Harbin

Travel Guide Asia China Heilongjiang Harbin

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Introduction

Saint Sophia Church

Saint Sophia Church

© Zhou

Harbin (哈尔滨) (sometimes written as Haerbin) is the capital of Heilongjiang Province in the Northeast of China. The Songhua river runs through the north of the city and in the winter is completely frozen over. Ice from this river is used as material for the Ice and Snow Festival - one of the world's four largest ice and snow festivals. In 2005, benzene (a dangerous chemical) contaminated the river and the city's water supply had to be shutdown. The city is heavily influenced by Russian architecture as a concession was made in 1896 for the Russians to build a railway to Vladivostok. Hence it is sometimes known as the "Oriental St. Petersburg". It is a unique and beautiful city.

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Neighbourhoods

Daoli-qu
Nangang-qu
Xiangfang-qu
Daowai-qu
Pingfang-qu
Songbei-qu

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Sights and Activities

Russian Buildings. Harbin's old quarter, which covers a wide area of the city near the Songhua River, is still today mostly made up of buildings that were constructed by the Russians at the turn of the 19th century. Most of them are built in baroque or byzantine style with spires and cupolas and interesting shades of yellow, white, green, or red. While St. Sophia is known as the main architectural attraction to the city, areas of the city such as Harbin's old quarter are made up of buildings that have been left untouched since the Russians left. While most of these streets are fairly decrepit and in need of repair, at least the area has been free from the wrecking ball like many other historical districts in China. Only because Harbin has yet to attract the world's investment.
Zhongyang Dajie (中央大街; Zhōngyāngdàjiē; lit. Central Avenue) (Runs from Jingwei Jie to Stalin Park at the river). Pretty much closes by 22:00 (weekend nights included). This cobblestone lined street is a pedestrian only street that could serve as a perfect remnant of the bustling international business activities at the turn of the 20th century. The 1.4-km long street is a veritable museum of European architectural styles, including Baroque and Byzantine façades, Jewish architectural wonders, a Russian restaurant, French fashion houses (Fake Chinese Brands), American snack food outlets (Mcdonalds and KFC and a Chinese owned "American Bar"), and a Japanese restaurant. In winter, one can walk out onto the ice or take a dog sledge or horse sledge ride. It is the prettiest site in Harbin as far as the city itself is concerned, however, if you go mid-day during the weekend be prepared to push through the crowds.
LaoDaoWai (老道外). LaoDaoWai used to be the poorest part in Harbin. A century ago there were only two districts in Harbin, east (DaoLi, "Dao" means Avenue, and "Li" means inside.) and west (DaoWai, "Wai" means outside). The rich expats lived in the east part, and the poor locals lived in the west part. In the early 1920s, some Chinese businessmen started their business in the area. The constructions they built around that period were combined with Chinese elements, such as crane and peony designs, and baroque styles, and form a unique "Chinese Baroque" architectural style. In 2014, the government renewed the area and now it is a tourist site. Nowadays, LaoDaoWai ("Lao" means old.) is an area for one to experience "local's" lives (that means the unique architectural style, and food, food, food, food, and food). The area is vaguely defined within Shengping St 升平街 (north), Jingyang St 景阳街 (west), Nanxun St 南勋街 (south), and Nanershi St 南二十街道 (east). If you are confused for where to start with, at Jingyang St, in between Nanxun St and Jingyu St 靖宇街, there is a later-made entrance for the LaoDaoWai area. Start from there and walk to the east, and you will see all the small streets cross one another. There are many doors (locals call them "MenDong" 门洞), which from the first sight might look like private property, in between small stores. Walk through the doors and you will reach the garden inside and the next street.
Saint Sophia Cathedral was a small but ornately decorated Russian Orthodox church built in the center of the city. Now it is a museum showcasing the international heritage and multi-cultural history of Harbin.
Siberian Tiger Preserve - A must see attraction. See siberian tigers, regular tigers, a rare albino tiger and African lions survive the freezing cold temperates of winter. A little out of the city, take a taxi there (RMB40). Once there you will be taken on a bus tour around the sanctuary. Visitors also have the option of buying live animals for the rangers to feed the big cats with for your viewing pleasure. Livestock range from small chickens to whole cows.

