Harbin a hot destination

Snow, ice, culture and food make northeastern city a magnet for tourists

By Cheng Si | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-09 07:56
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Visitors enjoy the beauty of Harbin Ice and Snow World in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, on Jan 20.ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILY

The fairytale-like scenery of Harbin, with its exquisite ice sculptures and snow-covered Western-style architecture, has been attracting tourists all winter, but the boom is expected to peak during the eight-day Spring Festival holiday beginning on Saturday.

"All 24 of my rooms have been booked out for the Spring Festival holiday since around Jan 10," said Li Liwei, who runs a homestay in Xuegu, on Harbin's southeastern outskirts. "Most of the customers are people from southern cities and provinces, including Shanghai, Sichuan and Guangdong, who wish to experience the festive atmosphere in the world of ice and snow."

He said his family helps him run the homestay, and they want to make travelers from southern climes "feel at home".

The increasing popularity of winter tourism has led travel portals to predict a busy holiday season in Harbin, the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province.

Mafengwo, a travel service and social networking platform, said Harbin is its users' most popular domestic destination for the Spring Festival holiday.

The Trip.com Group travel portal said bookings for Harbin are up substantially this year, with most made by people from warmer southern cities such as Guangzhou, in Guangdong, and Hangzhou, in Zhejiang province, who are eager to see snow.

"Travelers from southern provinces are curious about everything in Harbin, including the food, snow and the culture," said Liu Mingyuan, a local tour guide for Tuniu, another travel portal. "And young travelers born after the 1990s and 2000s have a higher preference for niche and novel travel destinations.

"For example, many young travelers like visiting a former pharmaceutical company in Harbin where the building and decorations are as resplendent as the Louvre Museum in Paris.

"Harbin has many specialties and delicious food such as Russian-style cuisine, sweet and sour pork, and the iconic Modern-brand ice lolly, which has a history of over 100 years. Barbecue is also famous here and the sausages. We also have specialties like frozen pears and frozen persimmons."

He said Harbin's cultural heritage contributes to a good atmosphere for Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.

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