Harbin in China and its attractions

Harbin is a Russian city in China.

Harbin is a Chinese city with Russian roots, it is still controversial for many distinguished scholars.

Despite all the historical events that happened here, the city enjoys frantic popularity among tourists.

Harbin is a unique Chinese city with a long history and rich heritage.

It was founded by Russians, so its entire culture is full of Russian traditions and very unusual for China architecture.

Today, Harbin is considered one of the largest cities in China, with a population of more than 10 million people.

Its history clearly intersects with Russian heritage, which gives Harbin a special zest. Despite its history, it is known as the “city of ice.” Every year, a festival of ice figures is held here, attracting tourists from all over the world.

The name of the city

During the long research, scientists found out that the name Harbin has nothing to do with the PRC. Until now it has not been deciphered, although there is speculation that the name comes from the Mongolian word “Kharaba”, meaning “ram’s shoulder blade”.

If judged from the perspective of geography, this explanation is reasonable. The city of Harbin is located on a hill, which from a bird’s eye view is much like a spatula.

There is another version, according to which the name comes from the Manchu and translates as “crossing.

Thanks to the huge number of picturesque places, the city has many other “decorating” names in addition to the official one. For example, Harbin is nicknamed “Eastern France” because of its sophistication.

History of the city

For a long time, the Soviet Union planned to unite Siberia with the East through the railroad. This required the consent of China.

In 1897 the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway began. It was then that the foundation of Harbin takes place. For many years, it was considered a Russian city. In five years of its existence, it grew from a small settlement into a big thriving metropolis, where houses, schools, hospitals, and trade began to develop.

But despite its Chinese location, Russian traditions are forever imprinted in the life and architecture of the city. Such a union of cultures of two very different states made Harbin a unique city, which has no analogues to this day.

In 1901, the city became the stronghold of the frontier guards of the Ministry of Finance. At the same time, the Russian-Chinese police stood guard. It was not only working people who came to the new city, but also creative types who wanted to make the city better and elevate it among others.

In 1913, more than 68,000 people already lived in Harbin. And it wasn’t just Russians and Chinese. You could meet people from different countries, speaking 50 different languages. The city grew literally by the day. After five years, its population was already over 100,000 people.

The Russian Revolution led to an increase in the city’s population to 200,000 people. This was due to the large number of refugees who fled in droves to the only Russian city in another country untouched by politics.

By 1930, the city of Harbin had a population of over 2 million. And the Chinese population did not exceed 25% of the total population.

In 1932, a new stage in the life of the city begins. Manchuria passes to Japan, and Russia relinquishes its rights to the road. Because of this, the Russian-speaking population leaves for the south of China.

By the 50-th year only a few thousand people of Russian nationality, who lived here since his birth, remained.

From that moment, a new history of the city begins. Skyscrapers and new attractions appear. But the Russians left their mark on Harbin’s history forever. It still has Russian street names and world-famous attractions.

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The city today

Harbin is now considered one of the most important strategic centers in China. It is also famous for its cultural monuments. Scientists once counted 58 memorable places here, of which 17 are the most interesting and amazing.

It has the largest airport in China. From here, planes go to more than 100 countries.

The city of Harbin can also be considered the capital of negotiations and business. This is due to a pleasant mild climate that creates comfortable conditions for work.

And most importantly, Harbin is a piece of home in a foreign country. So a trip here will give you an unforgettable experience and make you feel at home.

What to see in the city on your own

Thanks to the intertwining of cultures, Harbin is famous for its large-scale historical complexes. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Sunny Island

This is a famous place not only in the city, but in the whole country. It’s located on the banks of the Sungari River. It’s a picturesque place with the clearest lakes and exotic buildings.

In summer, thanks to the pleasant weather, the sunny island is at the top of the list to visit, and in winter it turns into a paradise for fans of winter excursions. Every year, the ice sculpture festival is held here. It is an amazing spectacle for which many tourists come to Harbin.

The territory of Sunny Island covers an area of 3,800 hectares. It consists of the largest Sunny Island and a bunch of smaller islets. However, the entire area is divided into three parts. On one side is the animal world. In the very center is the garden center. And on the opposite side of the animal world, you can visit numerous ice sculptures.

Also next to the ice sculptures is the Russian exotic center. There you will visit a Russian restaurant, walk through the alleys and even buy souvenirs from local artisans. Amazing and interesting is the village of artists. There are paintings by famous Russian masters. As a bonus, you can watch Russian movies and learn to dance in the village.


