Harbin Travel Guide

  • Harbin Ice Festival
    Harbin Ice Festival
    by SurfaceTravel
  • My son and I
    My son and I
    by BobandHua
  • Ice-sculpture at the 6th Annual Ice & Snow Festiva
    Ice-sculpture at the 6th Annual Ice &...
    by A-plus

Harbin Highlights

  • Pro
    mke1963 profile photo

    mke1963 says…

     One of the warmest cities in China 

  • Con
    calcaf38 profile photo

    calcaf38 says…

     Poor city transit, polar temperatures 

  • In a nutshell
    THLIN profile photo

    THLIN says…

     freeze weather but passionful people 

Harbin Things to Do

  • Harbin Ice Sculptures

    Not to be mistaken with snow sculptures. Ice sculptures illuminated by coloured lights may not be everybody's idea of pretty but still, it wows you with its sheer size and creativity. The coloured lights otherwise brighten up gloomy wintry nights. Many sculptures are created to be the actual size of buildings and you could actually enter these ice...

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  • Church of St. Sophia

    Russian influence at its peak. The St Sophia church is one of the last few remaining Russian structures left in Harbin. We learnt how another Russian church was tragically destroyed during the Communist regime - as the church was completely hewn without nails and bolts, some really "intelligent" bloke only needed to remove some beams which were the...

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  • Sun Island Park

    Within the Sun Island Park, there is a Russian theme village. The entrance ticket is a mock of a Russian passport and inside, you can find Russian style buildings. Enter the buildings to see how a typical Russian house may be decorated. Pretty touristy but if you're already on the island, pop by for some pretty sights. I think it actually may look...

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Harbin Hotels

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Harbin Restaurants

  • Fake "Russian" food

    I'm from Russia, so I was hoping to have some nice Russian food in Harbin while I was visiting there last week. We found a place named "Tatos" in 127 Zhongyang Dajie. At first it seemed inviting as the decoration was nice, but when the food came, I was shocked. It's not Russian food at all, just some terrible chinese interpretation! The fish soup...

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  • Odd Name for a Chinese Coffee Shop

    Eclectic best describes this place. The walls are covered in pictures and Americana, It's hard to imagine how all this junk ended up in Harbin. There are pictures on the wall of a local Chinese guy in various military uniforms. He is the owner. I especially like the one with him and a hot Russian girl who is wearing a naval uniform. The coffee is...

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  • Russian food in Harbin, forget it !

    Want to test some russian food in Harbin ? See the numerous tourist shops along Zhongyang pedestrian street bearing, some of theme bearing a "Russian products" sign. Russian products inside : kind of airport duty free stuff, but 10 times the price you would pay in Lenin's country... Russian food at Russia Cafe ? How to express it ?... The messy...

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Harbin Nightlife

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  • Real bars of Harbin

    Check out my rankings of Harbin's Best Bars at Harbinnightlife.wordpress.comThis focuses on the bars for people who live in the city, not really the student life, which was meek. That mostly just involves coffee shops. Status quo does the following:If Chinese, then dress for success.If foreign, then dress like you are aware that you are...

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  • Saturday Night on Walking Street

    On Saturday night, the Harbin Walking Street comes alive. The flood monument hosts a big show with singers and comedians performing for the crowd. As you walk down the street you will see performers of all sorts. The best was in front of the USA-BUCKS coffee shop.The owner of the coffee shop is a local character who sees himself as some sort of...

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  • Sleep Rules?

    Harbin seems to be a city of somewhat restrained outings- the shops close down fairly early, it seems, even on Friday and Saturday night. There are discos, clubs, KTV bars... places for the youth to party away the night, but the center street, at least, seems to empty fairly early. Maybe it's the cold. So there's planty of stuff to do, but it's...

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Harbin Transportation

  • Scan Harbin Using Taxi

    Getting around and about using taxi is convenient. However, doing some research on fares indication will reduce your risk of being rip off.We used 2 cabs (husband&wife team) on our last visit. We find them honest and reliable. If you need their contact (speak Chinese only) pm me.

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  • Taxis from the airport

    Don't accept the 200 or so yuan prices the taxi drivers offer you at first. No matter what they offer, the going rate from the airport to the city center is about 120. Now, there is a toll booth enroute to the airport/city, at which you must pay an additional 20 yuan. Sometimes the taxi drivers are willing to take the rate of 120 and pay the 20 out...

