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Harbin Travel Tips

Harbin Travel Tips, Harbin Travel Advice, Harbin Tour Tips, Harbin Tour Advice, Harbin Travel Information

1: Visa
You do need a China Visa to enter Harbin. Foreign visitors can obtain individual or group visas from Chinese embassies and consulates, usually within a day or two. For individual travelers, single-entry visas are valid for entry within three months. For business people and other regular visitors there are multiple-entry visas good for six months at a time. Each visa is valid for a stay of 30 or 60 days, and can be extended while in China. Visitors should be sure to carry their passports while in China as they are needed to check into hotels, make plane or train reservations, exchange money or establish the holder's identity. 
2: When to travel to Harbin? 
The best time to visit Harbin is from December to February of the next year. Harbin is known for its coldest weather and longest winter among Chinese big cities. The winter season which makes Harbin as a white world colored by snow. During the winter season, the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival will be held with various snow related activates. 
Chinese National Holidays are the worst time to travel to Harbin. Chinese like to say People Mountain, People Sea meaning lots of people in one place. You will be like a drop of water in the Pacific Ocean if you travel to Harbin during Chinese National Holidays. 
Chinese National Day Holiday is from Oct 01 to Oct 07, avoid this period of time. Chinese New Year Holiday is also a 7 day holiday and it is celebrated according to Chinese Lunar calendar, avoid Chinese New Year Holidays (usually in January or February).
3: Sightseeing Places and Itinerary
Must-see places in Harbin
Ice & Snow World
Yabuli International Ski Resort
Erlongshan Ski Resort
Central Avenue
Sun Island
Base on the local of the sightseeing places, it is better to arrange you itinerary the following way:
3 Days Harbin tour itineraries
Day 1: Arrive in Harbin, transfer to hotel.
Day 2: Visit Snow Carving Festival in Sun Island, Tiger Park, Sophia Church, Central Avenue, Ice & Snow World. 
Day 3: Visit winter swimming pool, depart from Harbin.
4 Days Harbin tour itineraries
Day 1: Arrive in Harbin, transfer to hotel.
Day 2: Stroll along Songhua River, visit Sun Island, Central Avenue, Sophia Church, Central Avenue, Ice & Snow World. 
Day 3: Yabuli Ski Resort, 
Day 4: Yabuli Ski Resort, depart from Harbin.
4. Money & Exchange
Currency Exchange
You can exchange traveler's checks or cash at most banks, and most 5-star and 4-star hotels always have a money exchange counter. You can also get a cash advance on your credit card on ATM machine. The exchange rate all over China is the same fixed by Bank of China. To change money, you have to have your passport at hand. If you want to change money in a hotel, you usually have to be a guest there. Sometimes if you are not a guest in a hotel but need to change money there, you can just say a random room number, but this doesn't always work. Remember to keep the exchange slip well because you need this slip to change the Chinese Yuan back to your currency if you do have this need at the end of the tour. At present, the RMB is not exchangeable on the International market, so it is only usable within the country. So when you are changing money, don't change too much, because it is difficult to change back into other currencies. To change RMB back into your home currency, you must retain the exchange slips that are given to you at the bank or money exchange counter.
Credit Card
Credit card is widely acceptable in hotels, department stores, restaurants and boutiques in Harbin. The credit cards commonly acceptable in China are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express Card.
Harbin is a very ATM friendly city. There are many banks with many ATMs. However, only about 50% of these accept foreign cards. The main foreign friendly ATMs are ATMs of Bank of China. Bank of China ATMs work in both Chinese and English (depending on your card), use the latest equipment, and are pretty easy to find. They do have a habit of being over-used though, so sometimes they are out of cash, receipts or whatever. Also, the connection to the overseas banking network tends to have a high down time. If you are told by a Bank of China machine that your transaction has been declined and to contact your bank, do not panic. This often just means that the International network is unavailable. You should try the other banks ATMs, China Merchants Bank ATMs, ICBC ATMs or China Construction Bank ATMs. When you put your foreign bank card into a Harbin ATM it should give you the option to display English, or display both Chinese and English. The ATMs in China dispense Chinese RMB currency. It will be converted to your home currency at a quite reasonable rate usually. The commission and transaction charges will be dependent upon your own bank's policies.
Counterfeit Money
Counterfeit money may be found in China and you may likely get counterfeit money as exchange from street vendors when you do shopping out on the street. Therefore, don't give big note money to street vendors. It is very common that shop and restaurant staff will carefully check your note when you pay. 
