I’ve traveled to Harbin between Christmas and New Year, in December 2017. This time I traveled with a Chinese friend of mine, Ivy.
We slept there for three nights, right next to the pedestrian street Zhong Yang 中央大街 in the city centre. I might add that at -23 °C/-9.4°F (with a real feel at -33°C), that was really helpful!
Why is Harbin so special?
- Feels like you’re in Russia or Sibiu (in Romania)!
- It’s so cold that it makes you want to visit it even more
- You get to see the Ice Sculpture Festival
- The “gastronomy” here is a fusion between Chinese and Russian cuisine. Authentic dishes are delicious! At times, I felt like eating in Romania, remembering those home cooked dishes with a lot of nostalgia.
- Cultural remains
In other words it’s a delight for the eyes and the taste buds!
- Saint Sophia Cathedral, used to be a Russian Orthodox church. Now it’s a like a museum inside. You can still see the mural paintings.
- Zhong Yang Street, pedestrian street that makes you fell like in an old Saxon city. You get a glimpse of the Ice Sculpture Festival, as ice sculptures are present.
- Volga Manor, it’s a private owned park about an hour drive from Harbin. Completely worth going there! It’s an eclectic place: Reconstructed Russian style churches and houses, you can even ski there (you put your skis on, take the elevator and slide down from the third floor or the “castle”, then you have a special ski lift, just stand on it to get back and start all over; you can hand paint a wooden Russian doll Matrioska etc. But the nicest feeling is being in a completely snow covered place, even the tree branches are white, it’s magical. As is the sound of snow cracking under your boots.
- LaoDaoWai, old Harbin city. Very nice place with some refurbished lanes and some still under construction. You can get to see some nice architecture still standing. Also one of the most renowned restaurant in Harbin is located there.
- the Ice Sculpture Festival – it’s why everybody comes here after all!
If you have time, you can also check out the Gogol Street and Bookshop, the market near Saint Sophia square, the frozen river when you get to the end of the pedestrian street (crazy things happen there at night), the new opera house (Harbin Grand Theatre) is amazing construction, Temple of Bliss, Harbin Confucian Temple.