Harbin: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

—  Sub-provincial city  —
From top: Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, Hongbo Square and surrounding, Harbin Xinhua Bookstore, Saint Sofia Church, Harbin Mosque, and the Ji Le Temple


Nickname(s): Ice City, Oriental Paris, Oriental Moscow
Harbin (red) in Heilongjiang province (orange) and China
Coordinates: 45°45′N 126°38′E / 45.75°N 126.633°E / 45.75; 126.633
Country China
Province Heilongjiang
County-level divisions 19
 - Secretary Municipal Committee of the CPC Gai Ruyin 盖如垠 (since August , 2009)
 - Mayor Zhang Xiaolian 张效廉 (since February, 2007)
 - Sub-provincial city 53,068 km2 (20,489.7 sq mi)
 - Urban 7,086 km2 (2,735.9 sq mi)
Elevation 150 m (488 ft)
 - Sub-provincial city 9,873,743
 Density 186.1/km2 (481.9/sq mi)
 Urban 4,754,753
 - Urban Density 671/km2 (1,737.9/sq mi)
Time zone China Standard Time (UTC+8)
Postal code 150000
Area code(s) 451
License plate prefixes 黑A
GDP (2008) CNY 286.82 billion
 - per capita CNY 29,012
Website www.harbin.gov.cn

Harbin (simplified Chinese: 哈尔滨traditional Chinese: 哈爾濱pinyin: HāěrbīnWade-Giles: Ha-erh-pin; Russian About this sound Харби́н ), is a sub-provincial city and the capital of the Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China. It lies on the southern bank of the Songhua River. Harbin is the tenth largest city in China, serving as a key political, economic, scientific, cultural and communications hub in Northeastern China.

Harbin is originally a Manchu word meaning "a place for drying fishing nets". Harbin bears the nicknames "The Pearl on the swan's neck" because the shape of Heilongjiang resembles a swan, and "Ice City" for its long and cold winter. This city is most famous for its beautiful display of ice sculptures in winter and is known as China’s gateway to trade with Russia. In the 1920s, Harbin was considered China's fashion capital as new designs from Paris and Moscow reached there first before arriving in Shanghai.[1] Harbin is also a potential candidate for the 2022 Winter Olympics.



Human settlement in the Harbin area dates from at least 2200 BC (late Stone Age). It was formerly called Pokai.

The modern city of Harbin originated in 1898 from a small village, with the start of the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway (KVZhD) by Russia, an extension of the Trans-Siberian Railway, shortcutting substantially the distance to Vladivostok and creating a link to the port city of Dalny (Dalian) and the Russian Naval Base Port Arthur.

Following the Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), Russia's influence declined, and several thousand nationals from 33 countries including the United States, Germany, and France moved to Harbin. Sixteen countries established consulates and set up several hundred industrial, commercial and banking companies in Harbin. The Chinese also established their own businesses in brewing, food and the textile industry. Harbin had established its status as the center of northeastern China and as an international metropolis.

In December 1918, during the Russian Civil War, defeated Russian White Guards and refugees retreated to the city: it then became a major centre of White Russian émigrés. The city became the largest Russian enclave outside Russia. The Jewish community was formed by Russian Jews and included a group of German Jews, who fled Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. Under the pro bono efforts by Japanese government officials, they later emigrated to several cities in western Japan, notably Kobe, to ensure their safety and prosperity and established the largest synagogue in Japan. The Russians established the Russian school system and published Russian language newspapers and journals.

With the establishment of Manchukuo, Japanese troops occupied Harbin on 4 February 1932. In 1935 the Soviet Union sold the railway (KVZhD) to the Japanese, which resulted in the first exodus of Russian emigres from Manchuria and Harbin in particular. The bulk of the departing Russians went back to the Soviet Union, while a substantial number moved south to Shanghai or emigrated to the United States and Australia.

The Soviet Army took the city on 20 August 1945 and Harbin never came under the control of the Kuomintang, whose troops stopped 60 km short of the city. The city's administration was transferred by the departing Soviet Army to the Chinese People's Liberation Army in April 1946.

During the short occupation of Harbin by the Soviet Army (August 1945 to April 1946), thousands of Russian emigres who fled communism after the revolution, were forcibly moved to the Soviet Union. The rest of the European community (Russians, Germans, Poles, Greeks etc.) emigrated during the years 1950-54 to Australia, Brazil and the USA, or were repatriated to their home countries. By 1988 the original Russian community numbered just thirty, all of them elderly.

The eight Harbin counties originally formed part of Songhuajiang Prefecture (松花江地区), and became incorporated into Harbin on 11 August 1999, making Harbin a sub-provincial city.

Harbin once housed one of the largest Jewish communities in the far-east. it reached its peak in the mid 1920's when 20,000 European Jews lived in the city. Former Prime-minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert's parents were born in the city and he returned with an Israeli trade delegation in 2004 to visit the grave of his grandfather which is in the city.

A benzene plant situated upstream in the city of Jilin along the Songhua river exploded on 13 November 2005. Benzene levels reached more than 100 times normal levels, which led authorities in Harbin to shut off the water supply, and some residents left the city while others rushed to buy bottled water. After a few days the water supply was restored. The Harbin government originally declared to the public that the water supply was temporarily off while the supply system was checked. They also denied reports of a chemical leak, claiming that it was "just a rumour."[2]


The sub-provincial city of Harbin has direct jurisdiction over 8 districts (区 qu), 3 county-level cities (市 shi) and 7 Counties (县 xian). On August 15, 2006, Dongli District (动力区) merged with Xiangfang District (香坊区).

Harbin mcp.png
# Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Population (2003 est.) Area (km²) Density (/km²)
1 Daoli District 道里区 Dàolǐ Qū 670,000 479 1,399
2 Nangang District 南岗区 Nángǎng Qū 990,000 183 5,410
3 Daowai District 道外区 Dàowài Qū 610,000 257 2,374
4 Xiangfang District 香坊区 Xiāngfáng Qū 710,000 340 2,088
5 Pingfang District 平房区 Píngfáng Qū 160,000 94 1,702
6 Songbei District 松北区 Sōngběi Qū 190,000 736 258
7 Hulan District 呼兰区 Hūlán Qū 620,000 2,186 284
8 Acheng District 阿城区 Àchéng Qū 650,000 2,770 235
9 Shuangcheng City 双城市 Shuāngchéng Shì 810,000 3,112 260
10 Shangzhi City 尚志市 Shàngzhì Shì 620,000 8,895 70
11 Wuchang City 五常市 Wǔcháng Shì 970,000 7,512 129
12 Yilan County 依兰县 Yīlán Xiàn 390,000 4,672 83
13 Fangzheng County 方正县 Fāngzhèng Xiàn 230,000 2,993 77
14 Bin County 宾县 Bīn Xiàn 620,000 3,846 161
15 Bayan County 巴彦县 Bāyàn Xiàn 700,000 3,138 223
16 Mulan County 木兰县 Mùlán Xiàn 270,000 3,602 75
17 Tonghe County 通河县 Tōnghé Xiàn 230,000 5,755 40
18 Yanshou County 延寿县 Yánshòu Xiàn 270,000 3,226 84


Under the Koppen climate classification, Harbin features a humid continental climate with hot, humid summers and very cold winters. Harbin's nickname of the "Ice City" is well-earned. Its winters are dry and brutally cold, with the average monthly high in January only reaching -13°C (9°F). Harbin's winters are colder than other humid continental climate cities with notoriously cold winters such as Moscow, St. Petersburg and Montreal. However unlike these cities, Harbin sees little in the way of precipitation during the winter. Harbin's summer is warm, with an average monthly high temperature in July of 28°C (82°F). July is also Harbin's wettest month with an average of roughly 160 mm (6.3 in) of precipitation falling during that month.

