How to Plan a Tour to Harbin

Harbin, located in the northeast of China, is the capital city of Heilongjiang Province which looks like a beautiful flying swan. With winding Songhua River passing through, Harbin, the Ice City as well as “Moscow in the Orient”, is a surprising dream-like winter paradise telling romantic stories to every traveler. It is notable for its Russian influence and the stunning Ice and Snow Festival - one of the four largest ice and snow festivals in the world. It welcomes your coming to explore the miracles of ice and snow!

The following are the best travel tips shows everything about how to plan a Harbin tour, including best time to go to Harbin, transportation, awesome places to visit, top things to do, suggested suitable travel length...Free your mind to read and plan your winter trip in 2020/2021!

 

Harbin Weather, Best Time to Visit & What to Wear

Harbin is the most northeastern and coldest provincial city which features a temperate continental monsoon climate with distinctive four seasons. It has long and cold winters, and short rainy summers. The average monthly temperature of Harbin ranges from -25℃ to 29℃. The mean max temperature in a year varies from -14℃ to 29℃, and the mean min temperature varies from -25℃ to 20℃. The month with the highest average low temperature is July (18.3°C). The coldest month (with the lowest average low temperature) is January (-24.1°C).

As the No.1 winter destination in China different from other hot destinations, Harbin is very suitable to be visited during winter - the colder, the better. That’s to say, the best time to travel to Harbin is usually from late November to early March. The annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival officially falls on January 5 and lasts to February 25. During these periods, different kinds of winter activities and snow sculptures will be held in different places of Harbin, with great fun and challenge.

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Below is the average high and low temperature of November, December, January, February and March of the past year that you can check it for reference to plan your tour.

Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar.
Average High Temperature -0.1°C -9.4°C -12.5°C -7.2°C 2.3°C
Average Low Temperature -10.1°C -19.8°C -24.1°C -19.8°C -9.7°C

Useful Links: Harbin Weather in November | Harbin Weather in December | Harbin Weather in January | Harbin Weather in February

Bear in Mind: Keeping warm is the first things when traveling to Harbin. It is suggested to wear thermal underwear, sweater, fleece series and waterproof jacket. Dress in layers. It is a good idea to wear dark colors to absorb sunlight for added warmth, protect your eyes and others’ eyes from snow blindness and help people identify you and see you better. Besides, wear snow boots or warm waterproof shoes is a good choice. Also, cotton or fleece gloves with five fingers is needed.

Learn more about Harbin Weather, Climate, Temperature & Best Time to Visit >>

>> 3 Days Classic Harbin Winter Tour


How to Go to & around Harbin

By Air

Harbin Taiping International Airport is the second largest international airport in Northeast China. It has flights connecting with over 30 large cities in China, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, Wuhan, Nanjing, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Dalian, Xiamen and Hong Kong, Taipei. Moreover, there are also scheduled international flights between Harbin and Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea, etc. Many travelers take flights from Beijing and Shanghai to Harbin attend the grand Harbin Ice and Snow Festival.

Harbin Taiping International Airport is about 41 kilometers away from the downtown area of Harbin, taking about 40 minutes by driving. Learn more details at How to Get from Harbin Airport to the City Center >>

Harbin Taiping International Airport

Harbin Taiping International Airport

By High Speed Train

Taking high speed train is also a popular way to get to Harbin. Roughly, there are more than 100 high speed trains running from/to Harbin every day. Most travelers would like to take high speed trains from Beijing to Harbin (7 daily, about 7~8.5 hours). Some of them may choose high speed train from Tianjin (10 daily, about 6~7 hours), Shanghai (only 1 daily, about 12 hours), Shenyang (about 40 daily, for 2~3 hours), Dalian (about 20 daily, for 3.5~4.5 hours), etc. Learn more about Harbin High Speed Trains >>

There are two train stations mainly used. Trains will arrive at Harbin West Railway Station or Harbin Railway Station. Harbin West Railway Station is about 10 kilometers from downtown area, taking around 25 minutes’ by driving. While, Harbin Railway Station is located in downtown area which is very easily getting around. More high speed trains will arrive at Harbin West.

Useful Links: How to Travel from Beijing to Harbin | How to Travel from Shanghai to Harbin | How to Travel from Hong Kong to Harbin

Harbin West Railway Station

Harbin West Railway Station

Getting to & around

Hiring a taxi is very convenient in Harbin. You need to make sure the drivers run the meter. It is CNY 8 for 3 kilometers, CNY 1.9 for every additional 1 kilometer and CNY 1 for fuel surcharge per ride. Tips: from the airport or the train stations, it is better to take a taxi that is waiting in the official taxi waiting line to avoid some traps.

