Although Harbin is not considered a huge city, they have a decent number of site seeing locations. Another very popular site is Zhongyang Street. This street is very old, dating back to 1898. It is a pedestrian only street that is about 4700 feet long and lined with restaurants, shops (selling Chinese and Russian goods), malls and more. It is supposedly the longest pedestrian street in Asia.
Luckily for us, our hotel was right across from Zhongyang Street. The street was decorated with many snow and ice sculptures as well as many Christmas decorations as well. They even had a huge Christmas tree.
Here is one of the cutest ice sculptures, minions are cute even when made out of ice.
If you get hungry, you can try some street food out of a food stall made of ice! I’m fairly certain at these temperatures that the food stays hot only for an instant!
We also had some delicious food. There’s a lot of Sichuan food, when it’s cold spicy food really does the trick. I also love all the different pancakes, noodles and dumplings! Don’t forget to wash everything down with some Harbin beer, like 雪花 (Snowflake).
At night the street is lit up, and during the Holidays there is a little extra pizzaz with the addition of Christmas lights.
Next up is Saint Sophia Cathedral. This Cathedral was built in 1907, during the time many Russians resided in Harbin due to the construction of the Transiberian Railway. As we know the People’s Republic of China does not allow outside religions to be practiced, and as such in 1958, Saint Sophia was closed and then in 1996 was converted into the Municipal Architecture and Art Museum.
The museum is open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Entrance fee for adults is 20 RMB/pp. The inside is quite run down and to be honest there is no real art. There are a lot of photos showing the changes Harbon has undergone over the years. For the price though, it was worth a look.
The night view of St. Sophia and the square is quite nice.
So the biggest draw to Harbin is the Snow and Ice World. It is open from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM. The price is steep at a whopping 300 RMb, but it really is worth it. I was in awe of the ice buildings that they had created!
Here’s an overview of the festival. I definitely would recommend you go at night, as that is when all the lights can really be seen through the ice. Of course, make sure you really bundle up before you set out as it will take you a few hours to walk through everything.
They have some interesting creatures for you to meet. Here I am with a snow fox. We also saw some llamas, camels, and reindeer.
The lights really are fantastic to see. You can’t believe how high these structures are until you are standing there in front of them!
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing all there is to do in Harbin. We were glad we made the trip, but I don’t think we will be going back in the near future. Next stop, somewhere bright and sunshiny!