Planning a Trip
Flights connect Harbin with Beijing, Shanghai, Dalian, and Guangzhou; international routes include Hong Kong (daily), Seoul (daily), and Niigata (Mon, Wed, Fri, and Sun). The Taiping International Airport (Taiping Guoji Jichang) is 30km (19 miles) south of central Harbin. An ICBC booth next to the international departures area on the second floor exchanges traveler's checks and cash. The CAAC ticket office (Minhang Shoupiao Chu; tel. 0451/8265-1188; fax 0451/8231-9343; domestic 6am-9pm, international 8am-4pm) is in a large white tiled building with a red roof, 4km (2 1/2 miles) south of the railway station at Zhongshan Lu 99. An airport shuttle (50 min.; ¥20/$2.60/£1.30) leaves the CAAC office every 30 minutes from 6am to 6pm. Taxis to the airport from downtown (¥100/$13/£6.50), including ¥20 ($2.60/£1.30) toll, take between 40 minutes and an hour, depending on traffic. Leave early either way.
Harbin's main railway station (Ha'erbin Zhan) is on Tielu Jie, between Nangang and Daoli districts. Trains depart from here for Beijing (3:48pm; 8 hr.; ¥386/$50/£25), Dalian (9:04pm; 9 hr.; ¥231/$30/£15), Shenyang (six daily; 4 1/2-5 hr.; ¥76/$9.90/£4.95 hard seat; ¥139/$18/£9 hard sleeper), Qiqihar (10 daily; 2 1/2 hr.; ¥44/$5.70/£2.85), and Manzhouli (7:58pm; 14 hr.; ¥176/$23/£11). The ticket sales office is on the right side of the station (tel. 0451/8690-2828); tickets can be bought 5 days in advance. For tickets to Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, visit the Harbin Railway International Travel Service (Ha'erbin Tiedao Guoji Luxingshe; tel. 0451/8642-7735; open Mon-Fri 8am-5pm) on the seventh floor of the Kunlun Hotel, west of the main station. CITS (Xidazhi Jie 13, west of Hongbo Guangchang; tel. 0451/5366-1167; 8:30am-5:30pm) and the Heilong Jiang Overseas Tourist Company (Heilong Jiang Haiwai Luyou Gongsi; 11th floor of Hushi Dasha, on west side of railway station; tel. 0451/5363-4000; fax 0451/5362-1088) sell tickets for the Trans-Siberian Railroad (2 weeks to process).
The central long-distance bus station (Changtu Keyun Zhan) is across from the railway station, a building next to the Bei Bei Hotel. Luxury air-conditioned buses go to Qiqihar (4 hr.; ¥50-¥55/$6.45-$7.15/£3.20-£3.60) and Wu Da Lianchi (9am and 11:30am; 5 1/2 hr.; ¥55-¥69/$7.15-$9/£3.60-£4.50), and Changchun (3 1/2 hr.; ¥76/$9.90/£4.95). Regular buses go to Yanji (3:30pm; 9 hr.; ¥112/$15/£7.30) and Dalian (4:40pm; 13 hr.; ¥210/$27/£14). The ticket sales office is open from 5:30am to 6pm (luxury tickets at windows 7-11).
Nearly everything of interest falls into one of two old districts -- Daoli and Nangang -- divided by the train tracks that run past the main station. The Songhua Jiang (Sungari River) forms the city's northern border and divides it from Taiyang Dao, a new island development area that seeks to imitate Pudong in Shanghai.
Taxis cost ¥8 ($1.05/50p) for first 3km/2 miles, then ¥1.90 (25¢/15p) per kilometer. A number of useful buses (¥1-¥2/15¢-25¢/10p-15p) stop at the railway station; bus no. 13 goes from the station through the heart of Daoli.