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3-day tour in Harbin: Where the East and West meet

Updated : 2018-12-07

By Yang Min ( chinadaily.com.cn )

Day 1: Exotic architecture and river scenery

For anyone visiting Harbin starting your journey in the Chinese-Baroque Historic Block, accessible by Metro Line 4, is a must.

 Located on Daowai Nan Street, the Daowai district contains some of China's largest and most intact buildings in the "Chinese Baroque" architectural style.

Built about a century ago and covering 288,300 square meters, the buildings sport Western baroque style for their exterior design, while retaining the traditional layout of Chinese courtyards inside.

Wandering in the block, you will feel as if you are in a museum of Baroque architecture. The weather-beaten appearance will bring to mind the glorious past the buildings witnessed.

Next, to enjoy the charming beauty of the city's main waterway, walk 800 meters across the block to Jiangpan Road to see the Songhua River.

Heading west along the river, you will pass through the Harbin Flood Control Monument. It commemorates the valiant struggle against the deadly massive floods of 1957. Built a year later, the 22.5 meter-high cylindrical tower with an arched corridor has become the city's landmark.

Keep walking north and you will see Stalin Park, Qiuzhan Park, Youli Park, Sun Island Dock, Jiuzhan Dock, Tiyu Dock and the Songhua River Road Bridge.

In the summer, the leafy promenade lining the Songhua River offers a nice canopy for taking a stroll in the afternoon sunshine

If you are tired or prefer a panoramic view of the downtown section of Songhua River, you can take the Sun Island Tourists Boat, which will take you around the main channel of Songhua River, Songhua River Road Bridge, Baoye Building, Stalin Park, Water Club,  Harbin Flood Control Monument, Binzhou Railway Bridge, Jingjiangli and other scenery along the south bank of Songhua River.

The 13-kilometer water journey will take you about forty minutes.

In mid-winter, Songhua River will be frozen solid with ice half a meter thick . All ferries and tourist boats stop operations and the frozen river becomes a playground for winter sports.

Biking, skating, miniature tanks and ponies, people get to enjoy almost every conceivable mode of transport in a fun day on the frozen river surface.

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St. Sophia Church. [Photo/IC]

After having fun on the ice you can walk to the Harbin Central Avenue.

People often say if you haven't been to the Harbin Central Avenue, then you haven't been to Harbin. Whether you agree or not, the saying does reflect the vital role the landmark has played in the city's evolution and blending of cultures.

Central Avenue was first constructed in 1898, and later became a bustling commercial street. Starting at Flood Control Monument near Songhua River in the north and running 1,450 meters to Jingwei Street in the south, the street has 71 European-style buildings, and 13 baroque, eclectic and modern buildings.

The street comes alive after sunset with crowds shopping, dining and enjoying the night life.

Walking on Central Avenue, you can feel the strong exotic presence of the various styles and beautiful buildings. In front of Modern Hotel, the first hotel in the city, you can try some traditional Harbin ice cream. For authentic Russian cuisine, go to Huamei Restaurant, Modern Western Hotel or Portman Western Restaurant.

Walking about 10-minutes from the southern section of Harbin Central Avenue, you will arrive at another landmark of the city—St. Sophia Church.

The church witnessed the history of Harbin and embodies the romantic feeling of the city.

St. Sophia Church is the best-preserved example of Byzantine architecture in China. It was built in 1907 and was once the biggest church made of brick and wood in the Far East. It is a combination of a diverse mixture of architectural styles with a Russian dome and Roman clerestory. The church is 53.25-meters high, and has a total area of 721 square meters.

In November 1996, the State Council listed it in the fourth batch of Key National Heritage Conservation Units.

Appreciating the church illuminated with lights at night will make you feel transported to a peaceful past.

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Harbin Central Avenue illuminated with golden lights. [Photo/from internet]

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