This is another of Harbin’s popular attractions. Here you can see both marine and terrestrial representatives of the animal world. A whole show with animals is held daily for those who wish to attend.

The most beloved is the beluga show. The aquarium building is not the largest, but the collection is impressive. There are all kinds of sea creatures: fish, turtles, dolphins, penguins, etc.

Window to Europe and Asia Park

If you really want to see all the world’s sights, you can come to Harbin. Here there is a very curious park “Window to Europe and Asia”.

Each year it is visited by more than 200 thousand people. The park is famous for its copies of the world’s landmarks from Europe, Asia, America and Africa. There are more than 40 human-sized copies, from the Kremlin to the Egyptian pyramids. While the adults will travel, children will be entertained by paintball and carting. After the tour, tired and satisfied tourists can relax in the pool or eat at the restaurant.

In winter time in the park is also arranged an exhibition of ice figures, and there are lessons for novice climbers.

Park to Joseph Stalin

The park covers an area of 10 square kilometers and is considered the most visited in Harbin. It was built immediately after Stalin’s death. The Chinese people hold him in high esteem, and every holiday they display a portrait of the political figure next to Engels and Marx.

There are no entertainment venues in the park, as it is designed for quiet walks.

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Zhaolin Park

Zhaolin Park was founded in 1900. It is considered one of the first buildings in Harbin. Here is the tomb of the famous Chinese general Li Zhaolin, who became famous during the Japanese War. In 1946, there was a public burial of the Chinese hero.

In 1985, the park was restored. Now there are many different attractions: picturesque artificial lakes, alleys, a lilac park, and cute little carriages that ride throughout the park.

Every year, Zhaolin Park holds a traditional ice lantern festival.

Amur Tiger Reserve

This is not only a reserve, but also one of the most popular sites visited by holidaymakers. The founder of the park-reserve was the center for the protection of tigers. The reserve was founded back in 1986, but the official opening took place only 10 years later. At the very beginning, there were only 8 tigers living here.

Currently, there are more than 30 tigers.

The zapovednik is divided into five districts: the hatchery, the area with adult tigers, the park for young tigers, the African lion park and the hiking area. All areas of the park except the last are allowed to visit only by special vehicle. The park also has a museum, which will tell you the story of the origin of tigers.

Old Quarter

Only Russian buildings, built more than a hundred years ago, are concentrated in this area. Despite some gloominess, tours here are always interesting and informative. You can even find shops with antiques in the area.

Heilongjiang Museum

The museum was founded in 1904. Before that, this building was a store called “Moscow” and then a post office. The roof of the museum is a work of art in the French style. The area of the whole museum is 12 thousand square meters. З

over its history has been collected more than 107 exhibits. The collection of the Heilongjiang Museum is divided into three halls. The first one contains archeological finds, the second one contains animals of the modern world, and the third one contains prehistoric animals.

Science and Technology Museum

Construction began in 2001. The official opening was in August 2003. There are more than 200 exhibits on several floors.

The first floor contains exhibits relating to the exact sciences.

The second floor is represented by items representing the latest technology.

And finally, the topmost floor contains exhibits related to state resources.

St. Sophia Cathedral

This is the largest temple in the Far East. It was founded in 1907. The temple was built of wood to raise the Russian spirit. A few years later, however, it was clad in brick, and ten years later it was restored and made bigger.

In 1932, during the occupation of the city, the church fell into disrepair and was used as a warehouse.

In 1996 it was recognized as state heritage, and fundraising for the restoration of St. Sophia Cathedral begins. After that it was opened as a museum.

Today St. Sophia Cathedral is a majestic building in the Russian style. It contains icons of famous saints and a statue of Jesus Christ.

Jilsa Temple

The temple was built in 1924. Since its inception, Jilsa became a sacred place for Buddhists. It functions to this day, preserving all the Buddhist traditions and canons.

Every year pilgrims and tourists from all over the world come to the city to celebrate the Buddha’s birthday. There is a religious souvenir store near Jilesa.

Holy Virgin Protection Temple

It is the only Russian temple in Harbin working in our time. It did not even close during the exodus of the population.

Nowadays the temple is more for tourists than pilgrims, as services there do not follow the standard canons.