Climate data for Harbin, China
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) -13.0
Daily mean °C (°F) -18.8
Average low °C (°F) -24.6
Precipitation mm (inches) 3
Avg. rainy days 7 6 6 6 10 13 15 13 10 7 6 7 106
Source: Illinois State Climatologist Data[3] July 2007


While Dalian is considered the region’s shipping center and Shenyang its financial hub, Harbin is striving hard towards becoming the key trade and shopping center of the region. The city is located in one of the fastest growing regions in the world and can boast a number of advantages such as an abundance of natural resources, good transport system and plenty of human resources.[4]

In 2008, Harbin's GDP reached RMB286.82 billion, an increase of 13.2 percent over the previous year. Tertiary industry output remained the largest component of GDP reaching RMB140.04 billion, an increase of 13.9 percent from the previous year. The total value for imports and exports by the end of 2008 was US$3.64 billion.[5]

The soil in Harbin, called “black earth” is one the most nutrient rich in all of China, making it valuable for cultivating food and textile-related crops. As a result, Harbin is China’s base for the production of commodity grain and an ideal location for setting up agricultural businesses. Harbin also has industries such as light industry, textile, medicine, foodstuff, automobile, metallurgy, electronics, building materials, and chemicals which help to form a fairly comprehensive industrial system. Harbin Power Equipment Group Company and Northeast Light Alloy Processing Factory are two key enterprises. Harbin is also known as the capital of “power manufacturing”; hydro and thermal power equipment manufactured here makes up one-third of the total installed capacity in China.[6]

Foreign investors seem upbeat about the city. The Harbin Trade and Economic fair, has been held for 17 years annually, cumulatively attracting more than 1.3 million exhibitors and visitors and resulting in contracts of over US$90 billion. Japanese, Russian and Eastern European nations are increasingly looking to North China and Harbin for investment. Foreign direct investment remains low, but is growing as a result of government efforts, with utilized FDI totaling US$570 million, up 28.1 percent, in 2008.[7]

Harbin is also home to Harbin Institute of Technology, one of China’s better known universities. Founded in 1920, the university has developed into an important research university focusing on engineering, with supporting faculties in the sciences, management, humanities and social sciences. The institute's faculty and students contributed to and invented China's first analog computer, the first intelligent chess computer, and the first arc-welding robot. Last year, research funding from the government, industry, and business sectors surpassed RMB1.13 billion, the second highest of any university in China.[8]

Harbin Skyline 2008.png

Economic Development Zones and Ports[9]

  • Harbin Development Zone
    • Harbin Economic and Technological Development Zone
    • Harbin High and New Technological Development Zone
    • Harbin Port
  • Daqing High-tech Industrial Development Zone


Harbin is one of the largest railway hubs in Northeast China. Five major railways (Jingha, Binsui, Binzhou, Binbei and Labin) meet here. Currently 138 trains terminate in or pass through Harbin daily, with trains available to Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Jinan and many other major cities in China.[10]

The Harbin Taiping International Airport is the second largest international airport in Northeast China. There are flights to/from more than 30 large and medium-sized cities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong.[11]

There are more than 1,900 rivers in Heilongjiang, including the Songhua River, Heilongjiang River and Wusulijiang River, creating a convenient system of waterway transportation. Harbin harbor is one of eight inland ports in China and the largest of its type in Northeast China. Available from mid-April until the beginning of November, passenger ships sail from Harbin up the Songhua River to Qiqihar, or downstream to Jiamusi, Tongjiang, and Khabarovsk in Russia.[12]


Saint Sofia Church

Called the Oriental St. Petersburg, Harbin is considered one of China's most beautiful cities. The city is well-known for its unique, Russian and European-influenced architecture.

Zhong Yang Street (Central Street, also known as Kitaiskaya St.), one of the main business streets in Harbin, is a perfect remnant of the bustling international business activities at the turn of the 20th century. The 1.4-km long street is a veritable museum of European architectural styles: Baroque and Byzantine façades, little Russian bakeries, French fashion houses, American eateries, and Japanese restaurants.

The Russian Orthodox church, Saint Sophia Cathedral, is also located in this central district of Daoli. St. Sophia took nine years to build and was completed in 1932. It has now been made into a museum as a showcase of the multi-cultural architecture of Harbin.

Many citizens believe that the Orthodox church damaged the local feng shui, so they donated money to build a Chinese monastery in 1921, the Ji Le Temple. There were more than 15 Russian Orthodox churches and two cemeteries in Harbin until 1949. Mao's Communist Revolution, and the subsequent Cultural Revolution, saw many of them destroyed. Now, about 10 churches remain, while services are held only in one (Church of the Intercession in Harbin).


The Harbin local culture is based on Han culture, combined with Manchu culture and Russian culture. This combination of cultures influences the local architecture style, food, customs. Harbin is famous for its standard Mandarin pronunciation. It's a very good place to study Mandarin. As the saying goes 'If you want to study Chinese language, come to China. If you want to study Mandarin, come to Beijing. If you want to study standard Mandarin, come to Harbin.'


Russian influence

Harbin today is still very much influenced by its Russian past. A city once under Russian rule, it is now a center of trade with that country.

The influence of Russia came with the construction of the China Far East Railway, an extension of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and Harbin, known formerly as a fishing village began to prosper as the largest commercial, economic center of North Eastern Asia.

Tsarist Russia encouraged Russian settlement in their important Trans-Siberian-Railway outpost by waiving the then 25 year long military service. For Jews who settled there, the restrictions applying in Russia were also waived.

The local cuisine in Harbin is also Russian-influenced. Harbin's bakeries are famous for their bread (lie-ba in local dialect, derived from the Russian word khleb for "bread"). Harbin's sausages (qiu-lin hong-chang) are another notable product, in that they tend to be of a much more European flavour than other Chinese sausages.

Winter culture

Harbin is located in Northeast China under the direct influence of the cold winter wind from Siberia. The average temperature in summer is 21.2 degrees Celsius, −16.8 degrees Celsius in winter.

The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival has been held since 1985. Although the official start date is January 5 each year, in practice, many of the sculptures can be seen before. While there are ice sculptures throughout the city, there are two main exhibition areas: Enormous snow sculptures at Sun Island (a recreational area on the opposite side of the Songhua River from the city) and the separate "Ice and Snow World" that operates each night. Ice and Snow World features illuminated full size buildings made from blocks of ice. Winter activities in the festival include Yabuli Alpine Skiing, winter-swimming in Songhua River, and the ice-lantern exhibition in Zhaolin Garden. Snow carving and ice and snow recreations are world famous.

The "Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival" is one of the world's four largest ice and snow festivals, along with Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway's Ski Festival.

Every November, the city of Harbin sends teams of ice artisans to the United States to promote their unique art form. It takes more than 100 artisans to create ICE!, the annual display of indoor Christmas-themed ice carvings in Nashville, Tennessee; Kissimmee, Florida; and Grapevine, Texas.

Winter sports

The third Winter Asian Games took place in Harbin in 1996. The city of Harbin bid for hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Alpine skiing events would have taken place in the Yabuli ski resort. In the frame of this campaign to assert its role on the world scene, Harbin was the host city of the 2009 Winter Universiade. Harbin planned to spend US$ 1.5 billion in construction and renovation of its sport infrastructure for this Universiade. Harbin also bid for the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics, but was passed over so still has its sights on the Olympics, perhaps in 2022.

Harbin has produced many world-class winter sports champions, including short track star and six-time Olympic medalist Wang Meng and 2006 pairs figure skating silver medalists Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao.[13]

'Ice and Snow World' in Harbin

Harbin Summer Music Concert

Harbin Summer Music Concert ('Concert' for short) is a national concert festival, which is held on August 6 every two years for a period of 10~11 days. During the concert, multiple evenings, concert, race and activities are held. The artists come from all over the world. The 'Harbin Summer Music Month', which was then renamed as 'Harbin Summer Music Concert', was held in August 1958. The first formal Concert was held on August 5, 1961 in Harbin Youth Palace, and kept on every year until 1966 when the Cultural Revolution started in China. In 1979, the Concert was recovered and from 1994, it has been held every two years. In 2008, the 29th Harbin Summer Music Concert was held on August 6.


The Heilongjiang Television and Harbin Economy Radio both serve as the media outlets of this region.


Hua Yuan Street (Garden Street) in the Nangang district


Harbin Railway-Bureau is the first one in Chinese History, of which the railway density is the highest in China. Harbin Railway Station is one of the three modernized railway-networks.


Harbin has an advanced system of highways. Food and other products are shipped on these roads. The highways in Harbin have a big impact on the way of life these people have, despite most are tolled.

There are seven important highways which pass through or terminate in Harbin, including the Beijing-Harbin, the Heihe-Dalian, the Harbin–Tong River, Changchun-Harbin, and the Manzhouli–Suifen River highways.[14]


Harbin Taiping International Airport serves Harbin and is an important transportation hub for northeastern China. It is the largest northernmost airport of China and its terminal building (along with Shenyang-Taoxian Airport) is currently one of the largest in northeastern China. The technical level of flight district is 4E, which allows all kinds of large and medium civil aircraft. There are flights to over thirty cities including Beijing, Tianjing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Qingdao, Wenzhou, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Dalian, Xi'an and Hong Kong. In addition there are also scheduled flights between Harbin and Hong Kong, Russia and South Korea.


Construction of Harbin Subway started on 5 December 2006. The total investment for the first phase is RMB5.89 billion. Twenty stations will be set on this 14.4 km long line starting from Harbin East Railway Station to the 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University in the west of the city. A subway depot, a command center and two transformer substations will be built along the line. Most of the subway's route follow the air defence evacuation Tunnel left from the World War II.

Ports and Waterways

There are more than 1,900 rivers in Heilongjiang, including the Songhua River, Heilongjiang River and Wusulijiang River, creating a convenient system of waterway transportation. Harbin harbor is one of eight inland ports in China and the largest of its type in Northeast China. Available from mid-April until the beginning of November, passenger ships sail from Harbin up the Songhua River to Qiqihar or downstream to Jiamusi, Tongjiang and Khabarovsk (Russia).[14]

Colleges and universities

Harbin Xinhua Bookstore

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Harbin is twinned with:



See also


  • Thomas Lahusen. Harbin and Manchuria: Place, Space, and Identity. November 15, 2001. ISBN 0-8223-6475-1.