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  • Motorcycle Transport

    At various street corners around the city, at some bus stops and driving around you will see many motorcycles. Often these are available for hire, with driver. I don't know the pricing, and by the way these guys seem to drive, it might not be worth it, but if you need a quick way around, and don't mind taking risks, this might be for you.It may not...

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Harbin Shopping

See all 14 Shopping in Harbin
  • No Souvenirs?

    One of the problems I've found with Harbin as a tourist destination is that it's really hard to find good souvenirs. No one's yet made "Flood Control Monument" miniatures, and post cards don't come easily. If you go inside Sophia Church, they sell some postcards, but those are really the only ones I've found in Harbin.There are plenty of Russian...

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  • Center Street

    Harbin's Center Street is a hive of commercialism, with western name brand stores set amid Chinese brand stores. If you're looking to shop, take the 101 to its northern terminus, which is nearby. Other buses may stop here too, I'll find out which ones if I can. Taxis tend to stop at the southern end of the street, away from the river. It's a nice...

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  • Where's the Wal-Mart?

    Carrefours seem to be popular places in Harbin. At least they are always busy and usually very warm. Greasy meat-and-fat-on-a-stick and ice cream greet you at the Haping Lu Carrefour, as you step inside, past the books on tables in the entryway. There is a shopping mall of sorts taking up the majority of the place, with restaurants scattered about....

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Harbin Local Customs

  • Burning for the Dead

    During holidays such as Friday, April 4, the Chinese remember the dead- those from wars, as seen in the war memorial outside our apartment window, and on the streets and sidewalks where people burn special paper, money (largely fake) and gold-colored foil in piles. Some burn on the sides of the road, some opt to burn in the roads... I guess they...

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  • PITURE!

    Get your photo taken by any of the few people holding posters with photos on them by the Flood Control Monument. I don't know how much they cost, but it may be better than handing someone your camera. They don't often bother me with my camera stuff, and aren't pushy as touts, but hey, if you want a souvenir photo, they'll do it for you.

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  • Kites

    The Chinese seem to like flying kites. It's restful, peaceful and fun, though I've watched them do so around power lines and wasn't too happy... anyway, near the flood control monument you can rent or buy kites to fly. I've never fully understood "kiting", or whatever it's called, but they enjoy it and it's a great entertainment for kids as well.

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Harbin Warnings and Dangers

  • Taxi cheats in Harbin

    We arrived in Harbin after 7pm at night. The taxi driver was waiting by the door and took us to his cab. It was -14F so we rushed into the cab and he drove off. After driving about a quarter mile from the airport he turned to us and said 300!! He said the his meter was broken. We argued with him but realized that we had no choice. We were too far...

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  • Taxis

    The Harbin taxis often doctor their meters. They also want short trips where people get in, pay the minimum charge, get out, and another person gets in. If you are trying to go a longer distance, such as from the shopping area to the bus station, they will refuse to carry you. If you can't read Chinese, you won't be able to read the bus sign. You...

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  • Travelling by taxi to the airport

    when I was preparing for my mid wiinter trip to Harbin - which means temperatures of below 30-40 degrees celsius! (yes its a trip into the deep freeze up there in the far north of China) - the dangers and warnings I was made aware of were particularly regarding unscrupulous taxi drivers who were known to have threatened travellers enroute to the...

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Harbin Tourist Traps

  • Sun Island: Beware of Tram Conman

    We boarded a tram in the park, which was suppose to offer unlimited hop on/off services. The conductor will tear off a corner of your ticket each time you board. However, beware when boarding to continue your onward journey. As the pick/drop stops are not clearly defined, you could be misguided to board on the 'exit' route. We had a taste of this....

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  • Sun Island: Rip off food kiosk

    Take along your own snacks and drinks. Otherwise, be prepared to pay ridiculous price. Avoid the hot drinks, awfully bland & tasteless. The high price you pay is more for feet warming service. We took off our wet socks and have them roasted on heater to defreeze ;) How exorbitant was the rip off you asked? We were charged approx RMB200 for 5 awful...

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  • Syndicate con job @river (Sun Island,...

    The syndicate operates in airport and train station. They tried to make friend with you and lead you to take boat to Sun Island, a popular destination. They ambushed you from bus stop, train station and streets with DIFFERENT people approaching you. Their aim is to guide you to their planned destination - their PRIVATE ferry terminal.These private...

