Why go south to the tropics to escape winter? Harbin‘s winter attractions are spectacular and well worth braving the -30C cold. Workers put in tremendous effort to turn haul ice from the local river and carve them into all sorts of beautiful artistic creations. The Ice and Snow World is easily accessible by the double decker tourism bus route from the city centre. With a hefty admission fee, the best way to visit is to start early before sunset, when crowds are thin and you can take as many selfies as you want, undisturbed.
As evening descends, the tour buses start arriving and the sight will be bursting with tourists. The same sculptures would look entirely different by now thanks to all the lights embedded within the ice.
By now, you may be sick of the cold. Head indoors to visit the local Russian synagogue or the germ warfare museum in the outskirts to see the awful experiments conducted on civilians during the Japanese invasion.
Once you have warmed up, head outside again and explore the crumbling buildings in LaoDaoWai. Don’t expect them to be around much longer. Some streets have already been revitalized and turned into shopping/dining areas.
The easiest way to reach Harbin is to fly to Beijing and transferring to a domestic flight. The journey from Beijing to Harbin by air takes about 2 hours while high-speed trains take 7.