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St. Nicholas Cathedral

The church was built in 1897. It functioned until 1966, when it was not destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. After some time the cathedral was restored and made one of the tourist stops.

Here we are introduced to the most interesting sights in the city of Harbin. In fact, there are a lot of beautiful and rich in history places in the city, and you can describe them for quite a long time.

But what are the words worth, when you can come to the amazing city of Harbin and see everything for yourself. And most importantly, you won’t feel like a guest.

Russian China: Harbin’s main attractions

For a long time the capital of the northernmost Chinese province, Harbin was essentially an abandoned, sleepy backwater. But the city flourished in the late 19th century after the construction of the East China Railway. Today it is one of the most beautiful cities in China, which annually attracts tens of thousands of tourists, especially during the International Ice Festival. Let’s also go to this magnificent city and take a look at the sights of Harbin.

Harbin Airport

harbin taiping international airport

Harbin Taiping International Airport is a great connection between Harbin and the rest of the world.

Built in 1979, the first terminal began serving domestic and international flights. At the end of the 90s the airport was significantly expanded and after the reconstruction it has acquired an ultramodern look.

Surprised not only by its beauty, but also by the capabilities of the air harbor, capable of serving up to 12 million passengers a year.

And about other no less beautiful airports of the world, most-beauty.ru has prepared an excellent article.

Central Station

Harbin railway station

From the airport let’s go to the railway gate of Harbin, the majestic building of the railway station, which dates back to 1899.

In 1903, the station received the status of Harbin Railway Station and with the development of the economy, the station became one of the largest transport hubs in China. The building of the railway station was repeatedly rebuilt.

Today, the huge, comfortable station receives 190 trains a day, and passengers can feel right at home in the waiting rooms, which have everything for a great time.

Harbin’s Old Quarter

Old Quarter

To feel the spirit of this city, you need to go to the old Harbin, and walk through the streets of the old quarter. Most of the buildings were built by Russian craftsmen back in the 19th century and in some places you can feel that this is a Russian town.

Old Quarter

Here is a harmonious combination of different architectural styles, from ornate baroque to the majestic Byzantine style. The main characteristic of the Old Quarter is its unique structure, which has been preserved by many generations of Harbin citizens.

Old Quarter

Its streets overlook the Sungari River embankment, the embankment of which is another unique attraction. This street gets the most rave reviews from tourists, you can check for yourself.

Sungari River Embankment


The beautiful embankment has long been a reflection of the modern life of the city, where the historical past and modernity are harmoniously combined.

Not far from the embankment across the river there is a railway bridge, which in its time was the largest on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Here was a monument about the flood of 1957, and next door gives a cool beautiful backlit fountain.

The city has a number of hotels overlooking the river, offering stunning views of the Sungari River and its embankment.

Zhongyong Dojo


The main street of the city stretches from Yangwei Zi Street to Stalin Park, a veritable “Arbat” in Harbin. This name was established in the 1920s, when Manchuria became the place of the white emigration of Russian officers.

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The pedestrian street is rich in numerous souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants that offer Japanese, European and Chinese cuisine. It’s a pleasure to walk along it among the beautiful buildings, but in winter you can take a horse or dog sled ride on the Zhongen Dojo.

The so-called white Harbin has become an important part of the city’s history. Arbat in Harbin has become the main attraction and the most colorful and beautiful part of the Chinese city.

Stalin Park.

Stalin Park

The city is especially beautiful in summer when the city is literally bursting with greenery, and Harbin’s parks invite you to stroll through their shady alleys. The Stalin Park, which stretches along the waterfront, is especially beautiful.

During the construction of the railroad, warehouses were located here, and then it was decided to create a park. After Joseph Stalin’s death, the park, which was simply called “Naberezhnaya”, was renamed in honor of the leader of the Soviet state.

Today, the park has become one of the favorite vacation spots for both locals and many tourists, especially for those who come to Harbin with children.

Sun Island

Sunny Island

The park spreads its alleys, paths and unique architectural compositions on a small island of the Sungari River. You can take a ferry to the amazing place, as well as use the services of gondoliers.

The park is especially beautiful in March, when the air is filled with spring freshness and everything is in bloom. In winter, the island becomes a platform for the festival of ice figures.

There is a small zoo on the territory, which is home to animals that are not found in the natural conditions in this part of the world.

