just when i got out of the train, i immediately felt the freezing cold temperature of a February afternoon in China's northernmost province, Heilongjiang. another large open space out of the station in view. like almost anywhere in China, i just have to follow the flow.
what lead me here was simply to see the ice city and St Sophia cathedral. a Russian Orthodox church built during the Russian occupation. a time that formed what Harbin is today. a mix of Chinese and Russian influence.
unlike the cities of Guangzhou and Shanghai, where much of its structures were influence by French and United Kingdom, Harbin was greatly influenced by Russians and Jews. there was even a certain time when the number of Russians were more than the locals.
but what remains of Russia in this city today are just structures and monuments. Harbin's industrial growth went along with China's economic boom. thus, becoming one of the country's mega-city with a population of around 6 million.
unlike the busy streets of Shanghai, Harbin even at its busiest hours remains uncrowded. Zhongyang Street or Zhongyangdajie is the main tourist area whole year round. a street composed of preserved colonial buildings now used as commercial spaces.
hundreds of these colonial buildings are found in the city. this was not what i expected. this has now been one of my favorite cities.
how to get there:
most major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Guangzhou have regular direct flights to Harbin.
Trains Schedule Beijing to Harbin
Train D29 - Beijing ETD 7:00am ETA 3:00pm (Estimated trip length: 8hrs)
Train D25 - Beijing ETD 10:00am ETA 6:00pm (Estimated trip length: 8hrs)
Train D101 - Beijing ETD 1:50pm ETA 9:50pm (Estimated trip length: 8hrs)
Train D27 - Beijing ETD 3:15pm ETA 11:15pm (Estimated trip length: 8hrs)
Train T157 - Beijing ETD 6:18am ETA 5:00pm (Estimated trip length: 10hrs)
Train K339 - Beijing ETD 11:00am ETA 2:40pm (Estimated trip length: 15hrs)
Train K297 - Beijing ETD 12:00nn ETA 2:00am (Estimated trip length: 15hrs)
Train T39 - Beijing ETD 1:45pm ETA 4:45am (Estimated trip length: 15hrs)
Train K2265 - Beijing ETD 1:57pm ETA 8:30am (Estimated trip length: 18hrs)
Train T47 - Beijing ETD 6:57pm ETA 6:20am (Estimated trip length: 11hrs)
Train K1082 - Beijing ETD 8:43pm ETA 4:04pm (Estimated trip length: 19hrs)
Train T17 - Beijing ETD 9:23am ETA 8:30pm (Estimated trip length: 11hrs)
Train K19 - Beijing ETD 11:00pm ETA 3:04pm (Estimated trip length: 16hrs)
Trains from Beijing to Harbin will be from Beijing South Railway Station (Kaiyang Rd Cor Nanzhan Xingfu Rd)
Train length varies depending on the train speed and the number of stopovers.