Nothing lends whimsy and mystique to a picture quite like a snowy day. Frosty weather is not uncommon in Harbin during winter. First-timers to Harbin 哈尔滨 ought to take a pause and experience the local scene in its originality. It might be 7:30am in the morning but the city had already taken a life of its own.
A Walk on the Streets
Freezing cold at -24°C. Infamous for its very cold winters, bring more clothes than you will think you will need to Harbin so that you can layer.
Food of Harbin has so many kinds of specialities around Central street and Hongbo Century Square that even if we want, we could not finish trying all of them.
One of the best street food, the sweetness and piping hot sweet potatoes will make you fall in love with Harbin.
We explored the side alleys of Central Street and had our simple breakfast in this restaurant.
Broccoli, tofu, rice cake, egg tart and glutinous rice made up our breakfast. We were holding back from ordering more dishes so that we could reserve our stomach for other delicacies.
Guandong Ancient Lane
We met an unfriendly taxi driver who refused to alight us outside Guandong Ancient Lane, which was one of our much anticipated attraction in the itinerary. We were told to walk by ourselves which would take us about 3 mins. We read from a blog that visitors would need to pay but that wasn’t the case. Entry is FOC.
Full of traditional delicacies, Harbin Guandong ancient lane displays culture of the ‘Guandong migration’ period, which refers to the historical period when people migrated from the central part of China to the Northeast. How majestic is this building!
Everything here is indoor. The place displays an ancient feel and there is a sense of unhurried-ness. With a myriad of different dining options and picturesque spots, this might be one of the few places in Harbin where visitors can snack and relax at the same time.
Many pictures taken and will let them do the talking.
We tried peanut candies!
Dragon’s beard candy (or Chinese cotton candy) is a handmade traditional art of China. It is also a traditional Chinese sweet similar to floss halva or Cotton candy.
There is a foodcourt selling classic Chinese dishes.
A great food haunt where dishes are freshly cooked in front of you. We have to admit that they look really appetising.
What A Big Catch!
Located right beside Guandong Ancient Lane is a huge shopping mall. Our first impression was akin to The Paragon where everything would be expensive but after some exploring we thought this mall was a place for bargain hunting.
More than just fashion shops, the mall is a suitable hangout for families with kids.
Plenty of pop-up cafes to have a drink and just chill.
Located at the basement was a huge marketplace for shoppers to shop for groceries and dine.
Freshly squeezed fruit juice with cute bottles.
What a big catch! We were pleasantly surprised that we could order seafood and had them cooked on the spot for us to dine. What till we see the price 🙂
Here’s our order – a lobster (CNY50 = SGD10)
Seabass (CNY30 = SGD6)
皮皮虾 (CNY31 = SGD6)
The chef ushered us to this cosy dining area while we waited for the food.
The restaurant exhibited a homely feeling which made it a favourite place for shoppers to have a respite and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee. The decor and furnishing were contemporary and inviting.
Everything was hot and fresh! Our seafood craving was satisfied in the most economical way.
Including the cooking cost, the total bill came to CNY137.90 = SGD27.60.
Hey, did we mention our food hunting continue after savouring the seafood?
Big and Small M trying the soya bean milk.
Crispy chinese pan fried dumpling (鍋貼).
Chinese flat bread (发面饼).
Cute animal buns!
If your little ones enjoy KidZania, they will surely fall in love with Time Kingdom. Akin to KidZania theme style of play, Time Kingdom is also an interactive city made for 3 – 15 year old kids who can immerse themselves into lots of fun through realistic role-play in Harbin.
The Wintriest Harbin
Harbin 哈尔滨, which is nestled in the heart of China’s historical Manchuria region, is still a place less travelled. Apart from its freezing weather during winter, taking a walk in the back alleys allowed us to see these visually pleasing buildings that transported us to a place where time seemed to have been frozen for 40 years, a flashback to a simpler and more peaceful time.
In a mood for supper? Zhongyang Dajie 中央大街 has no lack of eatery options.
Small M was wondering why the chef had to use such a big pot to place the dish.
A thriving late-night dessert culture has taken grasp of Harbin especially among the youngsters. We were surprised that Harbin offers one of the best places to be tempted by decadent desserts.
While Small M trying in vain to search for free Wi-Fi amidst the Great “Wall” of China…
Big M knows it is still possible for a selfie.
Sweet dessert for us! It would be blasphemous to talk about cafe hopping without including them during your visit to Harbin.
We have tasted the wonders of Lapland and in our first trip to China and Harbin, this trip was nothing short of amazing. The locals are warm and approachable and Harbin is safe with a lot of securities. All thanks to Scoot introducing the direct flight to Harbin, we came and captured the raw beauty of this ‘Ice City’. Harbin 哈尔滨, we will be reunited soon!
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