Cheap Flights To Harbin
China's most northerly major city and the capital of Heilongjiang province, Harbin is an inspired holiday choice. It's well-known for the world-famous International Snow and Ice Festival that takes place each winter and for its proximity to Yabuli, the country's top ski resort. However, attractions like Sun Island Park and Harbin Amusement Park make the city equally appealing as a summer destination.
Founded in 1897 as a base for Russian engineers working on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Harbin was captured by Japanese forces during WWII and only returned to China in 1946. Although it's a relatively new city, visitors may be surprised to learn that the city is the eighth most populous in China. The greater metropolitan district has a population of over 10 million and 4 million of those live in the city centre.
Today, this vibrant and friendly city is an intriguing prospect for tourists. History enthusiasts will love the mix of Russian and Chinese architecture while outdoor fans will enjoy exploring places like Sun Island Park. It's also a great choice for winter sports fans and an excellent base for walking and cycling breaks in spring and summer. The city's cultural diversity extends to shopping and travellers can buy Chinese ginseng or Russian dolls at the Chinese Russian Market or find designer brands at the upscale MYKAL Department Store shopping centre.
Things To Do
It's hard to escape those stunning ice sculptures in Harbin during the winter months and the International Snow and Ice Festival attracts visitors from all over the world. Ice and Snow World stretches along the banks of the Songhua River and the illuminated giant ice carvings look sensational after dark. Sun Island Park is home to the beautiful snow sculptures- unlike the ice carvings, they aren't illuminated so they're best seen during the day. Those travelling to the city in summer can still see some of the best at the refrigerated Ice Lantern Exhibition Hall.
Visit the Old Town on the banks of the Songhua River for colourful Russian Baroque and Byzantine buildings complete with spires and cupolas. Landmarks include Saint Sophia Cathedral which dates from 1907. Other notable attractions include Heilongjiang Provincial Museum. It's the province's biggest museum and exhibits cover relics from the Jin and Qing dynasties as well as Russian, Japanese and WWII relics.
- A Centre for Outdoor Activities
Yabuli Ski Resort lies to the south-east of the city and it's the training base for China's Alpine and Nordic ski teams. By far the best ski resort in China, Yabuli boasts 9 intermediate to advanced pistes, a beginner's slope and a 500km Nordic trail.
Calendar Of Events
Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival: Takes place from December to February all over the city.
International Beer Festival: Rivals any German Oktoberfest for sheer size. Sun Island every August.
Summer Music Festival: A biennial July event featuring pop and classical artists from China and Russia.