You can also take a horse and cart ride or a walk along the frozen Songhua river in the winter.

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Events and Festivals

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is the highlight of events here. Usually starting in the first week of January, it lasts for one month (or until it all melts). Displays an impressive array of ice sculptures, some as big as 4 storey buildings! Ice is taken from the frozen over Songhua river. The main event takes place in Zhaolin park next to the river. The best way to get there is by taxi, which should take 20 minutes from the city center. Well worth a visit just to marvel at the industriousness and skill of the ice sculptors. Be prepared for the cold as the only shelter from the cold are cafes, which charge RMB20 for a small cup of chinese tea.

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Weather

Winter here can be bitterly cold, averaging -10 °C to -13 °C during the day from December to February with nights averaging between -20 and -25 °C, dropping below -30 °C during some nights. In summer, temperatures rise to around 26 or 27 °C on average from June to August but can hit well over 30 °C as well. Late spring and early autumn are great times for a visit. But if you like the international ice festival, come here in winter. Most of the rain falls in the warmer summer, winters are relatively dry.

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Getting There

By Plane

Harbin Taiping International Airport (HRB) serves many destinations in China. China Southern Airlines has many flights, including to Hangzhou, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Xi'an, Qingdao and Beijing. Flights by China Southern also service Vladivostok, Seoul, Osaka and Taipei. Other domestic and international cities with connections to Harbin, with a range of other airlines, include Guangzhou, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Nanjing, Khabarovsk and Yakutsk.

The airport is small, but there are a few restaurants and snack bars selling local delicacies, Chinese and western food, and a nearby hotel if you happen to get stranded. If you are flying out of Harbin most ticket agencies can arrange transportation to be included in the cost of the ticket. Another option is to take a taxi, which costs around ¥100-130. Always negotiate this price before the ride, though. Drivers will make their meters read more for the ride otherwise or try to get you to pay for the highway ticket in addition. Please ask the taxi driver for invoices and take down the car number if necessary. It is safe to take a taxi with official certification at the airport. There are also four bus services to downtown Harbin. Tickets cost ¥20 and take around 1 hour. Purchase bus tickets at the booth inside the terminal before heading outside to board the bus.

Airport Bus Line 1 - Airport 机场 - Kang'an Lu 康安路 - Tongda Jie 通达街 - Anfa Qiao 安发桥 - Harbin Railway Station 哈尔滨站 - CAAC Building 民航大厦
Airport Bus Line 2 - Airport 机场 - Haining Fur City 海宁皮草城 - Ling Gongli 零公里 - Chilun Lu 齿轮路 - Harbin West Railway Station 哈尔滨西站 - Fuzhuang Cheng 服装城 - Xuefu Binguan 学府宾馆 - Hexing Shangsha 和兴商厦 - Lesong Guangchang 乐松广场 - Guolu Chang1 锅炉厂 - Haci Jituan1 哈慈集团1 - Tongxiang Shangdian1 通乡商店1 - Nongken Dasha 农垦大厦- Tianyang Binguan 天洋宾馆 - Huizhan Zhongxin 会展中心
Airport Bus Line 3 - Airport 机场 - Chengxiang Lu 城乡路 - Guxiang 顾乡 - Anhong Jie 安红街 - Zhongyang Dajie 中央大街 - Ba Qu 八区 - Daowai Long Distance Bus Station 道外客运站 - Jungong 军工 - Taiping Qiao 太平桥 - Harbing East Railway Station 哈尔滨东站
Airport Bus "Hazhan" Line - Airport 机场 - Harbin Railway Station 哈尔滨站

By Train

Being a major Chinese city, Harbin is well connected by train and is a convenient way to travel. The city is served by several train stations, so the station you arrive or depart from will depend on the train you take. Be sure to confirm which station your train calls at beforehand. The major railway stations in Harbin include:

