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Region offers best value for tourists
By Zhao Shijun
Updated: 2004-05-07 10:42

The Northeast China region is certainly an exciting and worthwhile destination for tourists.

The region contains almost every aspect of modern China: huge industrial cities, vast and fertile plains, long rivers and high mountains.

As well, it offers its own unique attractions to tourists.

Natural wonders

Surrounding the vast Northeast China Plain are several huge mountain ranges covered by dense virgin forests.

The forests, mostly in the Great Xing'an Mountain area in the northwest, the Small Xing'an Mountain in the north and the Changbai Mountain in the east, cover 28.5 million hectares, and account for a quarter of the country's total forest area.

Located in the northernmost part of China, the forests offer tourists a totally different experience from those in the warm south.

Upright coniferous trees are distributed around the Great Xing'an Mountain on the border of Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia. The best season to tour the area is spring when the tall trees become green and azalea flowers beneath them blossom like rosy clouds.

Coniferous and broadleaf trees can be seen at different altitudes of the Small Xing'an in Heilongjiang and the Changbai extending from East Heilongjiang to East Jilin and East Liaoning.

These forests are a paradise for wild animals. They are home to such rare species of wildlife as Manchurian tigers, leopards, black bears, sika deer, sable and lynx.

The forests also nurture many streams, rivers and lakes.

The Heilong River is the longest in the region and the third largest in China. Flowing calmly through the forests and grasslands, the river displays endless vistas to tourists.

The Heilong and other riverssuch as the Wusuli, Tumen and Yalu mark the border between China and Russia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Among the lakes the most attractive are the Tianchi (Heavenly Pond) on the top of Changbei Mountain, the Jingbo and Wudalianchi (Five Linked Lakes) in Heilongjiang.

The 10-square-kilometre Tianchi is a product of repeated volcanic eruptions.

It is a huge reservoir of 2 billion cubic metres. The surrounding scenery changes in different seasons of the year and makes many feel like being in fairyland. Rumours of monsters haunting the area have added mystery to the lake in recent years.

The Jingbo and Wudalianchi are also spectacular formations from volcanic eruptions. The former is the largest lava-blocked lake in China, and the latter is said to produce one of the best mineral waters in the world.

Along the region's rivers and lakes are the largest wetlands in China.

For the bird lovers, the Zhalong Wetland Reserve in Heilongjiang and the Xianghai Wetland Reserve in Jilin are worthwhile destinations, which are home to many rare birds such as red-crowned cranes and swans.

Season's attractions

People used to say spring is the best season to tour Northeast China, because the emergence of natural colours in springtime is a heartening relief from the unrelenting grayness. Autumn is the next best, when the countryside takes on rich natural hues and the climate remains comfortable.

In recent years, however, as the local governments and travel operators enhanced the construction of winter tour facilities, winter has become the most attractive season to tourists.

Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province, is undoubtedly a central winter destination in the region.

An ice and snow festival is held every winter in the city, presenting to visitors the best ice lanterns and snow sculptures in the world.

A number of ski resorts are located in the suburbs of city.

The Yabuli Ski Resort, featuring thick and soft snow and complete facilities, is the best in China.

Travellers may also try other ski slopes in Erlongshan and Longzhu in Heilongjiang and Jingyuetan in Jilin, which offer a variety of entertainments such as ski competitions, motor cycling on snow and sleighing.

Cultural tours

Northeast China is a region never short of historical and cultural legacies.

This region is the cradle of the minority ethnic cultures in North China.

It is home to such ethnic groups as the Manchu, Mongolian, Korean, Hezhen, Oroqen and Ewenki.

During the past 10 centuries, the region had seen the rise of the Liao (916-1125), Jin (1115-1234) and Qing (1640-1911) dynasties.

In the past two-and-a-half centuries, it has also witnessed the Russian colonialism, Japanese invasion and Chinese resistance.

History has left many relics in the cities, countrysides and mountains. A tour to these places may remind one of the glory and sorrow of the region.


Some central cities like Harbin, Changchun, Shenyang and Dalian are the tourism hubs and major attractions of the region.

In addition to its winter tour programmes, Harbin's architectures are the must-sees for travellers.

A witness to the Russian colonialism, many western-style buildings have been left in Harbin, earning the city a name of Eastern Paris or Eastern Moscow. These, along with many Chinese-style constructions, make the city a museum of architecture.

Changchun, capital of Jilin Province, was made the capital of the puppet state of Manchu during the Japanese invasion from 1931 to 1945.

The Puppet Emperor's Palace is the home of Puyi - China's last emperor before the 1911 revolution, who was set up by the Japanese invaders as the nominal head of the puppet state of Manchu. Exhibits and photos are displayed at the palace, reminding people of the brutal rule of the Japanese invaders.

Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province, was the political centre of the Qing Dynasty before it defeated the Ming Dynasty in 1644.

The city's major tourism attraction is the Imperial Palace, built by Nurhachi and Huang Taiji, founders of the Qing Dynasty. This is a mini-Forbidden City in layout, although it is far smaller and the features are Manchu.

The palace functions as a museum, with exhibitions of ivory and jade artifacts, furnitures and ancient paintings.

Liaoning is the only coastal province in the region and Dalian is its most attractive coastal city.

It is also one of the most charming cities in China, therefore, some said the city alone makes a trip to Liaoning worthwhile.

Perched on the southern tip of the Liaodong Peninsula, the city is an attractive coastal resort, featuring clean air and comfortable beaches.

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