Further reading

  • Meyer, Mike, "Manchuria Under Ice", Departures Magazine, Nov/Dec 2006, 292–297.
  • Nikos Kavvadias, a popular Greek poet born in Harbin by Greek parents from Kefalonia, Greece

External links

Coordinates: 45°45′N 126°38′E / 45.75°N 126.633°E / 45.75; 126.633

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Harbin (哈尔滨; Hā'ěrbīn) [1] is the capital of Heilongjiang Province in north east China.


Harbin is China's northernmost major city, with a population in excess of 10 million, and over 4 million in the city center alone. Historically, the city has had a lot of Russian influence, in particular after the Russian Civil War of 1918, when White (Monarchist) refugees escaped the newly formed Soviet Union. The influence remains clearly visible in the building styles and foods.

Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival
Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival

The city was founded in 1897 as a camp for Russian engineers surveying the Trans-Siberian Railway. Labor demands brought in a collection of outcasts from across Russia, Poland and even from within Manchuria. The city eventually was captured by the Japanese during World War II and later captured by the Chinese in 1946. Once nothing more than a Russian-built outpost of the railway, Harbin has managed to become a major player in her own right as well as capital of Heilongjiang Province.

Recent History

Northeastern China was originally built up as an industrial center using pre-existing Soviet and Japanese factories. By the 1980s these outdated and inefficient factories could not keep up. To further complicate matters, starting in the early 1990s, large portions of China's state owned enterprise workers were laid off. Thus, like many other cities in this region, contemporary Harbin is struggling with an aging work force and unemployment. Private enterprise is mostly centered in the service sector, retail, restaurants, etc. with most large scale enterprises still state owned. However, the province has thousands of state-owned enterprises up for sale, and many have been purchased since the late 1990s. Numerous universities in Harbin also play a vital role in the economy in education, research and through their subsidiary companies.

In 2005 there was a major pollution spill on the Songhua river.

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Nightly lows (°C) -11 -21
Precipitation (cm) 4 5 10 22 42 89 156 117 61 28 10 5
Winter morning on the streets of Harbin
Winter morning on the streets of Harbin

Harbin is infamous for its very cold winters — it is at the same latitude as Montreal, and winter temperatures as low as -38°C (-36°F) have been recorded. Bring more clothes than you will think you will need so that you can layer. Average daytime summer temperatures are in the mid 20s(°C) with a few weeks reaching low 30s, while the coldest part of winter averages a chilly -17°C (°1F).

The winter can become dreary if you are a long-term resident, as the entire city uses coal for heat the air quality rapidly decreases during these months.

Harbin can be a great place to visit in the summer. The weather is cool and it seems to be perpetually breezy, and most of Harbin's streets are lined with trees. Because the city is so cold all winter, life almost explodes and people crowd the streets until late at night eating kabobs, playing poker, and drinking Hapi (Harbin Beer). This is a great escape from the heat of Beijing. A trip up to the border regions this time of year would be nice as well.

Get in

By plane

Harbin Airport (IATA: HRB) has services to more than a dozen domestic destinations in addition to Hong Kong.

International services are available to Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, Russia, Niigata, Japan, Seoul, South Korea and Los Angeles, USA.

The airport is not located in the city center and is about a 45 minute drive outside of the city in the middle of soybean fields. If you are flying out of Harbin most ticket agencies can arrange transportation to be included in the cost of the ticket. Another option is to take a taxi, which costs around ¥100-120. Always negotiate this price before the ride, though. Drivers will make their meters read more for the ride otherwise or try to get you to pay for the highway ticket in addition.

The airport is small, but there is a small restaurant and snack bar selling local delicacies, Chinese and western food, and a nearby hotel if you happen to get stranded.

Train Station in Harbin
Train Station in Harbin

Taking a train to Harbin is very easy and most are overnight trains, including a new rapid service from Beijing. Different ways to travel include chair, "hard berth", or "soft berth". Hard berth compartments generally have six sleeping bunks which open onto the main passageway going through the car; soft berth usually has a four person compartment, softer mattresses, and a compartment door you can close. Hard berth is roughly 55% of the price of a soft berth ticket. The bottom bunk is where all your neighbors will want to sit and eat with you when you are not sleeping.

The main station is located at Tielu Jie, between Nangang and Daoli districts. When leaving the train, make sure to keep your ticket stub as you need it to exit the train station.

When you get out of the train station there are literally dozens of taxis waiting. Make sure to take a cab that is in the official waiting line and have them turn their meter on. In some cases these drivers have been waiting all day here and want to get as much money as they can.

There are several hotels right around the square in front of the station and most are fairly cheap. There is also a KFC and a Russian restaurant (open 24 hours) called Breznev that has decent food.

  • Baotou - 29 hours; ¥113-390
  • Beijing - 8-18 hours; ¥78-465
  • Changchun - 2-4 hours; ¥20-91
  • Changsha - 29 hours; ¥300-833
  • Daqing
  • Dalian - 10 hours; ¥109-327
  • Guangzhou - 37½ hours; ¥355-976
  • Hailaer
  • Hangzhou - 36 hours; ¥286-792
  • Hefei - 22½ hours; ¥245-676
  • Hegang
  • Hohhot - 27 hours; ¥102-341
  • Jiamusi
  • Jilin - 6½ hours; ¥20-163
  • Jinan
  • Jixi
  • Manzhouli
  • Mudanjiang
  • Nanchang
  • Nanjing
  • Qiqihaer
  • Shanghai
  • Shenyang
  • Tianjin
  • Wuhan
  • Xian
  • Yichun

Connections to Harbin include:

By car

Harbin is connected to the rest of China via the China Highway 102 via Changchun. Harbin is also connected via road to Inner Mongolia, Russia, and Jilin.

By bus

The main long-distance bus station (Changtu Keyun Zhan) is located across the square from main train station.

The majority of cities in Heilongjiang can be reached via bus.

  • Beijing - takes about 13 hours
  • Mudanjiang - takes about 4 hours
  • Qiqihar - takes about 5 hours
  • Changchun - takes about 4 hours
  • Jilin - takes about 6 hours
  • Dalian - takes about 10 hrs
  • Shenyang - takes about 8 hours
  • Wudailanchi - takes about 6 hours
  • Yanji - takes about 9 hrs
Taxis in Harbin
Taxis in Harbin

Taxis are inexpensive and convenient. However, always ask them to run the meter (qing3 da3 biao3) instead of attempting to negotiate a price in order avoid possible conflicts.

Taxi drivers in Harbin are known to be reckless — running red lights, driving into oncoming traffic, etc. — so buckle up!

If you plan to live in Harbin for a while, it's recommended that you figure out the basic bus routes around your home. Note that during the winter months the buses stop running earlier. Hawkers on the street will sell a map of greater Harbin including bus routes for about ¥5.