Harbin Railway Station (哈尔滨站), 1 Tielu Jie. This station is served by the 'slower' and overnight trains. The type of train you board will determine the duration of your trip: Beijing (10-13 hours), Tianjin (12-13 hours), Dalian (9-12 hours) and Shenyang (4-7 hours). If you have time to spare at Harbin Station, there are a few 24-hour eateries across the road and a couple of cheap hotels within the area. Also, there are many non-official taxis waiting outside, which should be avoided by tourists. Free Wi-Fi is provided, but one needs a Chinese SIM card to receive a text message and activate the Wi-Fi.
Harbin West Railway Station (哈尔滨西站). A new train station built in 2012 to the west of the city centre and is served by high speed bullet D-trains that operate during the day and evening. D-trains that call here come from major cities including Beijing (8 hours), Tianjin (8 hours), Dalian (5.5 hours) and Shenyang (3 hours). From the station you can reach the city centre by taking bus 96 to Harbin Railway Station, costing ¥2. Taxis are also available.
Harbin East Railway Station (哈尔滨东站), Nanke Jie. A fairly minor station within Harbin, although updated, with trains from Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, Russia calling here. Beyond this, the station serves local and regional trains. Can be reached by its own metro station at the north east end of line 1.

There are also several minor train stations within the city. These stations serve regional and local trains and in most cases the typical traveller will not need to use them.

By Bus

Long distance and over night buses go to Beijing (13 hours). Internationally, there are buses to Vladivostok.

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Getting Around

By Taxi

Taxis are inexpensive and convenient. However, always ask them to run the meter (请打表 qǐng dǎ biǎo) instead of attempting to negotiate a price in order avoid possible conflicts. Flag fall is ¥8 and covers the first 3 km of travel. After that, the rate is ¥1 per 500 m. There is also a charge levied based on the time the car is stationary (i.e. stuck in traffic), but this is usually only of significance in truly awful, gridlocked traffic conditions. At the end of the journey, a ¥1 fuel surcharge will be added to the amount displayed on the meter. If you wish to have a receipt, say to the driver (请发票 qǐng fā piào).

Taxi drivers in Harbin are known to be reckless—running red lights, driving into oncoming traffic, etc.—so buckle up! Most taxi drivers do not speak any English or read Pinyin, so unless you speak fluent Mandarin Chinese showing them the Chinese characters for your destination is often the only option that will work. Do not be surprised if the taxi stops to pick up other passengers during rush hour, and if you are picked up by a taxi with passengers, even if the meter reads ¥13 when you get in, the taxi driver will still expect you to pay the full amount on the meter when you depart the taxi!

By Public Transport

By Bus
Still the backbone of Harbin's public transport system, at least until the Metro expands, the bus system covers pretty much every part of the city. For all its practicality for locals, for tourists it shares many of the same problems of other Chinese urban bus systems, foremost being that the system signage is completely in Chinese, although some buses do announce the next stop information in both Chinese and English. The buses vary in quality, although there does appear to be a program in place for updating buses route by route. Modern buses have heating systems (a godsend in winter!) and are both relatively nimble and accelerate rather quickly. Older buses on the other hand might remind some of agricultural vehicles, are usually unheated and may not even have proper seals on the windows. That said, it can still be a useful method of transport, especially when all the taxis seem to be taken. People who plan on staying in Harbin for a long period should at least be familiar with routes that take them to their residence, workplace, or college.

Fares for most buses are only ¥1 or ¥2 for a single ride. No tickets are issued. Passengers can pay by touching on with an "IC" card or by putting ¥1 or ¥2 into the fare box as they board the bus. Be sure to be standing by the back door when you want to get off at the next stop or the driver may assume that no one is getting off and potentially skip the stop. If ice is covering your windows, blocking your view of the outside, a plastic bank card can be useful to scrape it off. Buses usually operate from 05:00-06:00 and the last service tends to set off at about 8PM, depending on route. Hawkers on the street will sell a map of greater Harbin including bus routes for about ¥5.

By Subway
The Harbin Metro 哈尔滨地铁 has two lines in operation: Line 1 and a short section of Line 3. Line 2 and the rest of Line 3 are under construction. They are scheduled to be operational in the early 2020s. When completed, they will form a "cross-hair" network. In practical terms, the Harbin Metro has a similar feel to most Chinese subway systems, with bilingual signage throughout. English-speaking visitors should be able to navigate the system easily enough. The system is fully underground and uses specially made trains that can operate in temperatures approaching -38 °C. The stations are also decorated in a European style, to reflect Harbin's Russian history.

