China (People's Republic of China)

Languages: Chinese

Currencies: CNY · Chinese yuan (¥)

Capitol: Beijing

Continents: Asia

Borders: Russia, Tajikistan, Laos, North Korea, Bhutan, India, Macau, Nepal, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Mongolia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan

More useful information

Area: 9,706,961km2

Population: 1,402,112,000

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +86

Timezones: UTC+08:00

Last updated on July 9, 2024
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in China.

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival – world’s largest ice and snow wonderland – is truly experience out of this planet! Trust me it will be one of your greatest adventures ever if you decide to visit Harbin Ice and Snow Festival.

In winter the city of Harbin transforms into a magical winter world – Harbin Ice and Snow World, drawing millions of visitors from around the globe with phenomena on display of 2,000 ice and snow sculptures, along with ice slides and other attractions.

When I first heard about it from another traveler I didn’t think twice before I flipped my itinerary and turned ‘Harbin mode on adventure’! It’s an experience you cannot miss if you are in China. Here’s everything you need to know about getting to Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, tickets, indoor attractions – a gate to the most incredible winter wonderland on earth!

How to visit Harbin Ice and Snow World in China – the most incredible winter wonderland on earth!

Visit Harbin Ice and Snow Festival!

Harbin International Ice and Snow World is the main part of China Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, which is present across the whole town of Harbin.

Initially Harbin wasn’t present on my itinerary because simply no information popped out while I was surfing online for best places to visit in China. For adventurous travelers Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in China is an absolute must-see. This annual festival held in Harbin – the capital of Heilongjiang province, is a celebration of winter like no other. It’s a magical wonderland of ice and snow sculptures, illuminated ice buildings, and a variety of exciting activities 

Where to stay in Harbin?

Luckily I was staying in Beijing Yue Xuan Courtyard Garden International Youth Hostel (in Dongsi Alley) – which is truly the only right place to begin your adventure in China. The staff and guests helped me so much with travel advice and making few trips very easy and enjoyable! No matter how well you are prepared for trip to China – trust me – you will need some advice and help – you can check my Beijing Travel Guide. I though I’m a seasoned traveler and still needed help with many things! The hostel offers comfy dorms and private rooms, and has really great facilities. Just there one British guy (half Irish but not Welsh as he pointed out 😉) just got back from Harbin – the Ice and Snow World Winter Wonderland and said the place is going to blow my mind! 

Some facts about Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.

TIME: Harbin Ice & Snow Festival usually lasts from: mid-December till February (although the opening and closing dates can vary depending on weather conditions).

TEMPERATURE: Winter temperatures in Harbin estimate around: -15 up to -35. Such climate creates perfect conditions to create the Ice masterpiece, which attracts millions of tourists each year.

EDITION: 2024 was 26th Harbin Ice and Snow Festival edition!

POPULARITY: It is being visited by over 20 million people a year! That tells all!

THE ICE FESTIVAL: The main attraction of the Harbin Ice and Snow City Wonderland is the immense ice and snow sculptures that are breathtaking in their scale and intricacy (especially during night time display!).

Beijing travel guide - tips & advice for discovering real China - Harbin Ice City

The sculptures are crafted by skilled artists who use ice blocks transported from the nearby frozen Songhua River.

The entire exhibition of Harbin ice sculpture festival area covers about 600,000 square meters and features various themed sections, each showcasing different architectural buildings from all over the world. 

The theme park filled with inspiring ice and snow sculptures, ice slides and life-sized ice buildings is one of the festival’s main attractions of the Harbin Ice and Snow World. You’ll be able to wonder among these frozen artworks when you visit Harbin Ice and Snow Festival and even do ice skating or ice biking.

Harbin China Ice Festival.

Harbin Ice Festival is held annually. It is now the largest ice and snow festival in the world. It is honestly one of the things you should see once in your lifetime. It amazes what human is capable of creating. 

Harbin Ice & Snow fairytail by night!

If you want fill your life with amazing memories, you simply need to visit Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. Harbin Ice & Snow World looks splashing at day light but I would never miss the night image. The ice festival by night is a stunning display of lights and colors that transforms the Harbin Ice and Snow City into a magical wonderland after sunset.

The festival showcases the ice and snow sculptures illuminated with colorful lights, creating truly a breathtaking experience.