Even new buildings are in Russian style
Even new buildings are in Russian style
Old Quarter
Old Quarter
Harbin's main walking street at night
Harbin's main walking street at night
Harbin's Famous St. Sophia Church
Harbin's Famous St. Sophia Church
Tiger Park
Tiger Park
Sun Island
Sun Island
Guogeli Dajie at night
Guogeli Dajie at night
  • Russian Buildings. Harbin's old quarter which covers a wide area of the city near the Songhua River is still today mostly made up of buildings that were constructed by the Russians at the turn of the 19th century. Most of them are built in baroque or byzantine style with spires and cupolas and interesting shades of yellow, white, green, or red. While St. Sophia is known as the main architectural attraction to the city, areas of the city such as Harbin's old quarter are made up of buildings that have been left untouched since the Russians left. While most of these streets are fairly decrepit and in need of repair, at least the area has been free from the wrecking ball like many other historical districts in China. Only due to the fact that Harbin has yet to attract the world's investment.  edit
  • Zhongyang Dajie (中央大街; Zhōngyāngdàjiē; lit. Central Avenue), (Runs from Jingwei Jie to Stalin Park at the river). Pretty much closes by 10PM (weekend nights included). This cobblestone lined street is a pedestrian only street that could serve as a perfect remnant of the bustling international business activities at the turn of the 20th century. The 1.4-km long street is a veritable museum of European architectural styles, including Baroque and Byzantine facades, Jewish architectural wonders, a Russian resteraunt, French fashion houses (Fake Chinese Brands), American snack food outlets (Mcdonalds and KFC and a Chinese owned "American Bar"), and a Japanese restaurant. In winter, one can walk out onto the ice or take a dog sledge or horse sledge ride. It is the prettiest site in Harbin as far as the city itself is concerned, however, if you go mid-day during the weekend be prepared to push through the crowds.  edit
  • Flood Control Monument (防洪胜利纪念塔; Fánghóngshènglìjìniàntǎ), (It is at the riverside end of the Zhongyang Dajie). Built to commemorate the several floods of the Songhua River.  edit
  • Stalin Park (斯大林公园; Sīdàlíngōngyuán), (Runs parallel to the Songhua River). Long tree covered walkway that stretches the city-side banks of the Songhua river, a really nice and pleasant walk.  edit
  • St. Sophia Cathedral (圣索非亚教堂; Shèngsuǒfēiyàjiàotáng), (In Daoli District on the corner of Zhaolin Street and Toulong Street). One of the few still standing Orthodox churches in the city. It is now converted into a Harbin Museum of Architecture. Inside there are exhibitions of many photographs from old times. Definitely worth going into, however, if you are used to European Churches do not expect the quality.  edit
  • Harbin Jewish New Synagogue (哈尔滨犹太新会堂; Hāěrbīnyóutàixīnhuìtáng), 162 Jing Wei Jie. Has been restored and contains an impressive collection detailing the history of Jews in Harbin. There were 20,000 at one point and the synagogue is well worth a visit. Further up Tong Jiang Jie is the old synagogue that is now a hotel and cafe, with the old Jewish school next door -both worth a detour to look at from the outside. ¥25.  edit
  • Unit 731 Museum (侵华日军地731部队遗址; Qīnhuárìjūnde 731 Bùduìyízhǐ), (It is about an hourlong bus ride from the city center (Bus 338 or the slower 343 from near the train station on Tielu Jie, get off at 双拥路 and walk around the corner to the right)). Closes at 4PM (last entry is at 3PM), is closed from 11AM-1PM for lunch and the museum is completely closed on Mondays. A grim reminder of what happened during the Japanese occupation to over 2,000 prisoners of war. The museum, located out in the suburbs, tells the story of these individuals although its displays are limited.  edit
  • Siberian Tiger Preserve (老虎公园; Lǎohǔgōngyuán), (Just a ¥40 cab ride from the city center (don ot have them wait for you, you will always be able to find a ride home)). This is without a doubt Harbin's "must see". Not for the faint hearted or obsessive animal lovers. There are literally hundreds of tigers in multiple huge pens. For just ¥70 you can ride in an open bus with metal caging around it. The ride is about an hour long and while on the bus you can purchase strips of meat (¥10) to hand feed the tigers. Live chickens (¥40), pheasants (¥100), ducks (¥100), goats (¥600) and even cows (somewhere around USD200).  edit
  • Zhaolin Park (兆麟公园; Zhàolíngōngyuán), Youyi Lu and Shangzhi Jie. During the winter this park houses ice sculptures for the festivals, but during the off season, it is a pleasant stroll as well  edit
  • Dragon TV Tower (龙塔; Lóngtǎ). Tallest steel structure in northeastern Asia. Only built for the Chinese need of having something as the biggest and the best. Somewhere along the way they forgot to add any pleasant looking qualities to it. There is a revolving restaurant on top and views of the city. You can walk outside at the top and even strap on a harness for a thrill.  edit
  • Old Quarter. A section of the city just west of Zhongyang Dajie is still dominated by Russian buildings built around the turn of the century. Not well maintained but an interesting walk and you can maybe find Russian antiques in some of the thrift stores.  edit
  • Grape Kingdom (葡萄王国; Pútaowángguó), (Near the Tiger Park). A live operating "organic farm" that has expansive grape and corn fields. In the fall you can enter the fields and pick as many fresh grapes as you want and watch how the Chinese process corn.  edit
  • Sun Island (太阳岛; Tàiyángdǎo), (On the banks of the Songhua River and can be reached by ferry boat (¥5)). Park offering a pleasant to stroll during the warmer months and on the weekends newly married couples can be seen taking pictures. In the winter it becomes part of the snow sculpture festivities. However, as with everything in Harbin, the park itself is still very chinese with a cage full of squirrels, a petting deer area (just have to buy them some food), go carts, a pond that is just full of turtles, and newly weds sporting bright colored dresses.  edit
  • Gondola ride over Songhua River, access point is the Sun Island Park. A nice way to work your way back from Sun Island in a gondola car that takes you over the banks of the Songhua. ¥35-50.  edit
  • Temple of Heavenly Bliss (极乐寺; Jílèsì), Dongdazhi Street (东大直街; Dōngdàzhíjiē) (In the eastern part of the city). Large and active Buddhist temple.  edit
  • Heilongjiang Provincial Museum (黑龙江省博物馆; Hēilóngjiāngshěngbówùguǎn), 50 Hong Jun Jie. Built in 1922 and claims to have over 14,000 pieces of relics, but it's not well kept.  edit
  • Harbin International Snow and Ice Festivals. Yearly from January 5th until warm weather erodes the constructions (exact dates vary yearly). Be forewarned that the Snow Festival closes before sunset so arrive early while the two Ice Lantern Festivals are best after dark so arrive just before dusk. By far Harbin's biggest claim to fame are these month-long. There are two distinct festivals on display in three separate locations: The Snow and Ice Festival (冰雪大世界; Bīngxuědàshìjiè) and two versions of the Ice Lantern Festival (冰灯节; Bīngdēngjié~~~~). The former is famous for massive and beautifully carved sculptures of snow while the latter is famous for large ice buildings and statues constructed with lights inside that make them glow. The Snow Festival is on Sun Island, across the river from the main city sites. The Ice Lantern Festival operates in a city park that is centrally located (Zhaolin Park) as well as at an out-lying assembly ground along the Songhua River (not far from Sun Island). There is a separate admission fee of ¥100-150 for all three (students get in half-price).  edit
  • Sauna/bath houses (洗浴中心; Xǐyùzhōngxīn). Literally all over the city. Many local people do not shower in their own apartments but these public shower houses instead. There are several upscale ones around the city such as Shanghai Tan (上海摊; Shànghǎitān) and Jiannianhua (嘉年华; Jiāniánhuá) where you can relax in a sauna, get an hour long massage, eat at a all you can eat buffet and sleep for 24 hours in their comfy beds for around ¥40-90.  edit
  • Harbin International Beer Festival (哈尔滨国际啤酒节; Hāěrbīnguójìpíjiǔjié), [2]. Held in late August of every year. The city takes a break and honors the cities most famous export "Harbin Beer" for a week. A whole public square is cordoned off and there are stages that host music concerts, dance contests. Most of the beer drunk is the local Harbin brew, but there is a tent for international beers. In the summer of 2005 a number of the foreigners in the city assembled a "drinking team" and ended up getting in a drunken brawl with some locals and got hauled away by the police.  edit
  • Harbin Summer Music Festival (哈尔滨之夏音乐节; Hāěrbīnzhīxiàyīnyuèjié), [3]. Held every two years in July (Next will be in 2008), this festival is organized by the city and brings in famous Chinese bands for free concerts held in the city square. In 2006 for the "year of Russia" there were various Russian groups in attendance and a concert that featured over 1,000 pianists playing at once.  edit
  • WB International Movie Theatre (万达国际电影城; Wàndáguójìdiànyǐngchéng), Zhongyang Dajie Wal-mart. ¥50 plus for tickets.  edit
  • Yabuli (亚布力; Yàbùlì), (Within 2 hours of the city). Yabuli is one of the largest skiing areas in China and venue for the 1996 Asian Winter Games.  edit
  • Yangge Traditional Chinese Dance. You will notice that during the warmer months (and even sometimes in the winter) there will be legions of senior citizens out on the street doing a group dance complete with drumming and costumes. This is called niu yang ge and if you are adventurous just jump in and dance along!  edit
  • Bowling. Very popular among the Chinese in Harbin. Most of the larger hotels have a bowling alley. There is also a bowling club located behind the Sino Way hotel with 2 separate floors and pool tables as well.  edit
  • Swimming. Believe it or not, people actually swim in the Songhua during the winter, but after all the pollution spills, it's probably not even safe to swim during the summer. If you are looking for a clean pool to swim in, try the pool at the Shangri-La Hotel or Heilongjiang University.  edit
  • Golf (高尔夫球场; Gāoěrfūqiúchǎng), (Directly behind the Heilongjiang TV Station (黑龙江电视台; Hēilóngjiāngdiànshìtái), it's the giant glass building with a oversize red glass diamond). Obviously not open during the winter. Yes Harbin has a golf course in the development zone. ¥300 per round and ¥20 to use the driving range.  edit
  • Haerbin Grecism International Health Club (哈尔滨恒详国际健身俱乐部; Hāěrbīnhéngxiángguójìjiànshēnjùlèbù), 95 Hayao Road (道里区哈药路95号; Dàolǐqūhāyàolù). One of Harbin's nicest health clubs that includes a full pool, American work out equipment, sauna and hot tub, indoor track and cafe. Membership is expensive.  edit
  • Fitness Ark Health Club (美丽方舟健身俱乐部; Měilìfāngzhōujiànshēnjùlèbù), 3rd floor of Hate Mall, 118 Xidazhi Jie (南岗区西大直街118号哈特) (Near HIT). This is a great and cheap health club. A number of foreign students and teachers hang out here.  edit


For foreigners, pretty much the only employment is teaching English, where depending on your qualifications and experience, you can make anywhere from ¥2,000 to ¥10,000 a month. There are positions at both public and private schools. If you are in the city and don't already have employment check out the bulletin board at Hamama's Kofi House.

