3,000 victims (not including those during the Sino-Japanese War), the visit is morose, yet historically enlightening.

Note: Warning – some of the images here can be shocking. As such, we do not recommend this visit for children under the age of 12.

Head back to the hotel (with guide and transfer) to rest up for the following day… on foot! 

Overnight in Harbin

2

Harbin

Total distance of this walk is about 6km (not including Gogol Road.). The roads running perpendicular to Zhongyang Road are also worthy of a visit.

Day 2 features a walking tour (transfer to city center via car if hotel is outside the neighborhood) through old Harbin. Principally located inside the Daoliqu Quarter, the walk will commence from Stalin Park, beautifully set alongside the cafe-lined Songhua River, where the Flood Control Monument can be seen (commemorating flood victims of the area.)

Further down the famous Zhongyang Pedestrian Street (or “Central Street”), the multinational influence of Harbin can be spotted through the beautiful 19th century Russian architectural lining the streets. Take note of the 1906-built Modern Hotel (available as an accommodation choice), boasting original marble and touches of Art Nouveau.

Continue onto Tongjiang Road, previously the heart of Harbin’s Jewish community, to take in the Main Synagogue (now a cafe and boutique shops) and neighboring Turkish Mosque (closed to visitors.) Further along, the Harbin New Synagogue (1931) pays homage to the city’s once-flourishing Jewish community with an interesting museum.

One of the most iconic symbols of Harbin, Saint Sophie Church sits as the next visit. Built by the Russians in 1907, this is known as the biggest Orthodox Church in the Far East. Today the building’s interior has been redesigned as the Harbin Architectural Arts Centre, which displays a collection showcasing the pluricultural architectural developments of the city through the years.

Note: Depending on speed, there may also be time to visit Gogol Road (referencing the Russian writer), located in the Nangang neighborhood (2.5km from Saint Sophie Church.) A tree-lined boulevard, Gogol boasts a beautiful collection of Russian buildings, along with the notable Saint Alekseyev Orthodox Church. Taxi recommended.

Grab a bite at Cafe Russia 1914, known for its unique Russian decor and antique-photo-plastered interiors (not, however, known for its service.) Regardless of its apathetic atmosphere, the eatery is a convenient place to sample some Russian specialties (located near the departure point of the walk.)

Optionally: For night owls, the city’s beer gardens (along Zhongyang road or in Stalin Park) are highly recommended; an integral part of the Harbin travel atmosphere!

Overnight in Harbin.

3

Harbin

A Harbin travel experience is incomplete without visiting the Snow and Ice Festival!

The entirety of Day 3 will be set aside for exploring this internationally-renowned attraction. Starting January 5th each year, the Harbin Ice Festival lasts a little more than a month, depending on the temperatures. Themes change each year, with competitors from all over the world bringing their creativity and incredible technical mastery to craft truly mesmerizing structures. Famous completions range from Forbidden City replicas and casinos to European churches.

With guide and driver, head to Sun Island (across the Songhua River) to admire the fantastic snow creations. Two hours on foot is ample time to drift from sculpture to sculpture.

Continue onwards to Ice Snow World, where the majority of the ice sculptures are located. While night falls very early in winter (generally between 15:00-16:00), darkness brings out the true magic of the sculptures with multi-colored neon lights illuminating each individual creation. 

Note: Harbin is cold! Temperatures during the Harbin Ice Festival can reach as low as -25 or -30 degrees centigrade this time of year. Hourly stops into covered areas (serving hot drinks) are highly recommended. If the cold appears to be unbearable for guests, the trip can be extended over two half-days.

Also Note: The Songhua River is entirely frozen at this time. Much of the ice needed for the Harbin Ice Festival is extracted from the river, while the rest is converted into a huge playground: hockey, ice-skating, ice-boating… all activities can be paid for on site. A delightful lantern show also takes place in Zhaolin Park.

Overnight in Harbin.

4

Departure from Harbin

Transfer with guide and driver for departing flight.

Important Information

Our services include:

  • Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner).
  • English speaking guide (no shopping basis rates) (for other languages supplements apply)
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle
  • Entrance fees for mentioned visits

Our services do not include:

  • Other meals not mentioned
  • Visa for China
  • Other services than mentioned
  • International and domestic flights
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
  • Tips, Travel insurance
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.

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