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Harbin What to Pack

  • Harbin Survival Kits

    Jacket & pants (recommend ski/ down)Fleece sweatersPadded gloves (recommend ski gloves)Wool socks (many extra pairs)Threaded shoes - otherwise get them upon arrival. Price range approx RMB50/pair to RMB200/pair (well designed). Bargain hard. You can find plenty at the Zhongyang Dajie underground shopping area.MouthcoverScarf/neck warmer

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  • Harbin Winter

    Rolling bags are annoying and are just not the way to go. Ever. I don't care if you are just rolling from airport to hotel. They are evil! Evil I tell you!Backpacks are ideal, especially if you plan on hiking around, but they can be a bit troublesome at times. I must say, that on trains, especially in the mad rush that becomes getting on Chinese...

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  • Dress Smart, Not Thick!

    Dressing thick isn't as effective as dressing smart. It's easy to tell who're from warmer climes eg Singapore as they invariably look like overstuffed teddy bears.Your inner layers (long underwear) are the most important, multiple layers if necessary.Get good snow shoes, or shoes with fluffy insides, especially the inner soles, as these will help...

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Harbin Off The Beaten Path

  • Small Street Market

    Every day, a least up to mid-October, there is a street market at the corner on Baojian (???) and Haping Lu... it's right across from our old apartments. They sell fruits, vegetables, meats and steamed buns, household goods, pots and pans, chopsticks, shoes, clothes. It's just a nice place to walk... it's a local market with no tourists, and while...

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  • Japanese Inhumanity -- Unit 731 Germ...

    Unit 731 was a section of the Japanese army in World War Two which did experimental research on germ warfare. The facility was outstanding in their use of LIVE, HEALTHY HUMAN BODIES for experiments which were referred to as "maruta" -- literally meaning "logs". In a manner common to Japanese military throughout Asia then, what happened here could...

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  • Jewish Cemetery near Harbin

    At some time between the departure of the last Jews after WWII and the modern cosy-toesy relations between China and Israel, the old Jewish cemetery was relocated to a beautiful, peaceful spot.A great effort is made to honor those dead, and to help the descendants find their Harbin ancestors.Many of the tombstones appear to have been vandalized at...

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Harbin Sports & Outdoors

  • THLIN's Profile Photo

    by THLIN Written Feb 9, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    It's one of the best skiing field in Heilongjiang Sheng.
    Name: Long Zhu Er Long Shan

    Equipment: All you need is MONEY!! The club is well-organized with perfect equipment. Next to the skiing field, there is a lake where, in winter, there are many activities on the iced lake, such as horse-riding.

    Related to:
    • Skiing and Boarding

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Harbin Favorites

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  • vege

    You can order vege dishes in Chinese restaurants. Western style are basically pizza, burger and russian. Which are not vege at all. 3-4 days are good enough if you are not going to ski. I'd say 3 is definitely more than enough.I'm going back to Harbin around New Year from the US, so kindly let me know if you needed more help.

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  • Ice Festival in Harbin

    If you're only planning on visiting the Ice Festival, there's not really much need for a guide. There are plenty of taxis, as well as a regular bus service, from the centre of the city directly to the festival sites.The airport is pretty far from the city centre, but there's an airport bus which is cheap and quick. Taxi drivers at the airport will...

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  • Harbin- Not that great

    Harbin, I must say, is hardly inspiring as a city. At least elsewhere in China there's occasional respite from the dull throb of concrete-obsessed builders. Sure, Harbin has the riverfront and the Flood Control Monument and even a few temples, but for the majority of the city, there is little to recommend it. After months here, though, I must say...

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Explore Deeper into Harbin
Historical Harbin - Centre Street
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Temple of Bliss
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Heilongjiang Gardens and Museum
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Jile Buddhist Temple
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Harbin Zoo
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Russian Village
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Winter Sports
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Snow Sculpture Festival
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Ice sculptures in Parks
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Russian Church
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Jile Buddhist Temple
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St Sophia Cathedral
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Harbin Ice Carving Festival
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Disney Ice Festival
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The Ice and Snow Festival in January-February
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Ice & Snow Festival
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The charms of St. Sophia
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ski! russian atmos!
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Across from the Tea House
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Fresh
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Pollution
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Ice Festival
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9th Harbin Ice and Snow World Poop
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Harbin Ice and Snow World (9th)
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No street fare
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Bone
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Change Your Brakes
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California Beef Noodle King U.S.A.
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Traffic
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Motorcycle Transport
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Heilongjiang Botanical Gardens
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Flood Control Monument
Local Customs
Russian Culinary Influence in China
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Western/Russian
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Sophia Church
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Don't miss the... toilet? Thanks, MSG.
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Germanic?
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TAXI cheat
Warnings and Dangers
Airport to city center
Transportation
Map of Harbin

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