How to visit Harbin Ice and Snow World in China – the most incredible winter wonderland on earth!

Harbin Ice City is truly a magic experience!

As you stroll through the festival, you’ll witness a dazzling array of colors dancing across the ice and snow structures. The lights are carefully positioned to highlight the sculptures’ contours, textures, and architectural intricacies, resulting in a truly stunning visual spectacle.

The entire exhibition area comes alive with vibrant lighting designs, enhancing the beauty and grandeur of the ice and snow sculptures. The intricate details of the sculptures are highlighted, making them even more impressive and captivating.

How to visit Harbin Ice and Snow World in China – the most incredible winter wonderland on earth!

How to get to Harbin?

Harbin Ice and Snow City is located in Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China.

Two easiest ways to get to Harbin city are – bullet train or plane – and the most funny thing is that the flight might be cheaper than the train. Both tickets need to be purchased in advance! That’s really important, as getting train tickets to travel the mainland was my biggest nightmare, as most was sold out in January (local holiday time). But it’s the same during busy holiday times, weekends and national holidays.

  • BULLET TRAIN takes 5.50h to travel from Beijing 1300km. Best platform you can use in China for booking train tickets (speed, slow, sleep trains) is TRIP.com. Travel time: around 4-5h. Pirice: $60-$100.
  • FLIGHT – there are many flights for main cities in China to Harbin. Flight from Beijing takes 2h. The best price I found was on Skyscanner.com (check for last minute flights and airline deals) – I compared the prices with Chinese platfroms and Alipay and all were the same. Alipay (the best Chinese app) sometimes blocks payments if you have made too many on the day, and skyscanner is hassle-free and quick on booking. Travel time: 2h, flight ticket below $100 if booked in advance.
  • JUNEYAO AIR – I bought my flight one day before departure with Juneyao Air for $160 one way with 20kg check-in luggage included. The airline is very comfortable, extremely on-time, with hot meal is included. Online checkin wasn’t available (probably for foreighenrs only) – don’t worry can be quickly done at the airport checkin counter.

Visit North China.

Harbin, located in north of China Heilongjiang province, bording with Russia, surprises with almost everything, size of the city, atmosphere, festivals, boulevards, street food, great subway and intensity – there are literally thousands of visitors! 

I couldn’t get enough walking the streets, exploring local cafes, street food and night markets. It almost seems like the city never sleeps!

How to get to Harbin city centre?

Once you arrived in this icy city (I presume if you are there for the ice and snow festival, so it’s deep winter – with temperatures most likely way below minus 20, and you want to get out of there as quickly as possible 😉 ! A very good idea is pre-booking pick up transportation. 

From Harbin Train Station – If you arrived by train the easiest way is getting a taxi – it’s cheap, fast and warm – I paid ¥50 (and there was one more girl traveling).

From Harbin City Centre to Harbin Airport – pre-booked transportation or taxi is the only option, maximum amount you should pay for taxi is ¥120 including highway fare of ¥30. You can always ask the driver to turn on a taximeter to avoid confusion. Taxis are relatively cheap in China and given enormous distances sometimes it is a blessing to have them operating on low fares.

Where to stay in Harbin?

Trust me you want to stay near the main boulevard! I stayed in a super organized and friendly Fuyihao International Youth Hostel (Central Street, Saint Sophia Cathedral). Private rooms are super comfy, the place is clean with great location and atmosphere! It’s located just at the main boulevard. it’s an ideal choice for travelers who want to take in the sights and sounds of Harbin. Crowds are overwhelming at any time of the day. The hostel is located a short walking distance from Sophia’s Cathedral, which you can’t miss to visit. 

Few top budget-friendly and super comfy accommodation picks:

What is the best time to visit Harbin?

Well, that’s a very good question, as long as you wish to visit the ice festival- you have to dress up wisely to be able to cope with the freezing temperatures in Harbin.

Winter climate in north China is brutal – from November to March prepare yourself for temperatures ranging from -15 up to – 35. I was hanging around the Harbin Ice & Snow World in -20 and the night I was leaving the city temperature dropped to -31. You will definitely spend few hours in the Ice World and you want to enjoy yourself and that can be only accommodated with proper clothing. 

How to visit Harbin Ice and Snow Festival?

This is my best recommendation I can give you ahead visiting this magic attraction!

