Harbin Travel Plan – Ice Festival and More!

Updated – 2 Jan, 2019

Planning your trip to the Ice Festival in Harbin? Make sure you make the most out of your time there and most important – keep warm!

Read more: How to Survive the World’s Largest Ice Festival

First! Some General Travel tips

1/ Harbin’s International Ice and Snow Festival officially opens on January 5th and lasts until February 28th. These dates are valid yearly. But, most of the main attractions are in soft-open mode starting around Dec. 20th and will last a bit into March too. Better double check before you go, as you might be able to catch the show before the big tourist rush.

2/ Entrance tickets to main festival locations are not cheap! And currently are not available for booking in advance, unless you hire a local tour guide.


3/ Day light is limited in Harbin and sunset is as early as 15:30. It’s great for visiting the Ice sculpture parks, but don’t leave Tigers’ park, Songhua river swimming contest or the Snow sculptures’ park to the afternoon hours.

4/ Harbin’s airport is about 1 hour’ drive from down-town. Plan accordingly (or get your Airport Pick Up HERE)

5/ Do not expect to find many English speakers in the city, not even among tour guides.


2 Days Travel Plan

Day 1 – Full day Ice and Snow Festival

The Harbin Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo (Snow Expo 雪世博会)

This beautiful snow sculptures’ park is very large and offers also some winter activities which can be fun for kids and kids-at-heart.

Harbin Snow Sculptures Park
Harbin Snow Sculptures Park in Sun Island

Location: Sun Island Park. Please note: busses won’t take you close to the entrance! Better take a taxi or a private car.

Time to spend: 2-3 hours

Opening hours: 08:30-18:30

Inside Café / warm area: Yes, at the end of the park

Recommended time to visit: Morning / noon (before sunset)

Tickets’ price: Adult (above 1.2 meters) – CNY 330 / Child (between 1.2-1.4 meters) –  CNY 200/ Child under 1.2 meters – free


Take your time in-between visits to go back to Harbin city and have warm lunch. You can go to Central Street (see details below) for that, or just one of the many restaurants in the city.


The Ice and Snow World (冰雪大世界) 

The main attraction of the festival and is covering a large area as well. This is where you will find the huge castles and large ice structures. There are a few indoor-areas inside the park where it is recommended to take some time off to warm up inside.

harbin ice festival
Main site of the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

Location: West part of the Sun Island, Songbei District

Time to spend: 2-3 hours

Opening Hours: 11:00-22:00 (lights are turn on from 16:30 to 21:30)

Inside Café / warm area: Yes, in the middle of the park

Recommended time to visit: Enter before sunset and stay there while it’s dark for cheaper tickets

Tickets’ price (before 12:00): Adult (above 1.2 meters) – CNY 100 / Child (1.2-1.4 meters tall) – CNY 80/ Child under 1.2 meters – free

Tickets’ price (after 12:00): Adult (above 1.2 meters) – 330 / Child (1.2-1.4 meters tall) – 200 / Child under 1.2 meters – free

Apart of the Ice and Snow Festival locations, Harbin has other interesting things to do and destinations to explore

Day 2 – Full day in Harbin

Siberian Tigers’ Park

Siberian tigers park Harbin
Yes, they are that cool (about the snow and all)

This park is the only place in the world where Siberian tigers are being saved and bread. Also known as the “Manchurian tiger”, this is one of the world’s top 10 endangered animals. Visiting the park is a unique experience and you also get to drive in a protected bus, in the open area to get a closer look!

Location: northern side of the Songhua River and neighbors the Sun Island

Time to spend: 1-2 hours

Opening hours: 8:00-23:00

Inside Café / warm area: In the shopping area at the entrance/exit

Recommended time to visit: Morning time

Tickets’ price: Adult (above 1.2 meters) – CNY 130 / Child (1.2-1.4 meters tall) – CNY 85 / Child under 1.2 meters – free


Central Street

Day tour in Harbin
Harbin Central Street – Get your Hot Chocolate here

The Central street in Harbin is an interesting exhibition of European – Russian style architecture and also, just a fun pedestrian street to explore; There are shops, cafes local and Russian style restaurants to warm up inside.


Saint Sophia Cathedral (Church)

Saint Sophia Church Harbin
Saint Sophia Church Harbin

Saint Sophia Church is located not too far from Central Street (still not recommended to walk in the cold weather though) and is the largest Eastern Orthodox Church in the Far East. The Cathedral is now operating as a museum, telling the story of old Harbin.


Harbin New Synagogue

New Synagogue Jewish Harbin
New Synagogue in Harbin

Harbin also has an interesting Jewish past, with a community that was established there in late 1800’s. The former New Synagogue site is now a museum telling the story of this community. Other sites that might interest you in this context are the “old Synagogue”, the Jewish Cemetery and Hotel Modern located on the Central Street.


If You Have an Extra Evening / Half a Day on Your Itinerary

Harbin Ice Lantern Show – Zhaolin Park

The third most important Ice Festival location in Harbin is the Lantern Show on Zhaolin Park. It is usually not too crowded and is also much smaller than the main 2 parks of the festival, but still worth exploring.

Zhaolin lantern park Harbin
Smaller but pretty impressive!

We would recommend adding it on your first evening, before visiting the main Ice and Snow world park as it won’t be as impressive otherwise.

Location: 74 Youyi Lu (74 Friendship Road), at the northern end of Zhaolin Dajie in Daoli District

Opening hours: 10:00-21:00

Time to spend: 1-2 hours

Inside Café / warm area: Yes, at the end of the park

Recommended time to visit: Better enter after sunset

Tickets’ price: Adult (above 1.2 meters) – 150 CNY/ Child under 1.2 meters – free


Harbin Wanda Ice Lantern World

Opened in 2017, the Wanda Ice World is a great addition to the Ice and Snow world and is built on top of Wanda Harbin theme park.

Wanda Ice Park Harbin
The first indoor Ice park in China!

If you are looking for children activities, this is a good option; the park features various winter activities, singing, dancing and acrobatics performances; you can also find fairy-tale night circuit, snow football, ice tug-of-war, ice bowling, and winter dragon boating rowing.

Location: No. 99 Shimao Avenue, Songbei District, Harbin

Time to spend: 2-3 hours

Opening hours: 9:30 – 22:00

Inside Café / warm area: Inside the park

Recommended time to visit: Better enter after sunset

Tickets’ price: from CNY 68-488. Tickets’ prices vary for adults, 1 adult with a child (under 1.5 meters) and children under 1.5 m. tall


Songhua River Swimming Contest

Harbin Songhua river swimming contest - brrrrr

Yes, you’ve read it correct, there are (real) man and women who go swimming in the freezing waters of the Songhua river during winter. You can go cheer for them, while blessing your warm coat and hat!

Check out all Harbin Tours and Services HERE


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