Outside of Harbin city, Yabuli Ski Resort and China Snow Town are the top places to go. Yabuli Ski Resort is about 230 km from Harbin and it is recommended to go either by train or with China Discovery’s private car. China Snow Town is a little bit remote about 280km from Harbin. We highly recommended you to go with China Discovery since local public transportation is a little complex for you.

>> How to Get to Yabuli Ski Resort from Harbin

>> How to Get to China Snow Town from Harbin

Learn more about Harbin Transportation >>

Taxi in Harbin

Taxi in Harbin


Top Places to Visit in Harbin - Discover the Best of Harbin

No.1: Harbin Ice and Snow World

Harbin Ice and Snow World is by far the largest ice and snow art exhibition in the world. In this dreamlike theme park, not only you can see the amazing colorful illuminated ice and snow sculptures but also enjoy various interesting cultural activities and winter sports. Combined traditional Chinese elements with Western style, Harbin Ice and Snow Festival has different themes every year, providing travelers with a totally unique experience from one year to the next. No matter you come with families with kids, couples, or for honeymoon, it surely will be a romantic paradise to experience the highest level of fun with ICE and SNOW. (Opening Tips: It usually opens during December 23 to February 17 every year.)

Learn more about Harbin Ice and Snow World >>

No.2: Zhongyang Pedestrian Street

Never miss feeling the charm of an old street in a city. Zhongyang Pedestrian Street, also called Central Street, is the one in Harbin city. Stretching 1450 meters long, it starts from the Flood Control Monument in the north and ends to Jingwei Street in the south. There are altogether 71 buildings standing alongside in different styles - renaissance, baroque, eclecticism, modernism, presenting the charming European history over 300 years. It is the only cobbled street in Harbin. A walking here, you could not only feel the old fascinating site, but also soak up the festival atmosphere and taste some snacks and exotic food.

No.3: Sun Island (Tai Yang Dao)

Sun Island is a large park located at the north bank of Songhua River, opposite to Stanlin Park. It is one of the top attractions should be listed into your Harbin travel. Sun Island is composed of Sun Stone & Sun Gate, Squirrel Island, Swan Lake, Ice and Snow Museum, Art Museum, etc.

When traveling in winter, you won’t miss Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Fair. It has a new theme every year. Sun Island belongs to the important venue to enjoy Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. Different activities with lots of fun and excitement invite you come to this amazing island.

No.4: China Snow Town

China Snow Town is the no.1 snow town in China. Usually, it takes about 1.5-2 days for the visiting. Located in Shuangfeng Wood Farm in Hailin City (under the jurisdiction of Mudanjiang City), China Snow Town is about 280 kilometers away from Harbin, which needs about 5-6 hours by driving. This traditional village consists of around twenty wooden houses decorated with strings of golden corn and red chili hung to dry. In winter the snow here can reach up to two meters, forming a fantastic wonderland. Its high mountains, local traditional wooden houses, animals, trees, and the sunrise are all greatly different from those in the other world’s snowy areas.

Standing on the plank road you can catch the panoramic view of the whole snow-capped town. Also, watch local shows at Dream Home performed by the locals in dialect. Enjoy outside snow activities to fully play with snow, like sledding, snowtubing, skiing...or, pay a visit to the Folk Culture Museum to learn some history and facts about the locals, the town and the loggers. If you like hiking, it will be great to do some hiking to the nearby Yangcao Mountain to watch sunrise form the snow and forest. The best time to visit China Snow Town is during late December to early March. It will be a great trip when combining your tour with Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in one go! Learn more about China Snow Town and its Highlights >>

>> 5 Days Charming Harbin & China Snow Town Winter Tour

No.5: Yabuli Ski Resort

Where is the best place to ski around Harbin? The answer definitely should be Yabuli Ski Resort. Well known as the largest ski resort in China, it is located 23 kilometers from Yabuli Town, Shangzhi City and about 230 kilometers away from Harbin. Yabuli Ski Resort is composed of three peaks of Changbai Mountain Range, namely the Main Guokui Mountain (altitude: 1374.8m), the Second Guokui Mountain (altitude: 1100m) and the Third Guokui Mountain (altitude: 1000m).

