Must see attractions in Heilongjiang

  • Top ChoiceSights in Harbin

    Harbin Ice & Snow World

    The signature venue for Harbin's winter-long Ice & Snow Festival is the main reason that both domestic and international travellers chase the cold weather here in huge numbers every year. It's a photogenic and fun-filled wonderland of iconic ice-sculpture, ice mazes, ice bikes, snow sports and snow slides. Live concerts and an ever-changing theme ensure an unpredictability that attracts return visitors. Like most major attractions in China, it's much better to visit during weekdays.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Harbin

    Church of St Sophia

    The red-brick Russian Orthodox Church of St Sophia, with its distinctive green onion dome and roosting pigeons, is Harbin’s most famous landmark. Built in 1907 and expanded in 1932, it was the largest Orthodox church in the Far East and the centre of spiritual life for 100,000 Russian settlers. After surviving the Cultural Revolution it was used as a warehouse for a department store. Declared a protected landmark in the 1990s, the church was under renovation at the time of print due to damage caused by the resident pigeons; it is not known when it might reopen.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Wudalian Chi

    Laohei Shan

    Laohei Shan is the humble zenith of a prehistoric landscape washed clean by hardened lava where ghost-like trees snake up from dormant craters, and brilliant blues shimmer off a cloud-strewn lake. It's also user-friendly, with mostly easy walking apart from the mainly uphill 1km stair climb to the summit of Laohei Shan itself, one of the area’s 14 volcanoes. Do a circuit of the windy crater lip for panoramic views of the lakes and other volcanoes dotting the landscape.

  • Sights in Harbin

    Japanese Germ Warfare Experimental Base

    This museum is set in the notorious Japanese Germ Warfare Experimental Base (Division 731). Between 1939 and 1945, prisoners of war and civilians were frozen alive, subjected to vivisection or infected with bubonic plague, syphilis and other virulent diseases. Three to four thousand people died here in the most gruesome fashion. The museum includes photos, sculptures and exhibits of the equipment used by the Japanese. There are extensive English captions and an audio guide is available for ¥15.

  • Sights in Harbin

    Harbin Main Synagogue

    The beautiful old Main Synagogue, built in 1909, has been refurbished as a concert venue. You can buy tickets on-site to a variety of musical performances, including opera, usually starting around 7pm on most nights. The former Jewish Middle School shares the same compound.

  • Sights in Harbin

    Sun Island Scenic Area

    Across the water from Stalin Park is Sun Island, a 38-sq-km recreational zone with landscaped gardens, a ‘water world’, a ‘Russian-style’ town, and various small galleries and museums. It’s a pleasant place to have a picnic, walk or cycle (¥60 per hour) in summer, though as usual you need to pay extra to get into many areas (most people find these too kitsch and not worth the money).

  • Sights in Heilongjiang

    Zhalong Nature Reserve

    Zhalong Nature Reserve near Qiqiha'er is the most accessible and most visited of the nature reserves established to protect endangered species of wild cranes in Northeastern China. The reserve is home to some 260 bird species, including several types of rare cranes. Four of the species that migrate here are on the endangered list: the extremely rare red-crowned crane, the white-naped crane, the Siberian crane and the hooded crane.

  • Sights in Mohe

    Beihongcun

    Walk astride the Russian border in this quaint Chinese village 100km from Beijicun, where wandering souls are welcomed with a glancing smile. No tourist tack around here – and usually no tourists, but you will find reindeer roaming freely in winter, and nowhere to go but back south. While there's not much beyond wooden houses and swaths of farmland, it is a quiet, idyllic spot and lays claim to being China's real northernmost village.

  • Sights in Harbin

    Temple of Bliss

    Heilongjiang’s largest temple complex has an active Buddhist community in residence, giving it a genuine religious atmosphere despite the ticket sales. There are many large statues here, including Milefo (Maitreya, the Buddha yet-to-come) and the Sakyamuni Buddha. The Seven-Tiered Buddhist Pagoda (七级浮屠塔; Qījí Fútú Tǎ) dates from 1924. There is also the dubious novelty of seeing a temple with a Ferris wheel in the background. The entrance to the complex is on the left at the start of the pedestrian street.