Window to Europe and Asia Park

Window to Europe and Asia Park

The unique park with such an original name is also worth mentioning, because Harbin has really become a fusion of two cultures, two ways of life.

In this amazing place, every visitor can take a trip around the world, and for a short period of time visit different corners of our planet.

There is also the majestic Sphinx, and the strict walls of the Moscow Kremlin, as well as many sights of other countries of the immense world.

Safari Park for Tigers

Safari Park

A unique reserve, spread over an area of 114 square meters, offers everyone to plunge into the wild world of Amur tigers. Of course, it is not for the faint-hearted, but it is worth it.

A bus, which is covered with an iron lattice to protect the passengers, ply through the park. In the park, in a specially created natural environment, live tigers, and at any moment they are near the bus.

Here you can also buy meat and feed the graceful majestic predators.

Unit 731 Museum

Unit 731

To tell the story of Harbin it would take a separate article, but the Unit 731 Museum is a must.

The tragic pages of the history of the Japanese occupation are on display in the museum. Black and white photographs and items tell of the terrible experiments that were conducted here on people during World War II.

It was here that the Japanese began conducting biological warfare research in the late 1930s, and the resulting preparations were tested on humans.

Harbin Opera House

Harbin Opera House

Looking at the architecture and exterior design of this building, it is hard to imagine that an opera house is housed within its walls. The building in the form of a huge octopus, built in 2015 according to the design of the firm MAD, has become a real decoration of the Chinese city.

World opera stars perform in the concert hall, as well as the most prestigious international opera competitions and song festivals.

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The building is built directly beside the water, creating a magnificent architectural and natural ensemble.

Northeastern University of Forestry

Northeast Forestry University

Harbin today is not only a cultural and economic center but also a big educational center of northeast China. The universities in Harbin are famous for their high level of education and quality of teaching.

The monumental building of the University of Forestry, founded in Harbin in 1952, towers over the city as a monument of architecture of the twentieth century. Today it is the largest university of its kind in the world.

The university itself sprawls over 136 hectares and is a unique campus, where in addition to buildings there are also experimental sites.

Dragon TV Tower

Dragon Tower

One of the main attractions of the city is the tower with the beautiful name of Dragon. It soared up to a height of 336 meters. Its main function is to provide TV and radio broadcasting, but it is also popular as a tourist attraction.

Its observation decks offer magnificent views of the city, all districts of Harbin and its surroundings. In addition, you can have a tasty meal in the tower restaurant and drink a wonderful coffee in the cafe. There is also an extreme swing.

On the first floors is an exhibition of wax figures of Chinese emperors and famous people of China. There are also constantly exhibitions of Chinese art and national traditions.

“Da Dingshan.”

Da Dingshan

At 60 kilometers from Harbin there is a unique water park built on hot springs that offers its visitors a variety of services and entertainment.

In addition to numerous swimming pools and entertainment areas, Da Dingshan has massage rooms, spas, and saunas where one can perfectly recover and even undergo treatment.

The water park has a whole network of restaurants and children’s cafes, as well as souvenir and food stores.

Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival

ice and snow festival

Parks and squares, unique markets, shopping centers, clubs and museums can be found anywhere in the world, but what really makes Harbin stand out among the world cities is the annual ice and snow festival.

It was first held in 1963 and tourists from all over the world come to Harbin to see the unique sculptures made by artists in ice and snow.

Traditionally, it opens on January 5 and for a month you can admire the ice masterpieces, go skiing, try exotic oriental cuisine, and even swim in the ice-hole of the Sungari River.

Harbin Metro


Like any other modern metropolis, Harbin has an extensive public transportation network. And like any large city, and its population exceeds 10 million, it has its own subway.

Harbin’s subway is fairly young, having been launched in 2013. And although the stations are not replete with luxury, nevertheless, in terms of architectural and artistic composition, they are of very high quality. This applies both to the entrance hubs and to the waiting rooms.


So our journey through this wonderful and beautiful city is over, and as we can see there is a lot to see in Harbin.

It should be mentioned that there are many places of worship in the capital of Heilongjiang Province, but our website will tell you about temples in a separate article.

And here to understand and learn more about life of Russians in Harbin, be sure to read the book by George Melikhov “White Harbin”.

The editorial staff of most-beauty.ru asks you to write in comments what other attractions in Harbin you would add to this list. We will be grateful if you also share your impressions from visiting this city.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was originally published in April 2018.

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