5: Telephone Calls
For direct dialing to China, the country code is 86. Major city codes: Harbin-10, Shanghai-21, Harbin-20, Xian-29. For other city codes, please contact telephone operator for assistance. Your China Hotel telephone operators can dial your home country numbers for you, but the cost is high. You may want to bring a calling card (AT&T, MCI etc.). Prepaid local phone cards are available at hotel shops or reception. All hotels in China offer international direct dialing phones at rooms. However, some hotels need a deposit before they provide this service. If you can not call international phones, you need to go hotel front desk and inform receptionists that you want to make international calls. After you pay a deposit, you will be able to call.
Cell Phone
There are three mobile carriers in China; China Mobile; China Unicom and China Telecom. China Mobile and China Unicom use GSM technology while China Telecom uses CDMA. Of the three, "China Mobile" boasts the biggest number of subscribers and the highest user penetration rate and China Mobile’s national network is the best. You can get access to GSM service of China Mobile everywhere in China, even in the remote areas of Western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Tibet Autonomous Region. Come to an authorized China Mobile Service Centre and purchase an Easyown SIM card, pop the SIM card into your mobile phone, dial 13800138000 to activate, hang up and you're ready to talk or text. You can buy an authentic China Mobile SIM card at any authorized newsstand or corner store, but China Mobile Service Centers usually sell them for much less; about 20 RMB (3 USD). China Mobile charges no monthly fees and no bills will be sent. To check how much time you can still call - dial its hotline 10086, key in the authorization code on the card and within seconds you'll receive a text telling you how much credit you have. You can check your balance anytime by dialing 10086 and following the English prompts. Each China Mobile branch (provincial level) sets its own Easyown fees and plans and the fees and services vary from region to region. Please check with your local China Mobile's Service Centre or call China Mobile bilingual operators at 10086. The operators can fully explain and initiate the plan that best suits your needs and phoning habits. The plan you join will come into effect on the first day of the following month. For Easyown customers there's an easy way to substantially reduce the cost of long distance calls. Simply add the prefix 12593 before you dial the complete number with area code. Adding this five-digit prefix also applies to international long distance. Dial 12593 before the complete international number and your long distance fee can drop to as low as 1.2 RMB per minute in total (including the normal outgoing call charge). Without the prefix, international long-distance can cost 8 RMB per minute plus the local outgoing call fee. The international toll is charged at six-second intervals.
Useful Telephone Numbers in Harbin
Fire: 119
Police: 110
Ambulance: 120
6: Medical Service
Most hotels have access to a doctor. They can also help guests buy medicine or, if necessary, go to the hospital. Below is a list of a few local hospitals and clinics catering to foreigners:
The 1st Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University
Add: No. 23 Youzheng St, Nangang District
Tel: +86-451-85556000
The 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University
Add: No.246, Xuefu Road, Nangang District
Tel: +86-451-86605222
No. 1 Hospital of Harbin
Add: No. 151, Diduan St, Daoli District.
Tel: +86-451-84883003
7: Water
Tap water at most hotels are not drinkable. Drink only bottled or boiled water. Tea is often provided free in hotel. Bottled water is widely available in all stores and street kiosks and sometimes provided free by the hotel. Made in-China mineral water is usually sold at around 3 yuan per bottle.
8: Laundry
It is hard to find laundry on the streets here in Harbin. There are also no coin-op laundromats. However, laundry services are available at most hotels. When you check-in hotel, you will find a laundry bag in your room with a price list. You may leave your clothes needed to be washed in the laundry bag. When you check-out hotel, you will be charged. Please be carefully about the laundry bag. Some hotels offer environmental friendly laundry bags which can be recycled. This kind of laundry bag is not free. One-day dry cleaning and ironing services are offered at better hotels. Quality of service and price vary.

9: Harbin Tourist Traps or Scams

Child Beggars
Some children will beg for money, sometimes even grabbing onto your legs until you pay them some money. There are reports that these children may have been kidnapped from other places specifically to be used for begging purposes. If you give money to child beggars, you may have the risk of getting a swarm of them. Just avoid those child beggars.
Last Updated on Monday, 28 October 2013 16:42  

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