China Guide

Harbin, China – Guide to Harbin Attractions, Climate Airport

Harbin Holiday Guide

Harbin is Heilongjiang’s capital, also known as ‘Ice City’, referring to its famous Ice Festival. Harbin can also be enjoyed during summer as the blankets of snow and ice are lifted exposing some of its past Russian influence through some charming examples of Russian architecture scattered around.

Winter dominates the Harbin calendar as the freezing temperatures give life to snow and ice attractions. With the bitterly cold and windy climate that plummets down to below 30°C, be sure to bring several layers of clothes so you can get out and enjoy the festivities. See Harbin Festivals for more information on the winter festivals of this area.

While winters are the most popular time to visit because of the renowned Ice Festival, summer can also be a fun time to travel around Harbin. There are parks, shopping districts, temples and other attractions to set your sights on while enjoying the warm sun of the mid year summer.

One of Harbin’s lovely districts to visit is the district of Daoli where you can walk the streets lined with shopping gems such as fur shops and boutiques. Summer sees the pedestrian streets bustle with life as cafes and bars provide a place for people to meet and enjoy the warmth of the summer months.

The Church of St Sofia is a testament to the Russian influence and carries a unique display of architecture. The cathedral’s roof is decorated with a stunning greenish dome providing the cherry on top of the architecture and arts centre which is housed within.

Continue along to Dong Dazhi Jie where you will find many Buddhist temples. These temples were largely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution however some have been well restored and are a great attraction for tourists to the area. In particular, look out for the Qiji Futu Pagoda, with seven tiers it is quite a sight.

Sun Island is found across the river from Stalin Park, China’s last Stalin memorial. Boat trips can be made out to the island from the Park or alternatively you can take a cable car. The Island is home to the Siberian Tiger Park, however this is not worthy of a special trip as its in rather dismal shape while the tigers themselves are locked up in smallish enclosures and are constantly teased. Take the time to wonder through the gardens though as they are a wonderful sight with many animals to watch. While it can be an enjoyable boat trip in the summer, many choose to wait until the water freezes over in winter and then walk or cart across for views of ice sculptures.

You can hardly ever go wrong with a zoo to occupy some time, especially if it is one of China’s largest. The Harbin Northern Forest Zoo is about 40km out of the city centre and a great place to bring the kids.

Alternatively, head to the Japanese Germ Warfare Experimental Base where the Japanese army operated experiments on thousands for top secret research. Not for the faint hearted, this museum provides photo documentary of some of the horrendous and gruesome experiments that took place here during World War II. While it is a rather solemn monument to the war, many find it very interesting though captions are not translated so you will have to settle for deciphering from the images.

Getting into Harbin to experience these attractions can be done through the Harbin Taiping International Airport which is known as a transportation hub of Northeast China. If you want to fly into Harbin from an international destination such as Europe, bear in mind that you are likely to have to fly via one of the other major international airports such as Beijing or Shanghai then travel domestically to Harbin.