  1. Get Entry Tickets in advance.
  2. Get Subway to get there – is the best and quickest option.
  3. Get there around 3pm to witness the Ice World during day time. It gets dark around 4pm. Grab some food in one of the stalls (it’s delicious and cheap) before you continue exploring the place.
  4. Once you have an extra energy explore the Ice and Snow World at night time. 
  5. Slides are not that great – long wait and slow sliding down.
  6. If you decide to go with a tour – a good thing is that you won’t miss anything, they are making sure you get the best out of the adventure!
  7. Dress properly – otherwise you will not be able to enjoy the attraction with temperature below minus 20 – see my advice at the bottom.

How to get to Harbin Ice Festival?

The easiest and most convenient way is to take subway. The station is located 50 metres from the main Ice & Snow World East entrance. We tried to order a taxi, but almost nodoby speaks English and unless you have your translator in Alipay or a clear name of your destination in Chinese, nobody will understand where you’re going.

Download Harbin Subway map and get to the nearest station.

Check on iPhone maps directions on how to get there – it also shows subway as quickest option. 

  • From Harbin Taiping International Airport, 45 min’s driving (40 kilometres)
  • From Harbin Xiangfang Railway Station, 40 min’s driving (15 kilometres)
  • From Harbin Railway Station, 30 min’s driving (10 kilometres away)
  • From St.Sophia Church, 30 min’s driving (9 kilometres away).

Secure tickets in advance for Harbin Ice Festival!

You should definitely purchase tickets in advance for the Harbin Ice Festival (like for most attractions in China). Here you can easily get them online on Klook. You will not believe the queue for the Ice World at the end of January – my first though was – it won’t be possible to get in!! I’m not exaggerating, there was about 2-3 thousand people queuing up at the entrance. We waited good 45 minute outside only to get in. I was so rushing to get to Harbin that I didn’t purchase my ticket in advance! It was such a spontaneous decision to go to Harbin, that there was no time to think about securing tickets. I also didn’t realize this attraction is sooo extremely popular! Luckily – you can buy tickets at the entrance! 

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival tickets prices.

My best advice – purchase tickets in advance! Can you imagine I forgot to secure my tickets before going there – luckily you can get them at the entry. 

Tickets: Adults ¥330

Best time to get there is 3pm, it gets dark around 4pm.

All types of payment are accepted: Cash, Alipay and card payments.

You’ll get a map of all facilities in the ice land along with your ticket.

Gatting an organized tour is hussle-free and very convenient option from Tripadvisor:

The Ice Wonderland by night!

It’s beautiful during day time but it’s magic at night time! There ice sculptures, famous castles, impressive towers and even slides made of ice cubes, all sparkling in magic colours!

It absolutely one of the most magnificent places I’ve been around the world! Traveling from Beijing to Harbin was fully worth it, given it wasn’t the cheapest 2-day gateaway, it is an adventure of a life-time!

What to wear to survive in the ice city? 😉

PROPER WINTER CLOTHES. OK – once you traveled long way to Harbin, you want to enjoy Ice & Snow World. But this can be done with wise clothing preparation. You need to wear proper winter clothes – some of the thick clothes you already have may not be cold-proof enough for Harbin.

Warm socks, winter boots, 2x pairs of gloves is a must! Warm hat, 2-3 layers of warm clothing (not hiking, it has to keep you warm in a low activity), proper winter jacket, scarf covering your mouth/face. There is no such thing as overdressed in Harbin!

WINTER SHOES – put some Feet warmers (sole heaters) – you can buy them in advance, it will keep your feet warm up to 8 hours. 

PHONE BATTERY – Phone battery won’t perform long in such low temperatures, make sure you have a power bank with you. 

How long to stay in Harbin Ice Festival?

To make the most of the experience, I would highly suggest to plan a multi-day visit Harbin Ice and Snow Festival to fully explore the festival and Harbin city itself. The city is full of attractions, mixing beautiful Russian and European architectural influences and serving delicious local cuisine! It’s impossible to get bored there. 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which are at absolutely no cost to you – I can earn a small commission on sales generated through this website and thanks to that I can share travel guides and inspirations that may help you reach your dream destinations and discover our unique world. I only recommend sites I actually use and have traveled to. Thank you for your support!

Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!
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