There are some foreign enterprises in the city such as Budweiser Beer, John Deere, and a large Brazilian Embraer aircraft assembly plant south of the city, but these companies rarely hire from inside China.

Harbin's most well known university, Harbin Institute of Technology
Harbin's most well known university, Harbin Institute of Technology
HIT main street during the summer
HIT main street during the summer

Harbin is the center for higher education in Northeast China, and has several leading universities, with the most famous being Harbin Institute of Technology. The universities make up a large portion of the cities economy and employ a large part of the population. Many of these schools were founded by the Russians and still retain the architectural charm of their predecessors. There are also several medical universities in the city that support the local hospitals.

Studying Chinese

Harbin is famous for its standard Mandarin pronunciation. It's a very good place to study Mandarin. As the says goes 'If you want to study Chinese language, come to China. If you want to study Mandarin, come to Beijing. If you want to study standard Mandarin, come to Harbin.' It can be a pleasant and cheap alternative to Beijing for the study of Mandarin Chinese. Most universities have lots of Korean and Russian students. There are a couple cheap western cafes and a small but lively foreign student social scene at the local expat hangouts on the weekends, such as Blues and The Box. Many schools in Harbin offer Chinese language programs:

  • Harbin Institute of Technology (哈尔滨工业大学) [4] About 300 foreign Mandarin Chinese students a semester. Good facilities. Large Russian and Korean population. Home to the American CET Harbin program [5] with 5-30 students a semester, which is probably the best program in Harbin but expensive — US$10,000 a semester — and the students can only speak Chinese while they are in Harbin.
  • Harbin University of Science and Technology (哈尔滨理工大学) [6] Nice campus.
  • Harbin Normal University (哈尔滨师范大学) [7]
  • Haerbin Engineering University (哈尔滨工程大学) [8]
  • Heilongjiang University (黑龙江大学) [9]Claims to be the biggest Chinese learning center in the province.
  • Northeast Agricultural University (东北农业大学) [10] dairy and food research center
  • Northeast Forest University (东北林业大学) [11]
  • Harbin University of Commerce(哈尔滨商业大学)

Also, the city offers the opportunity to study Mandarin Chinese one to one:

  • Harbin Mandarin School [12]Encourages a complete immersion in the study of Mandarin, thereby imparting a unique understanding of the need for fluency and nature of a subject while building skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • Will-Excel TESOL Institute [13]

The Will-Excel TESOL Diploma program is a combination of a 160 hour TESOL course and a 6-month work-term.

Studying other subjects

If your Chinese is good enough you can enroll in most of the schools in Harbin. Many Pakistani students study Medicine at the Heilongjiang Medical University. Tuition is cheap.


Imported Russian goods of all types and qualities are available from tourist shops around town. Look out for vodka, Russian dolls, and chocolate. The local Chinese appeared to have picked up some aspects of Russian cuisine, with western style bread and sausage available around town. Beyond this, the shopping is much like any other city in China.

  • Zhongyang Dajie The main shopping district is along Zhongyang Dajie where there is a Wal-Mart near the flood control monument and another shopping district along Guogeli Jie where you can find clothing, food and more. Along this street are huge new shopping malls such as the Euro Plaza, Parksons, and Lane Crawford that carry international brands and are expensive. There are Nike stores, KFC and interesting Russian thrift stores. The street is lined with beer gardens during the summer.
  • Guogeli Dajie (果戈里大街). Harbin's second biggest shopping district after Zhongyang Dajie (bigger in size). The area around here is dotted with Russian buildings and HUGE shopping complexes. At night there are numerous night markets, a small scale Russian church where people dance, and a small and lively "bar lake."
  • Indian Street (印度一条街). A commercial side street located right off Guogeli Dajie. If you're facing the East, it's past the giant castle and on your right. Used to be complete with Indian thrift stores, clothing, and food, but now offers only Russian items, including dolls, pocketknives and toys.

Foreigners in Harbin

Harbin is a city with a lot of people around the globe. Most of the Foreigners living in Harbin either study or work there. Foreigners of Harbin are mostly from Russia, Mongolia, South Korea, Pakistan, Arab Countries, African Countries, USA, Australia, UK, Canada, India, Thailand, Bangladesh, Brazil and a lot more. You can know Harbin from a foreigner's/expatriate's point of view hereHarbin Expats it has details of Harbin and the foreigners living there. You can learn about the community before you plan to be a harbinren(people live in harbin)


Most ATM's around the city work with international cards, such as the Bank of China and the China Merchants Bank.

  • Western Union, Located in almost every China Post 中国邮政 ''zhongguo youzheng'' and Agricultural Bank 农业银行 ''nongye yinhang'', look for the yellow western union sign. 西联汇款 xilian huikuan in Chinese  edit
  • Bank of China Heilongjiang Branch, No.19, Hongjun Jie, 0451-3633518-8111 (fax: 0451-3646455). This is the only bank in the city where you can exchange Travelers Checks.  edit
Underground Mall taken by Shinjirod
Underground Mall taken by Shinjirod
  • The Hongbo Shichang, at the intersection of Dong Dazhi Jie and Hongjun Jie, is an enormous underground shopping centers -- if they don't have it, you don't need it.
  • Harbin Sex Store/Museum on Guogeli Dajie sells all sorts of sex materials and toys. Kind of unexpected.
  • Biggest DVD Market in China A DVD market bigger than Blockbuster video is in the basement of the Jiaohua Electronics Market (教化电子市场). All DVD's are 元5 - 元6 and arranged alphabetically. Across from the Harbin Institute of Technology's main gate (哈工大正门对面).
  • Sofia Jintaiyang Fashion City (金太阳索菲亚精品城) around the corner from St. Sophia Church (道里区地段街) is Haerbin's answer to Beijing's Xidan. Multi story fashion market lined with small stalls selling the hottest fashions from China at cheap prices.
  • Hongbo Century Square (红博世纪广场) not to be confused with the underground market, this is a huge mall in the basement of the Harbin exhibition center. There is also a fried chicken chain from Texas. There are daily fashion model shows.
  • Chinese Military Surplus Clothing Looking for a comfy cold weather jacket like the Chinese wear? There are a number of stores around the city. One is towards the end of Xidazhi Jie near the Harbin Institute of Technology.
  • Western Brands The shopping malls at Hongbo and Zhongyang Dajie have everything from Gucci, Brooks Brothers, and Zegna to Timberland and Adidas. Items are internationally priced.
  • Walmart and Carrefour the Walmart is located at the end of Zhongyang Dajie by the river. Its just like any other Walmart. There are several other Walmarts and Carrefours located in the city.
  • Watsons right on Zhongyang Dajie this small convenient store has every health care product you can think of including western deodorants and shampoo.
  • Metro German Supermarket (麦德龙) near Maidelong Chaoshi (道里区埃德蒙顿路职工街1号). German run supermarket with the cities biggest selection of western food, a huge imported wine, alcohol and beer section, cheeses, pastas and ice cream. It's all there.
  • Scholars Bookstore (学府书店) Harbin's largest bookstore is located near Heilongjiang University on Xuefu Lu (学府路).
  • Flower, Bird and Fish Market (花鸟鱼工艺品交易场) Miaopu Road (道里区苗圃街), huge assortment of fresh plants, birds and tropical fish.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under ¥30
Mid-range ¥30-100
Splurge Over ¥100
Typical Harbin dishes
Typical Harbin dishes

If there is one thing special about Harbin, it has to be the food. Taking influences from Russia, Mongolia, Korea and of course China, the food in Harbin is much "heartier" than you can find anywhere in China, and stews and other duncai are popular dishes. Because the winters are long here you'll find less exotic ingredients and heavy use of vegetables like cabbage, potatoes, cucumber and corn. Chinese BBQ or shaokao and Hot Pot is also equally popular in Harbin and is a must eat once you get into town.

One thing you will notice is that Dongbei people love to eat, and its not just for the food, but for getting all their friends together at one table and drinking/eating the night away. Thus this city is dominated by restaurants with large tables that seat groups of people. Besides small food stalls, only near the Universities and busy shopping areas will you find cozy little restaurants. In Harbin, liveliness (renao) attracts customers and much as the food; some restaurants are so loud you may need earplugs!