Travelers can try different kinds of activities in Yabuli Ski Resort - skiing, snow tubing, snowmobiling and so on. The popular locations to experience skiing are The New Sport Committees Ski Resort (新体委滑雪场), Sun Mountain Ski Resort (新濠阳光度假村滑雪场), Avaunce International Exhibition Center Ski Resort (雅旺斯(亚布力)国际会展中心), Club Med Resort Yabuli (地中海俱乐部). The skiing prices (2 hours for example) range from CNY 150 to CNY 600. You can check it and discuss with your tour guide the difference before skiing. Learn more about Yabuli Ski Resort and Ski Prices >>

>> 5 Days Harbin Winter Tour with Yabuli Ski Resort

Harbin Ice and Snow World

Harbin Ice and Snow World

Zhongyang Pedestrian Street in Harbin

Zhongyang Pedestrian Street

Harbin Sun Island

Harbin Sun Island

China Snow Town

China Snow Town

Yabuli Ski Resort

Snowmobiling in Yabuli Ski Resort

St. Sophia Church in Harbin

St. Sophia Church in Harbin

Harbin is more than you can imagine with many other top places to visit. If you are interested, you can find more on our 10 Best Places to Visit in Harbin. Stunning pictures and brilliant experience are waiting for you to explore. Go ahead.


Fantastic Things to Do in Harbin

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

January 5 of every year is the most exciting day in Harbin. It is the official opening day of Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. It is the world’s biggest snow and ice festival. Together with the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, Canada's Quebec Winter Carnival and Norway's Holmenkollen Ski Festival, they are the top 4 winter festivals in the world. Harbin Ice and Snow Festival features massive ice and snow sculptures attracting more than 1 million visitors. Travelers can go and visit some of the important venues to enjoy this grand festival. Harbin Ice and Snow World is the major site spanning over 600,000 square meters and including more than 100 landmarks. It is usually made of 110,000 cubic meters of ice and 120,000 cubic meters of snow.

Harbin Ice and Snow World shows you an amazing Disney wonderland with different kinds of snow sculptures, Sun Island is the place held the annual International Snow Sculpture Art Fair, while Zhaolin Park is the warm location to held Ice Lantern Show. Winter swimming, Ice Hockey game, International Ice Sculpture Competition, Ice Wedding...are the highlights in this Ice City. The 36th-annual festival will open on January 5, and will run through the end of February.

>> 3 Days Harbin Ice and Snow Festival Tour

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Go Skiing

Skiing is involved with awesome fun! Get out in the fresh mountain air, recharge your batteries and invigorate your well-being. When thinking of skiing in China, the first place comes to your mind should be Harbin - the Ice City. No matter you are beginners who want to try skiing or who are fond of skiing, you can find something here. There are many ski resorts in Harbin either outdoor or indoor, and some of the famous ones include:

Top 5 Harbin Ski Resorts Features Best For Distance from Harbin Recommended Time
Yabuli Ski Resort Largest and most professional ski resort in Harbin;
Have a zoo where you can see pandas
All kinds of skiers 198 km 1-2 days
Jihua Ski Resort Closest ski resort to Harbin City Beginners as well as Intermediates 38 km Half day or 1 day
Longzhu Erlongshan Ski Resort The first ski resort to build standard ski ground for children in China Beginners as well as Intermediates 70 km Half day or 1 day
Pingshan Shenlu Ski Resort There are many deer in the forest near the ski run Beginners as well as Intermediates 70 km Half day or 1 day
Wanda Indoor Ski Resort In the downtown area Beginners as well as Intermediates In the downtown area Half day or 1 day

To know more details about the ski resorts in Harbin, you can check Harbin Skiing & Snowboarding - Top 5 Harbin Ski Resorts.


Try Flavored Russian Food or Harbin Local Food & Snacks

Though Harbin cuisine is not listed into Chinese Eight Cuisines, there are many to try when traveling to Harbin. Free your stomach and you can taste the exotic flavored Russian food around Zhongyang Pedestrian Street or enjoy Harbin local food or street food when wander leisurely.

Harbin has earned the nickname of “Moscow in the East” for its special history and location. Thanks to its proximity to Russia and the long tradition of Russian immigration, Harbin is one of the best places in China for getting a more genuine taste for Russian Cuisine. Where to Try Russian Food in Harbin? You can check the following recommended Russian restaurants in Harbin for reference.

