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.