Street Snacks

Haws in Harbin
Haws in Harbin
Street food
Street food
  • Hotpot and Harbin beer (火锅和哈尔滨啤酒; Huǒguō hé Hāěrbīnpíjiǔ). Can be found anywhere in Harbin.  edit
  • Assorted Meats on a Stick (串儿; Chuàn'ér). Sold on every street, try asking for grilled bread buns (考馒头; Kǎomántou), its really good. Finish everything off with a egg and tomato Gada Tang (soup). No more than ¥10 for 6-7 kabobs and soup.  edit
  • Harbin Smoked Sausage (哈尔滨红肠; Hāěrbīnhóngcháng). A treat only known to Harbin, you see stores selling it everywhere, it is REALLY good.  edit
  • Russian Breads. Lots of Bread and pastry stores around the city, including Zhongyang Dajie.  edit
  • Haws. Hawthorn fruit stacked on sticks and served covered with a sweet sauce.  edit
  • Lamb. Lamb with spices grilled over coals served with sesame flat bread from the nice Uighur guys (from Xinjiang province) on a street between Hong Bo Shopping Center and Guogeli Dajie. ¥5 will buy you a good meal.  edit
  • Harbin Spring Rolls (春饼 or 卷饼; Chūnbǐng or Juǎn bǐng). A tasty wrap of potato strips, cucumber, sausage and egg all with a spicy sauce. Sold on the street or in most markets (even Walmart). If you want a real spring roll experience go to Lao Changs on Zhongyang Dajie (mentioned below). ¥2-5.  edit


  • Oriental Dumplings King (东方饺子王; Dōngfāngjiǎoziwáng), 38 Zhongyang Avenue, Daoli District (道里区中央大街39号; Dàolǐqū Zhōngyāngdàjiē). Unbelievable dumplings at a great price.  edit
  • Old Sandpot House (老上号砂锅居; Lǎoshànghàoshāguōjū), 98 Zhongyang Avenue, Daoli District (道里区中央大街98号; Dàolǐqū Zhōngyāngdàjiē). Delicious small Dongbei snacks like dumplings, grilled breads.  edit
  • Little Seven Fish (小七烤鱼; Xiǎoqīkǎoyú), 81 Hongwei Road, Daowai District (道外区宏伟路81-4号; Dàowàiqūhóngwěilù). Spicy grill Sichuan style.  edit


  • Hamama's Kofi House. A little Cafe near Harbin Institute of Technology run by a Papua New Guninean and his Taiwanese wife. Great and cheap western food like burgers, milkshakes and an omelet breakfast.  edit Address is: #2 mugong road unit 104. Tried them out and was not very satisfied. Pancake breakfast was poorly executed. Omelet was bland and too runny. Hashbrown McDonalds style and falling apart. Tried the cheese burger before I found out the chef is local. Burnt sweet bun, beef burger has too much filler, and they use local processed cheese which is nothing to write home about. To their credit, strawberry and banana smoothie was nice and so was the carrot cake. Coffee is fairly good too.



  • Xiang E Meishi (湘鄂美食), 140 Guangmang Jie (南岗区光芒街140号). Great Hunan and Hubei style restaurant in a nice atmosphere.  edit
  • Hans Beer BBQ (金汉斯啤酒烤肉), 254 Zhongshan Lu, near Wal-mart (南岗区中山路254号, 近沃尔玛). Great draft beer that is all you can drink during lunchtime. The food is Chinese BBQ with assorted and spiced meat kabobs. A chain restaurant that is available in any large city in China.  edit
  • Big Harvest (大丰收), 283 Yiman Street 南岗区一曼街283号. Traditional Donbgei cuisine in a unique enviroment. The only tea in the house is made from wheat.  edit
  • Fucheng Hotpot (福成肥牛), 47 Wenchang Jie (南岗区文昌街47号). Great Hotpot restaurant always bustling with Dongbei atmosphere.  edit
  • Old Changs Spring Cakes (老昌春饼), 178 Zhongyang Dajie (道里区中央大街178号). Pancake like food stuffed with vegetables and meat, a staple of the northeast and tasty as hell!  edit
  • Homestyle Hotpot, 92 Dongfeng Jie (东风街92号). Great hotpot, especially their beef and potato. Heat source is piped in from the ceiling straight to the pot, none of the wimpy table-cooker stuff. They have a great spicy broth, and there is tableside sauce mixing available.  edit
  • Wuji Rib House (吴记酱骨炖菜馆), 208 XiDazhi Jie (岗区西大直街208号) and 57 Gongcheng Jie (南岗区工建街57号). Dongbei style ribs that are simply amazing! You eat them with your hands and are given plastic gloves to keep things clean. The other dishes are great too and its always packed and full of energy.  edit
  • Daquan BBQ (大全烧烤), 86 Beixing Jiaoyu yuan (北兴教育园86号). The locals call this the best BBQ joint in town. Always packed, really good.  edit
  • Xiaozi Zai Xianxin HK Cafe (小资再现新派港式餐厅), 350 Dongdazhi Jie (东大直街350号). Harbin's trendiest restaurant in terms of design and the people who go there. Fairly good HK style food.  edit


  • Qianlima Baihe Liaoli (千里马百合料理), 777 Xianfeng Lu (南岗区先锋路777号). Affordable Korean food in an upscale environment, packed with Chinese families and businessmen out on the town for a dinner.  edit
  • Gaoliyuan (高丽园). A chain found all over Harbin that is consistently good.  edit


  • Marhaba Arabian (马尔哈巴), Hanguang Street 1-19 (Near Harbin Institute of Technology). This is a great mom and pop sized restaurant which has some low and medium priced dishes. If you don't know Arabian food, the dishes are similar to many Indian and Lebanese dishes. They also have hookahs/shishas with flavored tobacco if desired.  edit
  • Cafe Russia (露西亚西餐厅), (Near the Flood Control Monument of Zhongyang Dajie). The owner is half Chinese, half Russian, and has created a fantastic atmosphere that feels like a high-class cafe in London or Paris. Elegant furniture, tasteful music, a working grandfather clock (with chimes) and a display to commemorate one of the last White Russians who lived in Harbin make this a place well worth visiting. Service is good too. The name in Chinese is 'Luxiya' i.e. Lucia -> 'Rossiya' (Russia).  edit
  • Pizza Hut (必胜客), Zhongyang Dajie (Near the Flood Monument). Real pizza. Another Pizza Hut is on Guogeli Dajie.  edit
  • Katusha, (Right beside the Flood Monument of Zhongyang Dajie). A genuine Russian restaurant. Its owners are from Yakutsk and most patrons are Russian. It can be a problem if you can't read Russian or Chinese but if you can, you can get some of the best Russian food available in China, not to mention genuine bread and butter imported from Russia.  edit



  • Shanggrila Hotel Buffet. Upscale hotel dining with a huge assortment of western foods. Managed by a western head chef. . The quality of this buffet is reasonable. Look out for the live silk worms in the chef station. Around ¥150-200 per person.  edit
  • Holiday Inn Buffett, 90 Jingwei Jie (道里区经纬街90号). Same as above. Around ¥100 per person.  edit
  • Portman's (波特曼西餐厅), 12 Xidazhijie right off of Hongbo Square (南岗区西大直街12号). Mentioned in almost all of the guidebooks but its really nothing more than a Chinese version of western food. You are better off going to Hamama's or a Russian cafe. However they do have steak, fillet mignon, and goose liver pate, if you want to spend the money.  edit


  • Japanese Teppenyaki (京桥铁板烧 jingqiao tiebanshao), 93 Hanshui Lu (南岗区汉水路393号). Japanese BBQ where you are seated in private rooms and real Japanese cook your food right in front of you! Meals start at ¥200.  edit
  • Upscale Sushi and Tempura (铃兰日本料理), 458 Hanshui Lu (开发区汉水路458号). Another but less expensive Japanese restaurant. Full menu of sushi, tempura, Japanese curry etc. can be had here. Seating is in cozy bamboo paper rooms with heated seats! Atmosphere is very good. You can order affordable packages at around ¥100 per person that includes all-you-can-drink Kirin beer.  edit


  • Thai Restaurant (天阳金象缘美食餐厅), 183 Changjiang Lu across from the Dragon tower (长江路183号). Thai dishes cooked by Indian chefs. You can buy alligator meat here and listen to a singing Thai dance troupe.  edit


  • New Heaven Food City (新天地百事成饮食), 311 Hongqi Dajie (红旗大街311号). Extravagant. Maybe a place to close out a business deal. ¥400 per person.  edit
  • Tiantian Fish Village (天天鱼村), 2 Gongcheng Jie (道里区工程街2号). Upscale Chinese seafood dining. You can mingle with Harbin's moneyed and enjoy exotic fish. When you walk in you can pick which fish you want from the giant tanks.  edit


Just because Harbin is below freezing a good amount of the year, doesn't mean it's devoid of a nightlife. In fact, Harbin is one of the more "rowdier" cities in China. Just don't expect Shanghai or even Beijing "quality" establishments. Most places in Harbin have puke stains on the toilets that are months old. With a good amount of foreigners living in the city studying and working, the weekends are always bustling around 2-3 locations such as Blues, The Box, Pacers, or the small bars around the Universities. Dongbei people are reqing (热情) or very lively and seem to drink with almost every meal! Often times at restaurants you'll see drunk men singing away and then lighting up their cigarettes to signal the night is coming to an end. And of course what would be better than to spend the wee hours of the night singing away to the tune of Titanic and Michael Jackson at one of the KTV's that can be found at almost every street corner!