  • Sights in Wudalian Chi

    Longmen ‘Stone Village’

    The residents of 'Stone Village' are in fact immobile orbs of rock-hard lava arranged by nature around a forest of white-and-black birch trees. It's eerily cool to march the network of boardwalks and wave an imaginary wand across your fantastical world. That said, if you're visiting Wudalian Chi's other volcanic sites, especially Laohei Shan, you could easily skip this more distant (but very similar) site without missing much.

  • Sights in Harbin

    Harbin New Synagogue

    This synagogue was built in 1921 by the city's Jewish community, the vast majority of whom had emigrated from Russia. Beautifully restored and converted into a museum in 2004, the 2nd and 3rd floors present a fascinating exhibition (with detailed English captions) on the history and rich cultural life of Harbin’s Jews. An American guide can be arranged with at least a day's notice.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Harbin

    Zhongyang Dajie

    The cobblestone avenue of Zhongyang Dajie is the most obvious legacy of Russia's involvement with Harbin. Now a pedestrian-only zone running from Jingwei Jie up to the Songhua River, the street, and those nearby, are lined with buildings that date back to the early 20th century. Some are imposing, others distinctly dilapidated, but the mix of architectural styles is fascinating.

  • Sights in Jingpo Lake

    Diaoshuilou Waterfall

    This waterfall boasts a 12m drop and 300m span. During the rainy season (June to September), when Diaoshuilou is in full throttle, it’s a spectacular raging beauty, but during spring and autumn it’s little more than a drizzle.

  • Sights in Mohe

    Beijicun

    Further north from Mohe (roughly 50km) is Beijicun, a sprawling village and recreation area on the banks of the Heilong Jiang, separating China and Russia. The area is fast expanding with new hotels and resorts under construction.

  • Sights in Harbin

    Harbin Culture Park

    If culture equals amusement, then the creators of this park have certainly ticked all the right boxes. The 110m high Ferris wheel offers panoramic views of the city, and the Steel Dragon Inverted Coaster is a guaranteed knuckle-whitener, but simply strolling at ground level makes for good people-watching. Look out for the yellow Holy Dormition Church, built in 1908 and once surrounded by Russian graves. The park is in between the Temple of Bliss and the Harbin Confucius Temple.

  • Sights in Harbin

    Harbin Confucius Temple

    This peaceful temple complex was first built in 1929 and is said to be the largest Confucian temple in northeastern China. Most of what you see now, though, is from a recent restoration. The site also houses the fascinating (and free) Minority Cultures Museum replete with photos and artefacts focusing on indigenous tribes such as the Ewenki. You need a passport to enter.

  • Sights in Harbin

    Jewish Middle School

    Attached to the Harbin Main Synagogue, this was the first Jewish middle school in the Far East, and has been immaculately restored and reopened as the Glasnov School of Music, a private performing arts academy.

  • Sights in Harbin

    Stalin Park

    Best seen illuminated at night, this tree-lined promenade, dotted with statues, historic buildings, playgrounds and cafes, runs along part of the 42km-long embankment built to curb the unruly Songhua River and is a pleasant spot to escape the hubbub of the city. The Flood Control Monument from 1958 commemorates the thousands of people who died in years past when the river overflowed its banks.

  • Sights in Jingpo Lake

    Underground Forest

    Despite its name, the Underground Forest isn’t below the earth; instead it has grown within volcano craters that erupted some 10,000 years ago, giving the appearance of trees sinking into the earth. Hiking around the thick pine forest and several of the 10 craters takes about an hour.

  • Sights in Harbin

    Zhaolin Park

    A pleasant green space in the heart of old Harbin, Zhaolin Park comes alive during the Harbin Ice & Snow Festival with its Ice Lantern Display. Tickets don't come cheap, however, so you might want to save your yuán for the more spectacular Ice & Snow World and the Harbin International Snow Sculpture Art Expo at Sun Island.