When you think of winter, your mind will most likely stray to the European continents.
But what many might not know is that you can see some of the acclaimed sights like the Northern Lights without needing to travel that far.
At the most northern part of China is a province called Heilongjiang (translated to ‘Black Dragon River’).
It shares a border with Russia, which explains the latter’s influence to the province in terms of their architecture, food, and culture.
Heilongjiang is known to be one of the coldest areas in China when winter comes. During this season, many hidden gems emerge that transform the province into a true frozen paradise.
Here are 7 parts in Heilongjiang that will make you want to escape the Malaysian heat and indulge in these winter wonders.
1) See the Aurora Borealis at Mohe’s North Pole Village.
Seeing the famous Northern Lights is something on many traveller’s bucket list. Generally, countries in Europe such as Norway and Switzerland are common hotspots to see the Aurora Borealis.
But you don’t have to travel over 2,000km to see it.
Nestled in the north part of Mohe is the North Pole Village (Beijicun) where you’ll not only be able to see the Northern Lights, you’ll get to experience Polar Day too (when the midnight sun will be visible for 22 hours during the day).
The best time to see this is during the summer solstice and it is the only place in Asia where you’ll be able to see it.
The North Pole Village in itself is an interesting place. People have also dubbed it as the “home of Santa Claus” because over here, every day feels like Christmas. There will actually be a Santa Claus walking about for tourists to take photos with.
You can do other activities such as sleigh riding, skiing and or just building snowmen here too. The singing is optional.
2) Sip the restorative waters of Wudalian Chi.
Wudalian Chi (five connected lakes) is considered one of the most beautiful landscapes in China and with good reason.
The area is formed by volcanic explosions and is a wonderland of hardened lava, volcanic peaks, reed-lined ponds and azure lakes. There are many picturesque spots you can stop by when you take a stroll around.
In the middle is the Wudalian Chi Natural Reserve which includes forest, arable land, pasture, and wetland.
The reserve houses one of the best three cold springs in the world, attracting many Chinese and Russians to come here and take a sip of the so-called curative water.
3) Ski on beautiful slopes at the Yabuli Ski Resort.
Heilongjiang has its own impressive ski resort that has even hosted the 1996 Asian Winter Games.
Yabuli Ski Resort is the biggest ski resort in China and is composed of three ski resorts with over 10 hotels ranging from basic guesthouses to luxury hotels.
There are 11 slopes geared for beginners to advanced levels of skiing, with 9 ski lifts that ferry skiers constantly. Many people have said getting up there is half the fun because one of the ski lifts gives you a beautiful view of the ridges and ravines, looking out over a forest of snow-clad trees.
The skiing season at Yabuli Ski Resort begins in mid-November and runs until the end of March.
4) Have rare cranes fly over you at Zhalong Nature Reserve.
The Zhalong Nature Reserve houses hundreds of bird species including storks, geese, swans, ducks and herons. But what it really is famous for is cranes.
In fact, it is known as the ‘Land of the Cranes’. There are only 15 species of cranes in the world and the reserve is home to 6 of them.
What you can look out for is the scheduled flights of the extremely rare red-crowned cranes—only 2,000 of them exist worldwide. You can experience these cranes flying just a few feet above your head when standing on the wooden viewing platforms.
5) Jump on a one-horse open sleigh at Mudanjang.
Located in the east of Mudanjang City is a quaint town known as Snow Village (Xuexiang). It boasts the longest period of snowing in China which is 7 months.
The snow in Xuexiang is quite unique as it is quite “sticky”, thus making it one of the best snow spots in China.
Some of the activities you can do in Xuexiang include alpine sleigh rides, horse-driven sledges, seeing a snow carved city, going through a snow maze, playing with snow and so on.
If you’re lucky, you could even catch a skiing performance by the National Skiing Team as many excellent skiers of national and world level makes this village their training base.
6) Find your reflection at Jingpo Lake.
The name Jingpo Lake translates to “Mirror Lake”, so you can roughly guess the amazing view you’d be seeing.
The name comes from the azure lake that was formed 10,000 years ago when volcanic eruptions in the region blocked the flow of the Mudanjiang River.
The northern side of the river cascades down the Diaoshuilou Falls, a 40-meter waterfall formed by the lake.
What makes this lake famous is the craggy limestone cliffs and its clear waters that contain 40 types of fish and fresh water coral.
7) Experience the Ice & Snow festival at Harbin.
Harbin is the capital and largest city of Heilongjiang, but it is also known to have the most bitter cold winters in China, giving it the name ‘Ice City’.
Because of this, it hosts an annual festival called the “Ice and Snow Festival” where you can experience the largest and most beautiful ice and snow sculpture park in China dubbed “The Ice Disneyland”.
You’ll find huge blocks of ice transformed into various sculptures and buildings being lit from within to create an illusion of glittering lights of ice. Think Elsa’s castle from the Disney movie, Frozen.
The park is only available from late December to February and gives one heck of a view at night.
The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway
So who said that you needed to travel to a different continent just to experience some winter wonders?
What’s best is that you only need to take a train from Mohe or any other parts of the Heilongjiang province in China to see all these amazing sights.
Or you could opt to fly around because each of these cities offer direct flights, with China Eastern Airlines being one of the main carriers.
Headquartered in Shanghai, China Eastern is the second biggest airline in China since 1957. The airline now owns 610 aircraft and as a member of Skyteam, they fly to over 1052 destination in 177 countries.
You can also travel to the Heilongjiang province and choose from over 10 airports to land from Mohe to Harbin (Do note that certain flights are seasonal and may not be available all year round).
You can find out more information about the flights here or contact the China Eastern Airlines Kuala Lumpur Sales office at 03-21611666.
This article was brought to you by China Eastern Airlines.
Feature Image Credit: synotrip.com