First departures are at 06:00 with the last train leaving its origin at 21:00. Fares cost ¥2-5 depending on distance. The Harbin Jiaotong IC card can be used, however no discount is offered and because cards are scanned when exiting the subway, each passenger must use their own IC card. Ticket machines are at all stations and can be used in both Chinese and English.

By Ferry
In summer, several ferries operate along the Songhua River, mainly travelling between the north and south banks of the river. A nicer, more scenic way of getting to some destinations such as Sun Island than the standard bus or taxi. Tickets are sold at the dock. All information is in Chinese.

By Foot

Harbin, by chinese standards, is a very walkable city (if you can bear the freezing temperatures in winter). Roads are not as busy or polluted compared to many other Chinese cities, while the city's architecture is not an eyesore.

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Eat

If there is one thing special about Harbin, it has to be the food. Taking influences from Russia, Mongolia, Korea and of course China, the food in Harbin is much "heartier" than you can find anywhere in China, and stews and other duncai are popular dishes. Because the winters are long here you'll find less exotic ingredients and heavy use of vegetables like cabbage, potatoes, cucumber and corn. Chinese BBQ or shaokao and Hot Pot is also equally popular in Harbin and is a must eat once you get into town.

One thing you will notice is that Dongbei people love to eat, and its not just for the food, but for getting all their friends together at one table and drinking/eating the night away. Thus this city is dominated by restaurants with large tables that seat groups of people. Besides small food stalls, only near the Universities and busy shopping areas will you find cozy little restaurants. In Harbin, liveliness (renao) attracts customers and much as the food; some restaurants are so loud you may need earplugs!

Xiang E Meishi (湘鄂美食), 140 Guangmang Jie (南岗区光芒街140号). Great Hunan and Hubei style restaurant in a nice atmosphere.
Hans Beer BBQ (金汉斯啤酒烤肉), 254 Zhongshan Lu, near Wal-mart (南岗区中山路254号, 近沃尔玛). Great draft beer that is all you can drink during lunchtime. The food is Chinese BBQ with assorted and spiced meat kabobs. A chain restaurant that is available in any large city in China.
Big Harvest (大丰收), 283 Yiman Street 南岗区一曼街283号. Traditional Donbgei cuisine in a unique environment. The only tea in the house is made from wheat.
Fucheng Hotpot (福成肥牛), 47 Wenchang Jie (南岗区文昌街47号). Great Hotpot restaurant always bustling with Dongbei atmosphere.
Old Changs Spring Cakes (老昌春饼), 178 Zhongyang Dajie (道里区中央大街178号) (Small entrance on the west side of Zhongyang street leading downstairs), ☏ +86 451 84685000. Pancake like food stuffed with vegetables and meat, a staple of the northeast and tasty as hell! You'll order plates with the fillings, such as meat, potato stripes, soy sprouts, and stuff the pancakes with them. Due to high popularity, Old Changs opened a few other branches in the vicinity. If this one is too crowded (expect more than 50 people to be waiting for a table during lunch time), try the branch at Xi 13 Daojie (西十三道街68号) a few hundred meters south.
Homestyle Hotpot, 92 Dongfeng Jie (东风街92号). Great hotpot, especially their beef and potato. Heat source is piped in from the ceiling straight to the pot, none of the wimpy table-cooker stuff. They have a great spicy broth, and there is tableside sauce mixing available.
Wuji Rib House (吴记酱骨炖菜馆), 208 XiDazhi Jie (岗区西大直街208号) and 57 Gongcheng Jie (南岗区工建街57号). Dongbei style ribs that are simply amazing! You eat them with your hands and are given plastic gloves to keep things clean. The other dishes are great too and its always packed and full of energy. edit
Daquan BBQ (大全烧烤), 86 Beixing Jiaoyu yuan (北兴教育园86号). The locals call this the best BBQ joint in town. Always packed, really good. When you go there, ask for the (Honey Plum Meat) Mizhimeirou.
Xiaozi Zai Xianxin HK Cafe (小资再现新派港式餐厅), 350 Dongdazhi Jie (东大直街350号). Harbin's trendiest restaurant in terms of design and the people who go there. Fairly good HK style food.

