Heilongjiang province is named after its largest river, the Heilongjiang River. It faces Russia, with which it shares a border of over 3,045 kilometers, across that river to the north. Located in the northeast of China, it is the northernmost province with the highest latitude in China.
As China's sixth-largest province, Heilongjiang covers 454,800 square kilometers, accounting for 4.7 percent of the nation's land area.
The province features a temperate continental monsoon climate with an annual average temperature from -4 C to 4 C and an average winter temperature of -14 C. The frost-free period lasts for 100-140 days, and its annual precipitation is 450-650 millimeters.
Heilongjiang boasts one of the world's largest snow castles, the country's steepest ice slope, a leading snow- and ice-sculpture competition, and 20 ski resorts catering to winter sports enthusiasts of all levels. It has upgraded its winter tourism package and now offers custom-made tours and interactive programs for winter vacationers.
Four routes in the province's northernmost point that take tourists to view Beiji village, a volcano, a forest and red-crowned cranes have been redesigned, while a special tour of the provincial capital Harbin has been upgraded.
In addition, more than 10 activities involving ice and snow, including snowmobile rides, snowfield crossovers and snow and ice art and recreational programs have been introduced. There will also be preferential rates offered for hotels and scenic spots.
Heilongjiang boasts lush forests, wetlands and lakes, all of which present different views in winter. The frozen waterfalls at Jingpo Lake, the exquisite rime-glazed landscapes at Kurbin and China's largest red pine forests at Yichun are just a few of the many winter wonders one should not miss.
The province's pristine ice and snow has also been highlighted at annual events such as the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, the snow sculpture exhibition at Sun Island and world-class ski events at the Yabuli ski resort. Scenes of red-crowned cranes dancing in the snow at Zhalong National Nature Reserve have also drawn hordes of nature lovers over the years.
Ice and Snow Festival on Sun Island
This year's event featured a Scandinavian theme, with visitors able to stroll streets that look like those in Finland. You can also catch group weddings on ice, a Santa Claus parade and the Snow Sprinkling Festival. Sun Island is a 40-hectare isle in the Songhua River, which traverses Harbin from east to west. Admission is 70 to 80 yuan ($10 to $11.5)
Harbin Ice and Snow World
Located in Harbin's Songbei district, this place is sure to delight winter sport lovers. Covering 30,000 sq m, the resort attracts more than 50,000 tourists every year. There are more than 2,000 huge ice and snow sculptures, including one of the Arc de Triomphe. Admission is about 150 yuan.
Disney Ice Lantern Wonderland in Zhaolin Park
This year, the Harbin Ice Lantern Festival featured Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy, Minnie and Snow White. Visitors can also enjoy ice acrobatics, ballet, circus and dance performances at the festival, which was inaugurated in 1963.
Yabuli ski resort
As China's largest international ski resort, Yabuli provides top-class equipment and services to tourists. It offers 11 slopes for skiers of all levels.
The province has a well-developed winter sport infrastructure, which also promises winter fun for travelers. Heilongjiang's winter sports are the best-developed in the country and contribute the most to China's winter sport and tourism development.