After living in New England my whole life, I thought I might stand a chance against the harsh Harbin winter weather, but boy was I wrong! Well, let me back up a bit.
I decided to travel to Harbin, China for Chinese New Year, as traveling during the holiday is significantly less busy because most people are at home celebrating the new year. Harbin is in northeast China, almost on the border of Russia. This geographical location makes Harbin a very interesting place, filled with Russian influence, and extremely cold. Harbin is most well-known for its three huge ice and snow festivals (see more here).
Going to Harbin’s World of Snow and Ice has been on my bucket list for a while, so I decided to make it a reality over Chinese New Year! I took an 8 hour train ride from Beijing to Harbin, checked in to my Airbnb, and ate delicious hotpot at midnight because it was the only restaurant besides McDonalds that was open (on Chinese New Year for about a week and a half almost all restaurants shut down).
The next day I spent the morning walking on a well-known pedestrian street with lots of street food, Russian souvenirs, and “antiques”. I saw a beautiful Russian style cathedral, and rode a cable car across the river that cuts through Harbin. Finally, about an hour before sunset I went to the ice and snow festival and spent about 4 hours there; it was absolutely amazing!
The life size buildings and castles are carved out of ice and light up at night. They were beautiful to walk along both in the day and nighttime, and there were also other great activities like tubing, going down an ice slide, or enjoying a nice hot coffee to warm up practically numb fingers!
While this was the most cold I’ve ever been in my entire life, it was 110% worth it. The pictures and videos can hardly do it justice; it was a truly unforgettable experience.