View Map

Overview

While the greater metropolitan area encompasses nearly 10 million people, making this China's most important and most northerly major city, Harbin attracts most of its visitors to a walkable district along Zhong Yang Dajie, part of the historic Daoliqu District. Terminating on the banks of the Songhua River, this boulevard and surrounding streets constitute a time capsule of early 20th-century, largely Russian architecture, with shops, restaurants and hotels from a bygone era. The Russians established themselves here in 1897 during the planning of the trans-Siberian railroad, and the many baroque and byzantine facades with spires and cupolas ...

While the greater metropolitan area encompasses nearly 10 million people, making this China's most important and most northerly major city, Harbin attracts most of its visitors to a walkable district along Zhong Yang Dajie, part of the historic Daoliqu District. Terminating on the banks of the Songhua River, this boulevard and surrounding streets constitute a time capsule of early 20th-century, largely Russian architecture, with shops, restaurants and hotels from a bygone era. The Russians established themselves here in 1897 during the planning of the trans-Siberian railroad, and the many baroque and byzantine facades with spires and cupolas stand out, as Harbin is not yet a fully modern Chinese city clotted with skyscrapers. Stalin Park on the Songhua River attracts strolling crowds and Saint Sophia Cathedral, completed as a Russian Orthodox Church in 1932, is the most impressive monument. The Harbin Jewish New Synagogue on Tong Jiang Jie records the history of Jewish immigration from Russia after 1917, and an older synagogue up the street is now a lively youth hostel. Harbin's claim as an international tourist destination relies on the annual Harbin Snow and Ice Festival, one of the world's four largest, with massive snow sculptures on Sun Island, lantern displays in Zhaolin Park and vast buildings of ice at Ice and Snow World on the shores of the river. The festival's monuments appear in early January and last until they melt. Harbin has two other festivals of note, a beer gala in early August and a music festival every two years in July. Sun Island, a short ferry or gondola ride across the river, boasts summer swimming, go-cart racing and a large Siberian Tiger Reserve. Winter brings skiers to the slopes of nearby Yabuli Ski Resort, China's best.

J.D. Brown
About the Expert

J.D. Brown is a contributor to Frommer's China and Frommer's Beijing, coauthor of Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Berlitz Shanghai, Berlitz Singapore, and other books.

view full overview

J.D. Brown for Triporati

Must See, Do

Save It for Next Time

info

If time is short, save these attractions for a second visit.

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Heilongjiang Province, Northeast China, southern bank of the Songhua River.
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese, Russian
  • Currency: Chinese Yuan
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Long cold winters bring sun as well as snow, and summers are relatively mild.