Harbin is a major city in the northeast of China. Historically, the city has been influenced greatly by neighboring Russia, in particular after the Russian Revolution of 1917. The influence remains clearly visible in the building styles and foods.
Harbin, which was originally a Manchu word meaning “a place for drying fishing nets,” grew from a small rural settlement on the Songhua River. When the Russians started to build a railroad into this area in 1897 it grew to become one of the largest cities in the northeast.
The highlight of Harbin is the unique wintertime experiences available. It is famous throughout China for the ice and snow festivals held each year – huge sculptures and buildings made of snow and ice are lit up and put on display throughout the city, as well as in dedicated snow and ice themed parks.
It’s not always about the cold, though. Throughout the year, visitors also enjoy Sun Island Park, the Siberian Tiger Park and the Chinese-Russian markets. There are also a number of museums and architectural gems that are ideal for a day of exploring.
- Population: 10 million
- Public Transportation: 2 major train stations, 1 international airport, 2 subway lines, hundreds of bus routes & taxis
- Language: Standard Mandarin
- Climate: Four distinct seasons, cold winters, warm summers
- EF Harbin opened in 2010
What Makes Harbin Unique?
- Harbin is famous for its standard Mandarin pronunciation. It’s a very good place to learn Chinese.
- In 2010, Harbin was declared a UNESCO “City of Music” thanks to its long & storied history of musical influence in China.
- The Baroque and Byzantine architecture in Harbin brings the city the name of “Oriental Moscow” and “Oriental Paris.”
- A nearby highlight is the Yabuli Ski Resort, about 3 hours by train to the south-east.
- In the winter, you can have a go at drinking or eating in one of the “ice bars” around town. The building, the bar, the furniture, pretty much everything is made from ice!
- There are many Western-style cafes as well as a vast array of different restaurants – Russian, Korean, Japanese. Harbin is also famous for its street food, particularly in summer.