  1. ● Portman’s Restaurant (波特曼西餐厅)
    Address: 53 Recreation Zoo, Qidao Jie, Zhongyang Avenue, Daoli District, Harbin (哈尔滨道里区中央大街西七道街休闲区53号)
    Opening Hours: 10:30-24:00
    Average: CNY 100/person
  2. ● Huamei Restaurant (华梅西餐厅)
    Address: 142 Zhongyang Avenue, Daoli District, Harbin (哈尔滨道里区中央大街142号)
    Opening Hours: 11:00-21:00
    Average: CNY 75/person
  3. ● Europa Western Restaurant (欧罗巴西餐厅)
    Address: No.22, West ShiDao Street, Daoli District, Harbin (哈尔滨市道里区西十道街22号)
    Opening Hours: 11:00-21:30
    Average: CNY 95/person

Besides the Russian food, you can try the traditional Harbin local food and snacks when wandering along Zhongyang Pedestrian Street, including Harbin dumplings, Harbin red sausage, Fried Pork in Scoop, Harbin Ice Cream, Harbin Fruit Skewers (Tang Hu Lu) and more.

Learn more about Harbin Food | Famous Cuisine, Street Food, Snacks & Restaurant Guide >>

Russian Food in Harbin

Russian Food in Harbin

Decide your Travel Length & Suggested Route

Unlike other destinations in China, Harbin has its own seasonal features. So, you can plan it independently in the best winter time. Most travelers would fly to Harbin and stay 3 to 6 days in and around. If you have only 3 days, the highlights must be Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. If you have 4 to 6 days, you can add the nearby destinations - Yabuli Ski Resort as well as China Snow Town in one go to experience the fullest fun with SNOW.

Some travelers would like to travel in winter to see different unique side of China that they usually cover Beijing and Harbin into one trip with a high speed train from Beijing to Harbin. It may take 6 to 7 days with two hot destinations in winter. If you want a complete China tour for about 8 days, you can plan it accordingly - Beijing - Harbin - Shanghai.

Have your own ideas and travel date, feel free to tell us any information and we are here ready to help you design a satisfactory Harbin tour!

Recommended Trips:

>> 6 Days Amazing Ice and Snow Tour from Beijing by High Speed Train (Beijing - Harbin)

>> 8 Days Best Winter Tour to Beijing Harbin Shanghai (Beijing - Harbin - Shanghai)


Where to Stay in Harbin - Best Locations & Recommended Hotels

Usually, travelers would like to stay 2 to 4 nights in and around Harbin. A lot of first-timers to Harbin choose to stay in the downtown part of Daoli since there contains a lot of popular tourist attractions such as St. Sophia Cathedral, Stalin Park, etc. Or, since the Sun Island and Ice & Snow World are rightly sitting in the north side of Songhua River, you can choose to stay in the south part of Songbei which boasts the most high standard luxury hotels among the whole Harbin City.

Where to stay out of Harbin City? You can stay Yabuli Ski Resort and China Snow Town. Hotels range from 3 star to 5 star in Yabuli that you can choose your accommodation based on your budget and likes. The accommodation in China Snow Town is a little limited. There is only 5-star hotel called Xuexiang Xueyun Hot Spring Resort Hotel and its price is a little expensive. If you like, you can try local family hostels where you can sleep on the Kang Bed (a brick bed heated with a fire underneath).

Learn more about Where to Stay in Harbin: Best Areas and Recommended Hotels >>

Shangri-La Hotel in Harbin

Shangri-La Hotel in Daoli District


Extended Destinations & Travel Beyond Harbin in Winter

What are the other best destinations to travel in winter together with Harbin? The answer is “MANY”. The golden triangle cities (Beijing, Xian and Shanghai) are always the classic destinations in China even you visit in winter. Travelers would meet a snow-capped royal ancient capital with fascinating Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heave, old Hutongs and of course, the Great Wall. There is no best time restriction to visit Xian - always waiting for you to marvel at its grand Terracotta Warriors and Ancient Wall...Shanghai is modern in four seasons - the Bund is still flourishing and glittering during winter days.

If you want to stay longer in China in winter, you can extend to Chengdu, Three Gorges along the Yangtze River as well as Hong Kong. Flights and high speed trains are well connected with each other that you never need to worry about the transfer. More importantly, winter belongs to the off-season in most part of China that you could enjoy some discounts when booking hotels and flights. Why not travel with China Discovery in the winter???

Beijing Forbidden City Winter Scene

Beijing Forbidden City Winter Scene

Recommended Harbin Tours

Top 3 Harbin tours chosen by most customers to explore Harbin in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Gorgeous Ice and Snow World
3 Days Harbin Ice Festival Tour

Harbin

China Snow Town
5 Days Charming Harbin & China Snow Town Winter Tour

Harbin / China Snow Town / Harbin

Hiking Experience in China Snow Town
6 Days In-depth Harbin Tour with China Snow Town & Yabuli Skiing

Harbin / China Snow Town / Yabuli Ski Resort / Harbin

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