In Harbin, people often start off the night at a cheap shaokao or Hotpot restaurant washed down with ¥1.5 bottles of Hapi. After a long dinner its usually to one of Harbin's clubs or bars to spend the rest of the night. If you are not a fan of the drinking scene, Harbin may not be for you as there isn't much else to do. That being said, there are dozens of small bars and a few cafes, so if you are not one for dancing and loud discos there are plenty of options.

Some non-drinking activities include bowling, pool, or a tea house.


Many discos that cater mainly to Chinese have table minimums. That is, each table has a different minimum purchase to sit there and you must purchase at least that much as soon as you sit down. They won't trust that you will eventually purchase enough over the course of the evening. Some even have the price of the table on a tent card sitting on the table. You can try and get around this sales tactic by saying you want to just have a look around (wo yao xian kan kan) and hope that they forget about you.

  • The Box (BOX糖果酒吧), 82 Xidazhi Jie (西大直街82号). Former expat hangout of Harbin. Shut down after a stabbing incident.  edit
  • Babyface, Youzheng Jie and Hongjun Jie intersection (南岗区邮政街和红军街交口). The newest addition to Harbin's club scene its nothing like its sister in Beijing or Shanghai, seems to have lost its popularity to Tanghui, lots of rich people. Not much dancing. A Long Island is ¥40.  edit
  • Kiss Disco, 150 Dongdazhi Jie (东大直街150号). The biggest disco in Harbin, can fit a couple thousand people, lots of young people. If you enter, you will be the only foreigner. Can be fun but there is a Chinese mafia presence here. Wednesday is ladies night and it is packed. Expensive drinks, beers are ¥25+.  edit
  • SOS Club (唐会国际俱乐部), 110 Zhongshan Lu (中山路111号). Currently the most popular disco with the Chinese. Plays Hip Hop.  edit
  • Banana, Basement, Sino-way Hotel, Hongjun Street, Nangang District (南岗区红军街华融饭店地下一层; Nángǎngqū Hóngjūnjiē Huàróngfàndiàn Dìxiàyīcéng). Expensive, smallish, and pushy waiters that make you buy expensive drinks. Overall, not fun.  edit
Blues: the longstanding expat hangout of Harbin
Blues: the longstanding expat hangout of Harbin
  • Blue's (布鲁斯酒吧), 100 Diduan Jie (地段街100号). Everything that is Harbin, Russians, Mongolians, Turks, Canadians, Brazilians, Koreans. Frequent staging ground for fights between Koreans and Mongolians or Russians fighting with Russians. Friday nights 10:30PM and afterward get really crazy when about 80% of Harbin's international students head out to Blue's to party. Also, at 11PM you can buy a bottle of Vodka for ¥10, but it is devil water from Anhui has made many people go nuts and dance on the pole for hours. During the week it is full of Chinese.  edit
  • CoCo Club, Changjiang Street and Yushan Street intersection (长江路与玉山路交汇处). Newly opened flashy disco. Packed on weekends.  edit
  • New Las Vegas (新拉斯维加斯迪吧), (In Fushun Tiantian Hotel (福顺天天大酒店) out in the development district (Kaifaqu)). It is not big but not small, lots of dancing, drinks are expensive, lots of flashing lights, usually dead after 11:30PM.  edit
  • Earth Club (步行者酒吧), 102 Xidazhi Jie (西大直街102号). Owned by a foreginer named Boyde he was the previous owner of SKY bar before getting shut down, great music, cheap drinks, English speaking bar staff, pool table dart boards. It's a refreshing escape.  edit
  • No. One Disco, (In Pearl River Hotel (珠江路珠江宾馆; Zhujiang Bingguan)). Another big flashy disco as big as Kiss, lots of go-go dancers who are also prostitutes. Pushy bartenders who don't let you sit down without buying a drink. Can be packed sometimes. Worth a try.  edit
  • Jinhao Disco (金豪迪吧), 161 Heping (Lu 和平路161号). One of the oldest discos in Harbin, kind of run-down now, frequent bar fights. As the cab drivers say, "Don't go there, that's where the poor people go."  edit
  • Yes (夜斯), (Near Blues). Yet another flashy disco with pounding techno; it's okay.  edit
  • 哈尔滨麦莎慢摇酒吧俱乐部, (道里区兆麟街21号). A large club with lots of singing and performances. Mostly tables but there are people dancing.
  • Dijie Manyao Bar (帝街慢摇吧), 2 Manzhouli Jie (满洲里街2号). Another bar with scantily clad dancers.  edit
  • Camp David (大为营). Looks like a giant castle, used to be the expat hangout in Harbin before Blues. Full of people nonetheless.  edit
  • Guang Zai, (Near Yiman Street). Frequented mostly by young people. Atmosphere is good.  edit


Most bars in the city are clustered around the universities and tourist districts. The Development Zone has some bars as well but they are more expensive.

Heida Bar Street
Heida Bar Street

The campus of Harbin Institute of Technology (府华小区) is surrounded with a number of small and cozy bars. HIT itself has a number of foreign teachers and hundreds of foreign students. Some notable bars here are:

  • Red Rose (红玫瑰).  edit
  • Sculpting in Time (雕刻时光).  edit

At the middle portion of Guogeli Dajie (果戈里大街) near Children s Park (儿童公园) there is a small man made lake that is surrounded by 10 or so small pubs and a fountain. During the warmer months this small square is packed with people out for a night stroll and is really lively. This also seems to be a place for the trendy teens and college age kids to hang out. If you continue walking down Guogeli Dajie there are a few more small bars dotting the street. Great for people watching! For about ¥100 you can order a "beer tower" (啤酒塔 pijiuta), which is a tall plastic tube with a spigot on the bottom. At the other end of the lake there is a restaurant that resembles TGI Friday's, as besides the name being changed to DJ Friday's almost everything else has been copied. What makes this place really stand out from the real TGI Fridays are the scantily clad Russian dancers.

Near Heilongjiang University (黑龙江大学) right across from the main gate are several small bars and pubs to accommodate the huge Korean and Russian student population.

Other noteable bars:

  • Sky Bar and Cafe (SKY酒吧), 桥东街107好 (Side-street west of Guixin Jie (贵新街), south of Xidazhi Dajie (西大直大街), next to the railroad tracks). Open daily around 6PM. Chill, local hangout for westerners in Harbin city, in the HIT vicinity. Good music. Great place to meet and chat with some english-speaking locals, who have a lot of useful advice for travellers visiting the city. Drinks are reasonably priced (e.g. ¥10 for Harbin beer, ¥16 for mixed drinks).  edit

Teahouses and cafes

There are a number of very nice teahouses in the New Development Zone (开发区). Most will rent you a room and will charge by the hour, plus whatever tea you decide to drink. Some of the teahouses are located on Hengshan Lu (衡山路) such as 君如意茶楼, 雅泰茶楼.

  • Be For Time (避风塘茶楼), Two locations: 102 Xidazhi Jie, under Pacers near HIT (南岗区西大直街102号) and 2 Linxing Lu (南岗区林兴路2号). Open 24 hours. ¥18 all you can eat/drink.  edit
  • UBS Coffee (上岛咖啡西餐厅), 186 Gongchang Jie (道里区工厂街186号). Closest thing Harbin has to Starbucks.  edit
  • USA Bucks, Zhonyang Dajie. Coffee house  edit

Live music

There is a Jazz Bar on GuogeLi Dajie that often has a piano/sax duo playing, and guitar/vocalists can be found at some of the smaller bars around HIT and Hei Da.



Almost every bath house in the city has a large room with 50-100 plush beds where you can spend up to 24 hours. You can also lock your belongings in a locker and use their shower facilities, most of them have a all you can eat buffet as well. Total around ¥50 which just can't be beat. Look for signs that say 洗浴 and make sure its fairly big as the smaller ones will not provide these types of services. When you come in pack light as to not look suspicious. This is not recommended for inexperienced travelers and it is highly unlikely any of the service staff will speak English.

