Harbin, China

Harbin was our introduction to mainland China. In two days we managed to see a lot. It started of badly with our group being swarmed by the Harbin taxi population upon arriving at the airport. Travelling in a group of 10 meant we needed 3 taxis which made things difficult. Later on we found out we were ripped off by the taxi drivers as well.

To make things worse when we arrived at the Friendship Palace hotel, the hotel did not have details of our booking made through hotel.com.au even though hotel.com.au had charged our credit card. We did manage to get rooms but only after repaying.

The next day, still shaken from our taxi experience we all decided to arrange a 2 day tour for ¥938 (approximately $152AUD) per person. The tour included a tour bus, all entry tickets and a tour guide.

Included in the tour was:

Harbin Tiger Preserve

We came face to face with many big cats, including tigers, lions and even a liger. We started in a minivan driving inside the large open enclosures; the tigers were quite interested in us, coming right up to the van’s windows. Following the drive, we went by foot on the internal walkways and experienced tiger feeding time.

Large tiger at the entrance of Harbin Tiger PreserveOne of the stars of the show, Tiger at Harbin Tiger PreserveTiger approaching minivan of tourists
Workers repairing the enclosure in the presence of onlookersLioness with blood covered paws licking some iceTravis and Sonya and a few tigers at Harbin Tiger Preserve

Harbin Polarland

Opened in 2006, Harbin Polarland was featured seals sea lions, penguins, Arctic Wolves, dolphins and even a polar bear, plus many aquariums with exotic marine life. The extrance also featured many snow and ice sculpture and as this was our first experience around them we had a lot of fun taking lots of photos.

Sonya and I (barely visible) sliding down an ice slide at the entrance of Harbin PolarlandSea lion showSpooky looking eels
PenguinsPolar bearArctic Wolves

(Ninth) Harbin Ice and Snow World

Harbin Ice and Snow World featured some of the world’s largest ice sculptures. On entering the size and complexity of the brightly coloured sculptures was quite outstanding. The ice sculptures were replicas of the Great Wall, Pantheon, Five-Pagoda Temple, Gate of Heavenly Peace, Stonehenge, plus many more I don’t know the name of.
Entrance to Harbin Ice and Snow WorldChurch coloured pinkIce sculptures at Harbin Ice and Snow World
Sonya and myself and the replica PantheonIce sculptures at Harbin Ice and Snow WorldOverview of the ice sculptures at Harbin Ice and Snow World

Harbin Jihua Ski Resort

The second day started with a 1 hour drive to Jihua Ski Resort to attempt skiing. The tour included 2 hours of equipment hire and admission. Even though the ski slopes were artificial, they still looked very beautiful covered in snow.

Sonya and our friends and the instructorSonya in all her ski gear about to hit the slopesSki slopes at Harbin Jihua Ski Resort
Entrance to the ski slopes at Harbin Jihua Ski ResortMyself on one of the slopesSonya, myself and friends including our tour guide

Sun Island Snow Sculptures

After skiing we ended the day with a visit to Sun Island which features snow sculptures as part of Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. The snow sculptures are lit up with coloured lights, giving them an eerie feel due to the shadows. The festival also featured the world’s largest snow sculpture.

Boy and Girl snow sculptureUs surrounded by snow covered treesWorld’s largest snow sculpture. 35-meter-tall and 162-meter-long, it is situated it what is known as the Romantic and Marvellous Area
Snow sculpture lit up with colourful lightsSonya and myself inside and small house made from iceEerie looking head ice sculpture

Harbin Russian Street and Songhua River

To end our Harbin tour and visit, we walked down the Russian Street (Zhong Yang Street). This all happened while it was snowing and lead to much shenanigans while playing with the snow. For dinner we ate traditional Russian cuisine and drank vodka and kvass. After we walked to Songhua River and walked on the river as being frozen made it quite safe.

Sonya at the Russian StreetRussian Street (Zhong Yang Street)Traditional Russian cuisine
Ice toboggan slide down the bank of the Songhua RiverTraditional Chinese sky lanternHarbin airport in the morning