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Drink

Just because Harbin is below freezing a good amount of the year, doesn't mean it's devoid of nightlife. In fact, Harbin is one of the "rowdier" cities in China. Just don't expect Shanghai or even Beijing "quality" establishments. Most places in Harbin have puke stains on the toilets that are months old. With a good number of foreigners living in the city studying and working, the weekends are always bustling around 2-3 locations such as Blues, The Box, Pacers, or the small bars around the Universities. Dongbei people are reqing (热情) or very lively and seem to drink with almost every meal! Oftentimes at restaurants you'll see drunk men singing away and then lighting up their cigarettes to signal the night is coming to an end. And of course what would be better than to spend the wee hours of the night singing away to the tune of Titanic and Michael Jackson at one of the KTV's that can be found at almost every street corner!

In Harbin, people often start off the night at a cheap shaokao or Hotpot restaurant washed down with ¥1.5 bottles of Hapi. After a long dinner its usually to one of Harbin's clubs or bars to spend the rest of the night. If you are not a fan of the drinking scene, Harbin may not be for you as there isn't much else to do. That being said, there are dozens of small bars and a few cafes, so if you are not one for dancing and loud discos there are plenty of options. Some non-drinking activities include bowling, pool, or visiting a tea house.

Most bars in the city are clustered around the universities and tourist districts. The Development Zone has some bars as well but they are more expensive.

The campus of Harbin Institute of Technology (复华小区) is surrounded with a number of small and cozy bars. HIT itself has a number of foreign teachers and hundreds of foreign students. Some notable bars here are:

Sky Bar/Cafe: A new bar back on the scene after closing down a couple of years ago. A cosy little pub in an old Russian-style building. Widest range of imported beers in town. Amazing fish and chips, burgers and other pub food. Staff are fluent in English and good to sit around and chat too. Big screen TV for live sports....just ask them and they will put it on for you. They have Trivia every Thursday and Texas Hold'em on Tuesdays. The best place to hang and meet others in "The Bin." 南岗区砖街13号(曲线街砖街交口附近)。

At the middle portion of Guogeli Dajie (果戈里大街) near Children s Park (儿童公园) there is a small man made lake that is surrounded by 10 or so small pubs and a fountain. During the warmer months this small square is packed with people out for a night stroll and is really lively. This also seems to be a place for the trendy teens and college age kids to hang out. If you continue walking down Guogeli Dajie there are a few more small bars dotting the street. Great for people watching! For about ¥100 you can order a "beer tower" (啤酒塔 pijiuta), which is a tall plastic tube with a spigot on the bottom. At the other end of the lake there is a restaurant that resembles TGI Friday's, as besides the name being changed to DJ Friday's almost everything else has been copied. What makes this place really stand out from the real TGI Fridays are the scantily clad Russian dancers.

Near Heilongjiang University (黑龙江大学) on Xue Fu #4 street there are some restaurants and cafes, but no bars.

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Sleep

Almost every bath house in the city has a large room with 50-100 plush beds where you can spend up to 24 hours. You can also lock your belongings in a locker and use their shower facilities, most of them have an 'all you can eat' buffet as well. Total around ¥50 which just can't be beat. Look for signs that say 洗浴 and make sure its fairly big as the smaller ones will not provide these types of services. When you come in pack light as to not look suspicious. This is not recommended for inexperienced travelers and it is highly unlikely any of the service staff will speak English.

