Yeah, I fast forward this post. I will post about my 11 days trip to Seoul during winter later.
Finally I have decided to make the trip to Harbin. This is because of the recent direct Scoot flight from Singapore.
I also have decided to write this post in a easy to read manner.
This is written for 2018 Harbin Snow & Ice World (冰雪大世界). I went on the official opening day 5 Jan and I went again on 6 Jan.
Once you land in Harbin Taiping Airport, you will need to walk down the stairs (outdoor) then transfer into a bus.
As we all know, even the normal day temperature is always below 0 deg C. So pls bring along some of your winter wear on your hand carry. You can wear the rest of the winter wear after you collect your luggage.
You can easily find taxi outside the airport. The taxi fare from airport to Central Street (中央大街） is about 130-160RMB.
For me, I have time so I use the airport bus.
If you land at the international Arrival, you can use the free mini bus transfer to domestic airport. This is because the airport bus departs from the domestic airport.
The fare is 20RMB and you will need to buy the ticket at the bus station inside the domestic Arrival airport. For me, my hotel is at Central Street so I will take Airport Line 3.
Usually the bus will leave when it is full so you may need to wait for a while.
The bus is fast, it takes about 40mins to reach Central Street. The drop-off point is opposite Central Street entrance. You will see Holiday Inn hotel as your landmark.
For the return trip to airport, the boarding area is opposite the drop off point when you arrive. The bus timing is pretty unpredictable but give and take, every half hour frequency.
Don’t be alarmed when the airport bus arrives and there are no more seats. This is because Central Street boarding area is the last few stops before reaching the airport. There are plenty of taxis around the boarding area and they will offer you car-pooling. If you are a party of 3/4 then it will be easier to just take a taxi. The car pooling rate is about 30-40RMB/pax. The toll for taxi to enter airport is 30RMB so it will/will not be included into the fare.
Airport bus timing
The signage at the drop-off and boarding bus stop is the same. As I have mentioned earlier the timing is not really accurate. So try to have enough time if you intend to take the airport bus.
Places to stay
For me I choose to stay at Ibis nearby Sophia Church, along Zhaolin road. This is excellent choice for me because I have paid $70/night (no breakfast). The room is heated, spacious and plenty of space to walk around. The reception is 24hrs and you can store your luggage with them if you need to go on tour such as Snow Town (雪乡) which usually requires 2D1N. It is located inside a shopping centre and just besides Central street. It is also within walking distance to the Ice sculpture park, a smaller scale exhibition compared to the Snow & Ice World (冰雪大世界) and Sophia Church.
I also have look around, there are plenty of hotels/motels around so no worries on accommodation. But if you are here during peak season, it will be wiser to make reservations.
At the hotel, their wifi is very good and I can even watch Korean drama using Chinese app.
If you need FB/Google/Whatsapp services, then you can either pay for VPN or use a roaming simcard.
If you are using wifi, you can use this substitute app.
- Google Map – Baidu Map
- Internet Browser – Baidu
- WhatsApp – WeChat
Majority of the winter season tourists are here for the snow and ice festival.
There are many choices:
1. You can take tours from agents whereby they are all over the place. Note: BUYER BEWARE
2. At Ibis, there is a small tour desk at the lobby so I just use their service.
3. For the Snow & Ice World (冰雪大世界), there are many free buses but you pay for the admission fee. From the website, it cost 330RMB (at entrance), 310RMB (website).
4. Pls note that these free buses usually have a time limit, about 1.5hr to 2hrs for you to roam around before boarding.
5. If you miss the bus, you can easily find your way back by using the public bus/taxi.
This sign says from Central Street （中央大街） to Snow and Ice World (冰雪大世界） costs 5RMB single trip.
6. There is no need to spend the whole day there because it is only worth to see it during night time when the lights are lighted. This refers to 4.30pm because the sun sets at 4ish.
7. Furthermore the weather is really cold and the windchill is strong.
I paid for this tour 330RMB and nothing more. On the way back, they will drop you off at a “toilet” break whereby it is a shop.
There is no obligations to buy anything. For example, the Russian chocolate are slightly more expensive than the same Russian chocolates you will find at Central Street.
