Journey into the heart of winter at China’s Harbin International Ice & Snow Festival

Embrace the frozen glory of winter in this journey to China’s frosty northeast and experience the Harbin International Ice & Snow Festival in all its winter wonder. From Beijing head to the remote north of the country to discover a city shaped by Russian as well as Chinese culture and experience a festival that’ll take your (frozen) breath away.

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Terms & Conditions

Beijing, China
Beijing, China
Festivals and Events
Physical rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Built to accommodate Russian engineers working on the Trans-Siberian Railroad in the 19th century, discover Harbin’s Russian and Jewish heritage on a guided walking tour

  • Experience Harbin’s International Ice & Snow Festival, a vast winter wonderland of the biggest and most elaborate ice sculptures in the world

  • Tour the festival with a local guide during the day and again at night, when the frosty re-creations of famous buildings, monuments and characters are lit up in technicolour

  • Train travel is intrinsic to Chinese life. Bunk up with locals and other travellers on an overnight sleeper train from Beijing to Harbin, and experience a high speed train back the other way

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip involves two long train journeys including an overnight hard sleeper train from Beijing to Harbin. Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious, but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face-to-face with the country and its people. It's the main form of transport for locals, so take the chance to interact.

  • Temperatures in northern China in January are extremely cold, especially in Harbin. It can easily get as low as -35° C. As you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors exploring the city and the festival, it’s vital that you pack extremely warm and waterproof clothes, including a coat, hat, gloves, scarf, boots and thermals.

  • We pack a lot in, in a short amount of time, so if you have some time to spare we highly recommend extra time and Beijing.


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019.
View the 2020 itinerary
Welcome to China. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. Perhaps arrive into Beijing a few days earlier to explore the city. Visit Tiananmen Square, shop for arts and crafts at Panjiayuan Flea Market or check out the Forbidden City (the largest palace complex in the world). Board an overnight sleeper train to Harbin in the early evening.
  • Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
The train compartments are open-plan and clean, with padded three-tiered berths (six to a compartment). Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided (although it’s recommended you bring your own sleeping sheet, as the quality and cleanliness of sheets may not be what you’re used to). Safe, hot drinking water is always available for making coffee, tea or instant meals. It’s a good idea to bring a mug and cutlery if you’ll be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train. Basic bathroom facilities are situated at the end of each carriage. As toilet paper isn't always available, it's advisable to carry some of your own. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals are available before the journey begins.
Arrive into Harbin this morning. Make sure you layer on the warm clothes, as Harbin is colder than Beijing and you’ll be outside exploring the city for a lot of the day. Transfer from the train station to the hotel, where you may be able check in early and freshen up if the rooms are ready. Enjoy a walking tour of Harbin, visiting Saint Sophia Cathedral and the busy central street of Zhongyang Dajie. Your guide will provide a history of the city during the tour, including Russia’s influence on Harbin. In the evening visit a local restaurant and try a hearty stew meal that'll surely warm you up and typical to northern China.
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Harbin - Walking Tour & Saint Sophia Cathedral
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today explore the Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival with your local guide. Winters are very long and very cold in Harbin, and for entertainment a tradition of ice carving developed, said to date back to the Qing dynasty when fishermen would pull ice from the Songhua river to carve into lanterns. This has evolved in to an epic winter festival, with artists and sculptors competing to create the largest, most extravagant and intricately detailed structures. Entire buildings - cities, almost - are reimagined in frozen form. The festival is the largest of its kind in the world. Tour the various exhibitions of sculptures made from snow and ice, which is sourced from the nearby Songhua River. The sculptures are life-size re-creations of famous buildings, structures and characters, created by master sculptors and artists. Every year, the ice and snow sculptures in exhibit vary, but in the past, the festival has featured ice Kremlin, enormous seated Buddha and a supersized Chinese fishermen. Observe the sculptures during the day, and engage in other optional activities such as sledding, ice hockey and ice mini golf. Revisit the festival at night, when the ice is lit up with colourful lights, keeping warm with a coffee or hot chocolate from one of the festival stands.
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Harbin - International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival
  • Harbin - Snow Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning, board a high speed train for the comfortable journey back to Beijing (approx 7-8 hours) across the winter landscapes of China's north. Transfer to your hotel on arrival and enjoy a free evening to explore the city. Perhaps catch an acrobatic performance at the Chaoyang Theatre or wander through busy street markets. Beijing boasts a world-class gastronomic scene. Feast on roast duck in a traditional restaurant, eat dumplings and noodles in a backstreet eatery or enjoy some of the best international dining in China. Ask your leader for local food recommendations and farewell your group tonight with a feast.
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hutong walking tour and a local family visit with one of below activities: Learning Paper - Cutting or Calligraphy - CNY100
  • Beijing - Kung Fu Show - CNY280
  • Beijing - Acrobat show - CNY290
  • Beijing - Opera Perfomance - CNY300
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This winter wonderland adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities included, so you may depart the city at any time
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.


No meals are included on this tour


Overnight sleeper train, Private Bus, Public bus, High Speed Train, Subway


Hotel (3 nights), Overnight Hard Sleeper Train (1 night)

Included activities

  • Harbin - Walking Tour & Saint Sophia Cathedral
  • Harbin - International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival
  • Harbin - Snow Park

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, excluding overnight trains.
2. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required at time of booking or no later than 30 days before departure in order for us to purchase your train tickets.
3. Temperatures at this time of year in Harbin can be well below freezing. Please ensure you bring appropriate clothing and footwear.
4. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilets (squat/western) are available in each carriage, but there are no shower facilities. An upgrade to Soft Sleeper class is available on this trip.
5. Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.
6. This trip starts with a welcome meeting at 2pm on Day 1.

Essential trip information

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