Other budget options include:

  • Little Fir International Youth Hostel (哈尔滨小杉树青年旅), No. 83 Xuefu Road, Nangang District, Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, 86-451-83005008. Owned by a student in Harbin, this is one of the city's only youth hostels. Neither location nor price are the best - try off-the-street-lüguans (旅馆) if you speak Chinese - and it has a dungeon feel, but it's reliable. English by telephone interpreter.  edit
  • Harbin Institute of Technology Foreign Students Dorm 6, 5 Gongjian Street, Nangang District, HIT Campus. There are two foreign students dorms at HIT that may have overnight accomdation. Each room has its own bathroom/TV with good heating during the winter. Can be full during the holidays. Central location with good security. Refused accommodation to non-HIT students in October 2007. No English. ¥50 - ¥100.   edit
  • Metro Hotel (麦德龙宾馆), Right next to the Metro market (道里区埃德蒙顿路职工街1号), 86-10-62979009. Small motor inn besides the Metro Market. A good 15-20 minute taxi ride from the downtown but Harbin taxi's are cheap, also the Metro has a free shuttle service to Zhongyang Dajie and other locations around the city. Quiet and you can get whatever you need at the market nextdoor. ¥100 - ¥150.  edit
  • Meijia (Beautiful Home) Apartment, [14]. Meijia (Beautiful Home) Apartment is in Harbin City Center, about 40 minutes by bus from Harbin Airport. It is only 10 minutes by bus from Harbin Railway Station, Sun Island in summer and the famous ‘Ice and Snow World’ in winter, also only a 20 minutes walk from the famous pedestrian street Central Street. Meijia Apartment is suitable for tourists of all kinds. It is cozy, clean and safe. The facilities include TV, air conditioner, fridge, 24 hour hot water, washing machine, microwave owen, double beds, bedsheets, blankets, closet and with good heating in the winter. Priced at only RMB 150 yuan per night, including electricity and water fees, it is an exceptional bargin. Call 86-451-81767298 for English language information and reservations or online at: meijiaapartment@gmail.com or by Skype: Meijia Apartment  edit
  • Harbin Overseas Chinese Hotel, 72 Hongjun Street, Nangang, (0451)3641476 (fax: (0451)3623439).  edit
  • Harbin Modern Hotel, 89 Zhongyang St., Daoli, (0451)4615846 (fax: (0451)4614997). Fantastic location, right in the middle of the pedestrian mall of Zhongyang Dajie. Very limited English but quite helpful staff, and the history of the hotel makes it an interesting place to stay. There are old artifacts in the lobby such as old movie projectors and silverware. Rooms are comfortable and range from standard to suites.  edit
  • Gloria Inn Harbin, 257 Zhongyang Avenue, Daoli, (86) 451-8463 8855 (fax: (86) 451-8463 8533), [15]. GREAT location, right on the main street  edit
  • Sinoway Hotel (Twin Towers), 2 Yiyuan Street, Nangang, 86-451-86291111. Decent hotel with English-speaking staff right in Hongbo square  edit
  • Shangri-La Hotel (香格里拉大饭店), 555 Youyi Rd., Daoli, (0451)4858888 (fax: (0451)4621777). By far the nicest hotel in town with good service and facilities, far cheaper than other Shangri La's and offers big discounts most of the year except for the ice festival.  edit
  • Kunlun Hotel, 8 Tielu Street, Nangang, (0451)3606688 (fax: (0451)3600888).  edit
  • Holiday Inn (万达假日酒店), 90 Jingwei Street, Daoli, (0451)8422-6666 (fax: (0451)8422-1661). Their soft, white sheets and helpful, English-speaking staff make this hotel one of the best places for English language visitors to Harbin.  edit
  • Friendship Hotel (友谊宫宾馆), 263 Youyi Rd., Daoli, 86-451-84880668 (fax: 86-451-84617132), [16]. GREAT location, walking distance to Zhongyang Dajie and decent rooms.  edit
  • Sofitel Harbin (万达大酒店), 68 Ganshui Lu, Xiangfeng, 0451-82336888 (fax: 0451-82331818). Formerly Singapore Hotel (新加坡大酒店) and "Wanda Hotel", this is arguably Harbin's only other 5 star hotel, out in the new development zone, so not your best bet, but if you are in town for business and you are looking for something other than the Shangri-La, this is the hotel for you. Newer facilities may mean better conditions than the Shanggrila.  edit
  • Victories Hotel (华旗饭店), 301 Hongqi Street, Kaifaqu, 86-451-81868888. This hotel is billed as Harbin's 3rd 5 star hotel, but most likely it's 3-4 stars. It's also way out at the edge of the city by the exhibition center, but due to this, prices can drop. If you have business at the expo center, this is the place to be.  edit

Other 5 star hotels have been established. The New Paris Hotel is a 5 star hotel that is quickly gaining popularity. It has very luxury facilities and a very impressive lobby. Bremen Hotel is also a nice hotel, it has been said that the Bremen Hotel in Harbin, has possibly the most comfortable beds in Harbin. These two hotels are both located in central Harbin. Both on Zhongshan Road.

Stay safe

While it is unlikely that you will be a victim of a crime, as in any large city be vigilant about your personal property, exercise care if you find yourself on a lightly traveled street, and always be aware of your surroundings.

Most trouble that people run into in Harbin revolves around drinking at the clubs. Fights are common on the weekends and while this may not directly involve you, it’s best to leave at the first signs of conflict. Don’t expect bar security to come to your rescue.

  • Avoid going to clubs alone.
  • Be vigilant of your personal property and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Be careful when crossing the street. Keep an eye on the locals and cross with them.
  • Dress warmly and in layers during the winter months.
  • Avoid fish caught in the Songhua River as it was contaminated by benzyne in November 2005 – fish is available from the many lakes surrounding Harbin.
  • Avoid going into small bathhouses and small KTV alone, as you may end up being forced to pay for a bill you didn't order. If you choose to go, be mindful of what you are getting into and leave at the first sign of illegal activity. People interested in a "massage" with extras should avoid doing it in Harbin.

Free emergency telephone numbers:

  • Police: 110.
  • Fire alarm: 119.
  • Medical care: 120.

Remember these three telephone numbers. They are valid on most of the Chinese mainland.

  • No. 1 Hospital of Harbin Medical University, No. 5 Youzheng St Nangang District, +86-451-364 1918, +86-451-360 7924, +86-451-364 1563.  edit
  • No. 2 Hospital of Harbin Medical University, No.247, Xue Fu Rd Nangang District 150086, (0451) 666-2962. All doctors in Department No. 2 can assist foreigners.  edit
  • Provincial Hospital, No. 82 Zhongshan Rd, Xiangfang District Harbin, Heilongjiang 150036, +86-451-566 2971.  edit
  • US Consulate Shenyang 24 Emergency Hotline, 137-0988-9307.  edit



The city is littered with Net bars (网吧 wangba) that are usually very cheap and do not require I.D at the door like the ones in Beijing. The biggest Internet cafes are near the universities like Harbin Institute of Technology and Hei Da. Be forewarned that sometimes you may have to wait for a computer depending on what time of day it is (5PM-12PM are the worst, school is out) and that the Internet connection can sometimes be down for days at time in various parts of the city. Also, these places are filled with a haze of smoke and Chinese screaming obscenties after they lost a game of Counter Strike or World of Warcraft.

All of the computers are in Chinese language, but still using windows so its relatively easy to use. You cannot print at Net bars. If you are looking to print something try going to a print or copy station — look for the Chinese characters 复印 (fuyin) or 打印 (dayin).


If you are looking to refill the minutes on your China Mobile/Unicom/Telecom SIM card, you might have trouble, as very few locations in the city sell the refill cards. In Harbin, you have to go to an actual store and pay the money to a teller to have your phone refilled and often times you can refill out of town numbers at China Mobile or China Unicom Branches.


FEDEX,DHL and UPS both deliver to Harbin but through Chinese shipping companies.

  • Heilongjiang Datian International Shipping Company (黑龙江大田国际货运有限公司), 232 Hesong Jie, Daoli Disrict (哈尔滨市道里区河松街232号), 0451 - 8489 7599 FedEx Customer Service Line: 800 988 1888 and 400 886 1888. Main FEDEX agent in Harbin.   edit


Harbin is known for its cruel winter weather. Be sure to have adequate clothing and protect the extremities. Gloves, thick socks, scarves, and ear protections are a must.

If you are in Harbin for the long haul, try to get away to somewhere warm during the winter break such as Hainan or Thailand. Warm weather can do wonders for chakra replenishment. Also, an excursion to Beijing is a must for anyone staying in Harbin for any considerable amount of time.

  • Wudalian Chi, [17]. Volcanic lake surrounded by forests and small farming communities a train and bus ride away from Harbin. Take the train to Dedu and then a 2 hour bus ride to the lake.  edit
  • Mudanjiang and surrounding areas. This is a short train ride from Harbin and within short bus rides you can reach Mirror Lake, the Underground Forests, and the Yabuli ski resort.  edit
  • Zhalong National Nature Reserve, [18]. Huge bird preserve near the city of QiQihaer, can be reached by a short 5 hour train ride from Harbin.  edit
  • Daqing, [19]. 2 hour train ride from Harbin, this city is home to China's largest oil fields.  edit
  • Hulunbeier Grasslands, Inner Mongolia. Take the train to Hailaer and under 12 hours (overnight) you can find yourself on some of the world's biggest grasslands, stunningly beautiful. Summer is the best time to go.  edit
  • Dalian, [20]. Dongbei's most modern and cleanest city, right on the coast. A great weekend getaway if you are in Harbin for an extended period of time and looking to catch some fresh seaside air  edit
Routes through Harbin
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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  1. A sub-provincial city in northeastern China; capital of Heilongjiang Province.



Simple English

[[File:|right|thumb|Location of Harbin Municipality in Heilongjiang Province]] Harbin is a city in Northeast China, located in the Heilongjiang province. It is the largest city and the capital of the Heilongjiang Province. The population of Harbin Municipality is 9,873,743, 4,754,753 of whom lives in the city proper of Harbin.


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