》this Russian baby chocolate costs 28RMB
》whereas it costs 22RMB at Central Street (中央大街）
》the guide will get your contact number so it is easier to download WeChat to use here. You can also inform the guide if you are late for the return bus.
As I have paid for the Snow & Ice World (冰雪大世界), I was offered a 20RMB for a day tour the following day. I mean why not since I have more places to go and travelling in a bus with a tour guide is easier.
If you do not like all these day tours, you can easily take bus/taxi to visit but the overall transport costs will be higher.
As you know 20RMB bus for the whole day, means there will be many self-expenses.
Let me list it down here.
1. 龙塔 (Dragon Tower), for photo taking
2. 索菲亚大教堂 (Sophia Church), for photo taking
3. 松花江金河湾湿地 (Golden River), pay 300 RMB, a place whereby you can pay go-kart, ATV, dogs/horses riding, snow tube, winter swim performance and etc
4. Lunch included
5. 太阳岛俄罗斯风情小镇 (Russian style town), 20 RMB (alrdy included)
6. 东北虎林园 (Siberian Tiger Park), pay 300 RMB
7. 冰雪大世界 (Snow Ice Festival world), pay 330 RMB
8. You can skip the activities and wait in the bus or you can leave the tour on your own expense. There is no such thing as you must stay until the tour ends.
9. I revisit the Snow & Ice World (冰雪大世界) because I did not see everything on my first visit.
If you are going by yourself, I have check that for #3, you need to pay 330 RMB and #6, you only need to pay 110 RMB. For the Snow Ice Festival world, it will be 330 RMB. So all in all, total will be 330 + 110 + 330 = 770 RMB but transportation and lunch and other places not included.
I took this one day trip and paid 930 RMB, so it was about 140 RMB extra (I’ve -20 RMB for #5). Not forgetting I have paid 20 RMB in the first place.
So in total 140 RMB for 11hrs of bus , lunch and personal driver and guide was pretty a good deal.
You can visit Snow Town (雪乡）and if you are being quoted a ridiculous low price then pls start asking qns. Else for all included based on 4pax sharing accommodation will be about 1100RMB/pax. If you want to have non-sharing, you have to pay more. This place is small and have limited accommodation.
I did not visit because it is a 5-6hours bus journey and another 5-6hours bus journey back.
Since I have returned from Seoul and went Harbin the following week, I do not need to see so much snow or skiing.
On your own
I take my time to explore my surrounding, Central Street (中央大街）& Ice sculpture park (150RMB) & flood control memorial & Wal-mart.
All these places are within walking distances.
Yes, you need winter wear.
My suggestions are:
1. There is no need for thermal underwear unless you are working in the snow for the whole day. You need to be “easy” when you visit the toilets.
2. Pls wear more layers if you are on day tours.
3. Pls wear lesser layers if you are going in/out of shopping areas else you are going to burn inside your winter wear.
4. Be waterproof! You don’t want to be wet and get sick.
5. Pls wear good waterproof shoes with good traction. The roads are slippery and when it start melting, higher chance of slip n fall hazards.
6. Try to walk in smaller step to avoid slipping and look before you step. Avoid icy surface and metal surface.
7. Protect your other parts of body such as face, neck, ears and hands.
8. Protect your camera or iPhones. I always keep hand warmer inside my pockets so I can warm up my iPhone else they can just shut down despite having 40% battery life.
9. Another important thing to note. Pls exercise caution and be on high alert when you cross the roads here. Even when it is green man, the cars will still move. There are also roads without traffic lights and you can see many locals/tourists crossing. Don’t forget the road is slippery so pls be safe.
I know it is strange that I list this section.
In general, if you use the toilets in the shopping centres, restaurants then it will be less dirty.
Pls bring your own tissue/toilet paper and be prepare for squatting toilets.
If you really “see” something then just try to “unsee” it.
Any other things
Pls bring enough RMB or credit cards which are accepted in China. It won’t be easy to change $ here because even tourists are being restricted to many verification.
If you are using WeChat Pay / Alipay, make sure they can work in China.
Enjoy the ice!
The weather has been good to me. The lowest was -19deg C and the snowing is not as heavy as I have encountered in Niseko/Sapporo.
Of course I have lots of photos to share but my aim of this post is not about that.