Songbei, Harbin, China
The colourful buildings you see are made entirely of ice. Multicolour lights are used to light up the ice sculptures. How freaking amazing is that! Visit the incredible ice sculptures at the largest winter festival in the world: Harbin Ice and Snow Festival.
Harbin sits in the North East of China. Attendees brave the average nightly lows of -25 degree Celsius (-13 Fahrenheit) to view the spectacular hand and laser cut sculptures. Restaurants like KFC, Pizza Hut and Chinese restaurants are available to defrost in and keep you warm.
3 Venues Comprise the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival:
- Sun Island (太阳岛 Pronounced: Tàiyáng dao): Snow sculptures which can only be seen during the day
- Ice and Snow World (冰雪世界 Pronounced: Bīngxuě shìjiè): Ice sculptures like the picture above
- Zhaolin Park (兆麟公园 Pronounced: Zhào lín gōngyuán): Ice lanterns
Sun Island is located north of Songhua river. Ice and Snow World is next door to Sun Island. You need a taxi or bus to reach Ice and Snow World from Sun Island. Zhaolin Park is in in the metro area which makes it convenient.
Each venue has its own entrance fee which can be purchased on the day at the ticket counter. The Ice and Snow World is the most expensive at 330 RMB per adult and 200 RMB per child. Carry cash as credit card is not accepted everywhere. You can ask your hotel or taxi driver to help you buy tickets.
Stay in downtown around the Russian Orthodox church. You will be in walking distance to Zhaolin Park.
Either catch the plane or train to reach Harbin from Beijing. The train is cheaper but is an 8 hour journey. Once in Harbin, you can catch a bus or hire a taxi to get to Sun Island. Make sure the taxi driver turns on the meter to avoid being scammed.
Closest International Airport: Harbin Taiping International Airport (HRB), Harbin
1) Pack for freezing cold conditions. Wear ice shoes to reduce the chance of slipping on the icy surface. Cover yourself completely by wearing a beanie and face mask. Bring heat packs to warm up your hands, feet and electronics.
2) Keep your phone or camera warm by storing it as close to your body as possible. The extreme cold will quickly drain the battery. You can also cover your electronic device in a case to keep it extra warm.
3) If you can, avoid visiting during Chinese New Year as there will be larger crowd numbers.
4) Make sure to visit at least once during the night, for the beautiful lit buildings.
5) Keep in mind English is not widely spoken in Harbin. Bring a copy of your hotel's business card to help your taxi driver.