Early in January this year I went with two other colleagues to Harbin for a three-day ski spree, and we had a great time there! Harbin City is the capital city of Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China. It is the famous “Ice City” in China, and a popular winter destination, especially for us people living in the south. We stayed for two days at Yabuli Ski Resort, and had another day for Jihua Ski Resort. Now let me show you more of our skiing trip.
Day 1 Harbin – Yabuli
We started very early in the morning heading for Yabuli, which is a very small but famous town about three hours drive from Harbin city center. Everything was so exciting for us for on the one hand, we were about to ski at one of the largest and best skiing centers in China, and on the other hand, none of us had ever seen so much snow before!
There are dozens of hotels at Yabuli, ranging from budget hotels to 5-star luxury resorts. Some hotels have their own ski trails, which are generally open to all the tourists. We stayed at a 3-star hotel that has clean and basic facilities. After check-in and a short rest, we came to the skiing center. Winter is the high tourist season there with the Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, there were many people in the hall. The skiing center we went to was mainly for skiers of beginning and medium levels. Since it was the first time we skied, we hired a coach. After warm-up exercises, there we go! It wasn’t easy to ski at first because you don’t know how to control your legs with your feet on the slippery snow. Our moves were awkward and we made fun of each other. After several falls on the ground we were finally able to ski a bit on our own, which was very exciting.
Our meals were arranged at the local restaurant. It was very interesting that some of the boxes were equipped with “kang” (heatable brick bed) , which are typical in North China, especially in the countryside. The typical dish there was “chicken stew with mushrooms”, we had a lot of them during the three days. It is very relaxing to take a nap on the warm kang after a full meal, or simply lie there and watch TV or shoot the breeze.
Day 2 Yabuli – Harbin
This day we paid a visit to Sun Mountain Yabuli Ski Resort, which is a luxury hotel and boasts the best skiing facilities and the highest ski slopes in Yabuli. We took the cable car up to the snow-capped mountain top to admire the scenery. It was spectacular with the azure sky and clear clouds over the pure-white snow. We didn’t ski there because the trails were catered for high-level skiers.
In the afternoon, we headed for Yabuli South Railway Station to board the train back to Harbin. The station is located in Yabuli Town, and is a small European-style architecture. Every day there is one train from Yabuli to Harbin, and vice versa. Because the train was especially opened for tourists between Yabuli and Harbin, it was clean and quite comfortable. In addition, it is safer to go by train because there is much ice on the highway in winter. I would highly recommend a train ride for cost and safety concerns.
Day 3 Harbin
On this day, we started off to Jihua Ski Resort, which is about one hour’s drive from Harbin city center. It is the nearest ski resort from city center, and caters to beginners with its wide and mild slopes. There we had even more fun because Jihua was really suitable for beginners like us, and after the skiing experience on the first day, we had some skills and confidence.
All in all, we had three great days, and definitely would like to go back there for a second trip. China Highlights has some well-designed Harbin Tour Packages with skiing experiences.
Finally, I have some tips for other tourists who want to come for a ski trip at Yabuli.
Wear a hat, windproof gloves, and a mask to protect from wind, sunscreen from sun exposure.
Various skiing equipments such as ski suits are available for rent at the ski resort.
If you hire a ski coach, tipping is suggested at the end of the course. 100 yuan per skier for the coach will be good.