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Unfurling up to Russia in the north, Heilongjiang (黑龙江, Hēilóngjiāng), meaning 'Black Dragon River', is one of China's most beautifully rugged provinces. Forests, lakes and mountains, and the dormant volcanoes of Wudalian Chi beckon well beyond the capital Harbin (Hā’ěrbīn), an architecturally diverse city with a distinctly cosmopolitan feel.

Of course, it gets cold – sub-Arctic cold – in China’s northernmost province, but Harbin is a winter playground, hosting a world-renowned ice-sculpture festival and a brand-new indoor ski centre. The province also boasts some of China's most established ski slopes, which are increasingly popular as the country prepares for the Winter Olympics in 2022.

From Mohe, China’s most northerly city, you can access the remote Beijicun and Beihongcun for bragging rights to say you have stood at the very top of the Middle Kingdom.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Heilongjiang.