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The Oriental St. Petersburg ? - Harbin City Tour

Harbin Travel Blog

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Harbin is claimed as the Oriental St. Petersburg, one of the many beautiful cities in China where it is famously known for its unique blend of Russian and European influenced architecture!

We reached in the early wee mornings of Harbin Train Station. Still uncomfortably unaccustomed to the coold winter here, we were venturing near the railway station vinicity looking for breakfast. It was around -35 degrees i remembered

So we gathered in a building where we were supposed to start our one-day city tour of Harbin. Only then did I visualise how the tour agencies in Harbin work. In fact, all the tours in Harbin are so standardized city-wide that all agencies are able to pull in their resources and shared common logistics.  Standardized in the sense that : -  fixed itinenary for a fixed no. of days. So all a tour agency needs to do is to mix and match. Doing so, not only can they balanced the crowds heading to different locations, but also doing it with ease.

My day today was a city tour of Harbin, and when we were on board the coach, few families were already in the coach from other agencies. I even overhead their discussions how much they paid for their packages when they took up from other provinces. Interesting.

Like any normal local tour package, it has always been a mad rush to all sights with locals usual complaints. This one was no exception too.


Highlights of the Day

1. Dragon Tower  (龙�")
Cost: 90rmb

Well, it claims it's Asia no1 tallest steel-lattice construction landmark. Unreputably, it is a landmark of Harbin,or even Heilongjiang since it has been conferred a rating of 4A by the State Tourism Board.

But personally speaking, being in Shanghai, I've never even bothered to go up the famous Oriental Pearl Tower, not to mention about this steel tower. And i trusted my guts feeling, it was not worth the money for doing some stupid 'sky walking' also. I went up,experienced it,and regretted. But i experienced to fore-warn others too =)

My recommendation is, yes it's still lovely to take the photos around the structure, but not up there. And even if you want to have a peek up there, please make sure the sky is clear. Harbin city has always been in haze! It's a waste of time to spend more than 2 hours there, which i rather like to have it on the later half of the day!


2. Saint Sophia Cathedral
Cost : Free
Located at 95, Tòulóng Street, Dàolǐ District

The twilight of Russian era in Harbin, Saint Sophia Cathedral plays a great part to Harbin's history. I enjoyed thoroughly the views of Saint Sophia Cathedral, though we didnt manage to get into it. The surrounding plaza has been renovated and it's buzzing with life from nearby commercial streets too.  I understand the cathedral has already been converted to an architectural art museum..

A definitely must-visit place in Harbin.


3. Winter Swim Meet?

Oh, this is definitely one interesting one if you are there in Harbin for winter.  You get to see a bunch of Russians and locals performing winter swimming !! The pool is dug from frozen water and jumped from ice-block pedestal !!!  They are indeed the craziest & funny people i ever met.
Imagine you have an old uncle in skimpy trunks, rolling himself and doing inverted handstands on ice, which he claims his usual routine warmups!

I do not know the exact location, but if you take it with the tour package, it's being included in the itinenary, an initiative done by Harbin tourism board to boost awareness of Winter swimming there.
Part of the overall attraction too to attract people to Harbin.

In fact the tour of Harbin city tour was getting more enticing for me as it progressed to the later half of the day!


4. Polar Land / Aquarium (Ji De Guan 极地馆 )
Cost: 100rmb
Location:
If you are heading to Sun Island, you wouldnt miss this place as it is located nearby,or inside the park. Though it is not much different from any other aquariums, much to mention is the collection of white polar bears in there. It has a rare collection of whale species in there too, i think it's called White whale too ? Oh, most impressive was the performance by the whales!  You need to know the timing of the show well though!

The next journal i would continue with the most captivating trip of Harbin, the world most renowned International Snow & Ice Festival held annually at Sun Island Park!
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I thorougly enjoyed the half of my day in Sun Island Park in Harbin. Very memorable.

Sun Island Park (Yang Guang Dao Gong Yuan 阳光岛公园)
There were few main attractions there. One was the Polar Land/Aquarium i mentioned in earlier journal. The next two, famously known as the International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival (冰雪大世界)and lastly the night Ice Lantern Festival ((冰灯游园会)!

Yes multiple entrance passes you need to buy too!
1. International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival 2008
Cost: 150rmb

2. Ice Lantern Festival
Cost: 55rmb

Frankly i always like to lament at ridiculous priced entry prices, but for Harbin Ice Festival, after experiencing it, it's definitely worth it - for the extraordinary & laudable efforts in carving & sculpturing such epic porportions from mundane ice blocks!!! And for the transient moment of enjoyment which will melt in front of your eyes when sunny days return!

I'm still thinking how i should contain the photos separately, apart from the day tour photos. I shall churn them under reviews for some of the preferred highlighted shots i guess. Hiaks. I have to dump them all together on the same day..sigh.

And if you wonder why you are paying for two passes instead of one, like what I pondered previously, I like to explain them in the most simplistic way. One is for the daytime, where u see snow sculptures and by night time, you need to pay for the Ice Lantern Festival entry, yes for the dazzling lighted ice block sculptures!

In a matter of fact, the 2 main entrances are faced diagonally opposite ! So do some proper planning of time so that you can hop over to the Ice Lantern Festival when night approaches, and spent a worthwhile amount of time appreciating the beauty of ice.

The most fascinating is the theme changes every year. So if you visit Harbin winter every year, you will never see the same sculpture twice!







[Afternote]
If you are into the architectural restorations of the interesting buildings in Harbin, you can jot down the list of places you may be keen to go from Harbin Urban Redevelopment Bureau site. If only i've seen this prior to my trip!





White Siberian Husky?
White Siberian Husky?
Interesting performance
Interesting performance
The unique white whale performing
The unique white whale performing
Its blowing air!
It's blowing air!
A 5A Award conferred by the State …
A 5A Award conferred by the State…
Interesting snow sculptures : Chip…
Interesting snow sculptures : Chi…
Fu Word on the vast land
Fu Word on the vast land
Some activities
Some activities
Amazing snow sculptures
Amazing snow sculptures
Interesting snow sculptures :
Interesting snow sculptures :
Interesting snow sculptures :
Interesting snow sculptures :
Interesting snow sculptures :
Interesting snow sculptures :
Interesting snow sculptures, one o…
Interesting snow sculptures, one …
Interesting snow sculptures - Ques…
Interesting snow sculptures - Que…
Interesting snow sculptures
Interesting snow sculptures
Interesting snow sculptures
Interesting snow sculptures
Interesting snow sculptures : Chin…
Interesting snow sculptures : Chi…
Interesting snow sculptures - For …
Interesting snow sculptures - For…
Interesting snow sculptures : Oh m…
Interesting snow sculptures : Oh …
Olympics 2008
Olympics 2008
Ice Cafe !
Ice Cafe !
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival Entr…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival Ent…
The entire map of the area
The entire map of the area
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - Ol…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - O…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - Co…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - C…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - Ca…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - C…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - Ro…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - R…
Ice Skating on Performance! Nice
Ice Skating on Performance! Nice
Iced floorings
Iced floorings
Inside an igloo
Inside an igloo
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - An…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - A…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - Im…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - I…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - En…
Dazzling Ice Lantern Festival - E…
Plaza around Saint Sophia Cathedral
Plaza around Saint Sophia Cathedral
Harbin Sights & Attractions review
Harbin Annual Ice Affair - International Ice and Snow Festival
You would never miss this grand event if you were there in Harbin for the winter. Or more likely, you are there because of this isn't it? You reall… read entire review
Harbin
photo by: mabby