Nestled in the northeastern corner of China lies a hidden gem waiting to be discovered – Heilongjiang. As you embark on this enchanting journey, you’ll find yourself captivated by the mystique of its landscapes, entranced by its rich culture, and immersed in an adventure that feels like a warm embrace from a dear friend. This is a place where tradition meets modernity, where the beauty of nature is both awe-inspiring and humbling, and where your heart will find a home amidst the enigmatic allure of Heilongjiang. Join us in uncovering the secrets of this extraordinary destination.
Unveiling Heilongjiang’s Majestic Landmarks
If you’re a fan of the snow, then you should check out Heilongjiang Province in winter. You’ll be able to experience the magic of snow and ice – the International Ice and Snow Festivals in Harbin have buildings, palaces, castles and other architectures made completely from ice.
Harbin Ice and Snow World – If you’re looking for a place to get your winter fix, Harbin Ice and Snow World is the spot! You’ll find a whole bunch of ice sculptures, snow projects and performances. Every year, they hold a winter carnival from Christmas to March, so you can check out the ice and snow sculptures that light up at night and make it look like a fairyland.
St. Sophia Cathedral – Constructed back in 1907, Saint Sophia Cathedral is a popular Harbin landmark. It boasts a unique onion-shaped dome and exotic architecture that continues to draw in visitors, even though it’s no longer used as a church. When it was renamed Harbin Architecture Art Gallery in 1997, locals and tourists still refer to it as “Sophia Cathedral.”
Northeast Tiger Forest Park – Harbing’s Northeast Tiger Forest Park was designed to save the endangered Siberian Tiger. You can also find white tigers, lions, ligers, jaguars, wolves and other predators here. People can come to the park to see the tigers in their natural environment and learn more about them.
Harbin Polarpark – It’s a polar park which focuses on performances related to the polar theme and it’s known as a top brand in the Chinese polar aquarium industry. It’s one of the most popular tourist spots in China and it’s a renowned polar tourist destination. The project was created in collaboration between experts from Japan, the US and Russia, and Harbin Polar Park’s own team and it looks like a white whale swimming on an icy sea.
Zhongyang Street – It’s a street full of European Renaissance and Baroque style buildings, which gives it a romantic feel. During the ice festival, it’s full of interesting ice and snow sculptures that you can have your photo taken next to. It’s also got some amazing Russian cuisine and Modern brand popsicles to try.
Songhua River Sightseeing Cableway – If you’re looking for a fun and safe way to explore the beautiful Songhua River, check out the Songhua River Sightseeing Cableway! It runs from Tongjiang Square in the south to the Sun Island Scenic Area in the north, so you can take in the views while crossing the river.
Beijicun – Beijicun is in Daxing’anling, which is in Heilongjiang, the northernmost province of China. The Heilong River divides it from Russia. People love to visit Beijicun to experience the northernmost part of the country. You can find the Beichui sentry post, post office, and locals here. There’s only a short summer season, but it’s still a great place to escape the heat.
Volga Manor – Volga Manor is an awesome Russian-themed park located in Harbin’s southeast suburbs. It’s full of grassy areas, forests, and Russian-style buildings, bridges, castles, and sculptures. It’s got an enchanting atmosphere of a far-off land, and it’s popular for wedding photoshoots!
Experiencing Heilongjiang’s Gastronomic Delights
In Heilongjiang, they have a way of cooking known as Longjiang Cuisine, which is from the northeast part of the country. The food here is based around what can be preserved for the long winters. Wheat is the main crop, so there’s lots of wheat-based dishes. You’ll also find more raw veg and fish than in other parts of China.
Mushroom Chicken Soup – This northeast Chinese stew is a real treat – chicken morsels cooked in a broth with scallions, ginger, and other seasonings, and topped off with honey mushrooms for a unique flavor. The mushrooms are nice and tender, and the chicken is delicate and delicious.
Braised Salmon – Salmon is a hit in Harbin – it’s loaded with phosphates, calcium, vitamins A and D. People here love it cooked with ginger, garlic and scallions – especially in slices.
Harbin Red Sausage – If you’re looking for a tasty snack, check out Harbin red sausage. It’s got a great smoky flavour and goes great with “big bread” and beer. You can buy it at the Harbin Meat-packing Store.
Immersing in the Local Festivals and Traditions
Harbin hosts the International Ice and Snow Festival from January to mid-March. You can check out some awesome sculptures made of snow and ice around different spots in the city. The biggest and fanciest exhibition is at Harbin Ice and Snow World, but there are also some at Sun Island and Zhaolin Park. Make sure to bundle up if you plan to go, since temperatures can drop to -35°C. Bring down-lined jackets, gloves, and balaclavas, and don’t forget to warm up with some coffee from one of the festival’s coffee huts every once in a while.
It’s not unusual to see ice sculptures popping up in the frigid winter weather of North Asia – from Japan’s Sapporo to the Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival in Korea. For 31 years, Harbin’s impressive ice sculptures have been mesmerizing visitors. Now, the festival covers an area of 750,000 square metres and features stunning replicas of architectural marvels, folklore and traditional crafts. Some of them are totally surreal – so take a step back and marvel at the adorable snow fairies, dragons and towering igloos.
The Flamenco Ice Tower in 2018 was the biggest ice sculpture in recent years, standing at a whopping 31m. It took two years to make! Other years have seen some pretty cool stuff like an ice Kremlin, big Buddha, snow whales and massive Chinese fishermen that changed colour from bluish-white during the day to magenta and neon green at night. Making these sculptures is no joke – the ice blocks come from the Songhua River but they also use deionised water when they need the ice to be totally clear.
The Songhua River turns into a huge amusement park during the wintertime! People skate, bike, ride miniature tanks, ponies and all sorts of vehicles across the icy surface. Plus, you don’t have to pay a fortune to join in the fun. Sure, you have to buy a ticket to check out the bigger ice sculptures, but there are plenty of ice carvings around the river and Zhongyang Dajie that you can check out for free.
Heilongjiang is a truly enigmatic province, one that is full of natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical significance. It is a place where visitors can discover the wonders of the northern lights, the pristine wilderness of the Taiga Forest, and the vibrant culture of the Manchu people. But Heilongjiang is more than just a tourist destination. It is a place where people live and work, where families are raised and dreams are pursued. It is a place with its own unique challenges and opportunities, and it is a place that is constantly evolving.
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