Tired of feeling like a hot mess in the city you live in? Then come visit Harbin, China’s most northern provincial capital. Sure, the temperature still averages between 25-32 C in the summer, but between its Snow and Ice Art Museum, whitewater rapids, and various wetlands tours, there are plenty of ways to keep cool and feel refreshed.
Sun Waterfall. Photo: taiyangdao
1) Sun Island 太阳岛 View In Map
Sun Island is located on the north shore of the Songhua River in Harbin. One thing you will immediately notice is that places on the island all use the word sun (taiyang 太阳) in their name; there is sun mountain, sun lake, sun rock, and so on. In the centre of the park is Sun Lake, which is a nice place to stop and take a break in a waterside pavilion, while you watch the ducks and fish swim around. While walking around Sun Island, you may start to feel like you are in an entirely different country – there is a wide range of Russian architecture, as well as some very interesting sculptures for you to view.
One quirky activity that you must do on Sun Island is visit "Squirrel Island", which is apparently the largest of its kind in all of Heilongjiang Province. Also, be sure to also check out the Sun Waterfall (pictured above), and take a stroll along its pleasantly cool man-made cave paths. Afterwards, go to the Snow and Ice Art Museum in Sun Island, which is the "world's largest" indoor ice and snow museum (there is more than one?). Inside you can view all sorts of artistic ice carvings and other forms of snow and ice art. What better place to "cool off" than at this museum?
Add: North bank of the Songhua River, Harbin
Price: Adults 30 RMB, children and students are 15 RMB; the luxury sightseeing boat cost 100 RMB, the normal one cost 60 RMB
Opening hours: 08:00 - 21:00
Getting there: ride the No. 29, 80, 85, 88 bus to the Sun Island stop (太阳岛)
Balan River. Photo: 1900u.com
2) Whitewater Rafting on Balan River 巴兰河漂流 View In Map
Many people believe that whitewater rafting on the Balan River is the best ticket you can buy in northeastern China. The river is east of Harbin, in Yilan County, about 45 km away from the town of Yilan (依兰县城) located in "the wilderness" of the Danqing river provincial preserve. The river is 20 km long, and surrounded by mountains, and void of any pollution (not saying you should drink the water though). They have five-person boats and two-person boats available for rental. Before embarking on your rafting experience, you will need to put on a life vest and a safety helmet, as the waters get a bit choppy at times. Also, swimmers beware, the waters are only 1.5 m deep; so they are great for a brisk swim or two, but also perfect for nailing your head on something as you come flying over a mini-waterfall! Balan River is open from June to September.
Add: Yilan county, east of Harbin
Price: 45 RMB
Opening hours: 8:00 - 17:00
Getting there: in the city, there is a nonstop special tourist railway that goes to the Balan River whitewater rafting area. Group travels are also available.
"Hovercrafts" in China. Photo: xitek.com
3) Tour the wetlandsView In Map
Harbin recently launched seven different wetland tours along the Songhua River.
Among them, Baiyupao National Wetlands Park is the best place to go swimming. The park is located 500 m north of Baiyu Village, which makes it the closest natural wetland area to the city proper. While here, you can check out county market (which is next to the water), go fishing, buy some local tea, or watch the local wildlife frolic in the wetlands.
Packaged wetland tours include:
Tongjiang Jie or jiudian - Dadingsishan one-day tour (通江街或九站—大顶子山一日游) ; Tongjiang or Huojiudian - Laoshantou one-day tour (通江街或九站—老山头一日游); Tongjiang Jie - Sun Island - Husan Island (通江街—太阳岛—一湖三岛); Tongjiang Jie or Jiudian - Jinhewan Wetlands (通江街或九站—金河湾湿地); Jiudian -Minzhu Wetlands and Moon Lake (九站—民主湿地、月亮湖游); Gonglu Daqiao - Songpu Daqiao night route (公路大桥—松浦大桥夜游航线); and Jiudian and Hedaowaiqidao Jie - Sun Island (九站和道外七道街—太阳岛).
Add: Baiyupao National Wetlands Park, 500 m north of Baiyu Village, Daowai District, Harbin
Price: Baiyupao National Wetlands Park ticket is 50 RMB
Getting there: at the Daowaitaiping Bridge (道外太平桥), ride the No. 339 tourist railway directly to it.
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Keywords: Harbin Snow and Ice Art Museum summer activities Harbin Harbin whitewater rapids Harbin wetland tour
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