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Introducing Hāěrbīn

For a city of its size, Hā’ěrbīn (Harbin) is surprisingly easygoing. Cars (and even bicycles) are barred from Zhongyang Dajie, the main drag of the historic Dàolǐqū district, where most of Hā’ěrbīn’s historical buildings can be found. The long riverfront also provides sanctuary for walkers, as does Sun Island on the other side.

The city’s sights are as varied as the architectural styles on the old street. Temples, old churches and synagogues coexist, while deep in the southern suburbs a former Japanese germ-warfare base is a sobering reminder of less harmonious times. Hā’ěrbīn’s rich Russian and Jewish heritage makes it worth visiting at any time of year, but winter is tops with the world-class ice sculpture festival turning the frosty riverfront, and other venues, into a multicoloured wonderland.