Kazy Int'l Youth Hostel Harbin (哈尔滨卡兹国际青年旅舍), 82 Tongjiang St (in city centre), ☏ +86 451 87654211, fax: +86 451 84697113, ✉ kazyzcl@126.com. Kazy Youth Hostel Harbin in downtown, next to the central pedestrian street(Zhongyang Dajie) and Songhua River. A great hostel in a synagogue, cozy, comfortable and excellent English speaking staff in a valuable price. Wi-Fi, Laundry, Tour arrangements and other services also available.
Harbin Institute of Technology Foreign Students Dorm 6, 5 Gongjian Street, Nangang District, HIT Campus. There are two foreign students dorms at HIT that may have overnight accommodation. Each room has its own bathroom/TV with good heating during the winter. Can be full during the holidays. Central location with good security. Refused accommodation to non-HIT students in October 2007. No English. Not likely to accommodate you, and you are best to exhaust other options before attempting. ¥50 - ¥100.
Metro Hotel (麦德龙宾馆), Right next to the Metro market (道里区埃德蒙顿路职工街1号), ☏ +86 10-62979009. Small motor inn besides the Metro Market. A good 15-20 minute taxi ride from the downtown but Harbin taxi's are cheap, also the Metro has a free shuttle service to Zhongyang Dajie and other locations around the city. Quiet and you can get whatever you need at the market next door. ¥100 - ¥150.
Meijia (Beautiful Home) Apartment, ☏ +86 18249460499, ✉ meijiaapartment@gmail.com. In city centre, about 40 minutes by bus from Harbin Airport. It is cozy, clean and safe. The facilities include TV, air conditioner, fridge, 24 hour hot water, microwave oven, double beds, bedsheets, blankets, closet and with good heating in the winter. Priced at ¥199 per night, including electricity and water fees. Skype: Meijia Apartment edit
Harbin Overseas Chinese Hotel, 72 Hongjun Street, Nangang, ☏ +86 451 3641476, fax: +86 451 3623439.
Harbin Modern Hotel, 89 Zhongyang St., Daoli, ☏ +86 451 4615846, fax: +86 451 4614997. Fantastic location, right in the middle of the pedestrian mall of Zhongyang Dajie. Very limited English but quite helpful staff, and the history of the hotel makes it an interesting place to stay. There are old artifacts in the lobby such as old movie projectors and silverware. Rooms are comfortable and range from standard to suites.
Gloria Inn Harbin, 257 Zhongyang Avenue, Daoli, ☏ +86 451-8463 8855, fax: +86 451-8463 8533. GREAT location, right on the main street.
Sinoway Hotel (Twin Towers), 2 Yiyuan Street, Nangang, ☏ +86 451-86291111. Decent hotel with English-speaking staff right in Hongbo square.
Shangri-La Hotel (香格里拉大饭店), 555 Youyi Rd., Daoli, ☏ +86 451 4858888, fax: +86 451 4621777. By far the nicest hotel in town with good service and facilities, far cheaper than other Shangri La's and offers big discounts most of the year except for the ice festival.
Kunlun Hotel, 8 Tielu Street, Nangang, ☏ +86 451 3606688, fax: +86 451 3600888.
Holiday Inn (万达假日酒店), 90 Jingwei Street, Daoli, ☏ +86 451 8422-6666, fax: +86 451 8422-1661. Their soft, white sheets and helpful, English-speaking staff make this hotel one of the best places for English language visitors to Harbin.
Friendship Hotel (友谊宫宾馆), 263 Youyi Rd., Daoli, ☏ +86 451 84880668, fax: +86 451-84617132. Great location, walking distance to Zhongyang Dajie and decent rooms.
Sofitel Harbin (万达大酒店), 68 Ganshui Lu, Xiangfeng, ☏ +86 451 82336888, fax: +86 451-82331818. Formerly Singapore Hotel (新加坡大酒店) and "Wanda Hotel", this is arguably Harbin's only other 5 star hotel, out in the new development zone, so not your best bet, but if you are in town for business and you are looking for something other than the Shangri-La, this is the hotel for you. Newer facilities may mean better conditions than the Shanggrila.
Victories Hotel (华旗饭店), 301 Hongqi Street, Kaifaqu, ☏ +86 451 81868888. This hotel is billed as Harbin's 3rd 5-star hotel, but most likely it's 3-4 stars. It's also way out at the edge of the city by the exhibition center, but due to this, prices can drop. If you have business at the expo center, this is the place to be. edit

Other 5 star hotels have been established. The New Paris Hotel is a 5 star hotel that is quickly gaining popularity. It has very luxury facilities and a very impressive lobby. Bremen Hotel is also a nice hotel, it has been said that the Bremen Hotel in Harbin, has possibly the most comfortable beds in Harbin. These two hotels are in central Harbin. Both on Zhongshan Road.

View our map of accommodation in Harbin

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Work

For foreigners, pretty much the only employment is teaching English. There are positions at public and private schools. If you are in the city and don't already have employment, check out the bulletin board at Hamama's Kofi House.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.

Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.

When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.

If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.

Post

China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 45.9734191
  • Longitude: 126.7237866

Accommodation in Harbin

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as well as stevenwong (7%)

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This is version 26. Last edited at 10:25 on Jan 9, 20 by Utrecht. 16 articles link to this page.

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