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Ice Sculpture Sleigh Ride, Harbin

Highlights

Enormous illuminated ice sculptures, spectacular snow sculptures, majestic Siberian tigers, Russian architecture, Snow Country, the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, Peking Opera, acrobats, cooking school, Northeastern cuisine.

Duration: 14 days
Start: Beijing
End: Harbin
Maximum Group Size: 18
Style: mid-range
Cost: $TBA (land only, all inclusive based on double occupancy)

Join travel writer, Rick Green, and photographer, Brian Smith, for a Manchurian Winter Wonderland adventure in Beijing and Harbin, capital of China's northeastern-most province. You'll be amazed by the frozen gallery of larger-than-life ice lanterns and snow sculptures in the hundreds; impressed by the grace and beauty of the Siberian tiger; and intrigued by Harbin's Russian heritage. The Great Wall and the classic sights of Beijing will be transformed by a tranquil winter coat that few tourists experience. This year, celebrate winter like no other.

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Beijing
Hotel transfer/check-in; rest of day free.

Day 2 Beijing
Visit the Mao Zedong Mausoleum/Memorial Hall and see Tian'anmen Square. Explore the Forbidden City, home of the Manchu emperors of the Qing Dynasty, and see a Peking Opera performance in the evening.

Day 3 Beijing
Day trip to the Great Wall of China at Jinshanling where the wall snakes along the crest of undulating hills at a section that is far less touristed. We then reward ourselves with a classy Peking Duck dinner.

Day 4 Beijing
Visit the Drum and Bell towers, see the traditional drum ceremony announcing the time, and take a hutong tour in the surrounding neighbourhood. Explore Yonghe Gong, the former national headquarters for lama administration under the Qianlong emperor, a follower of Tibetan Buddhism. Celebrate New Year's Eve with a special dinner.

Day 5 Beijing
See the Temple of Heaven which hosted Ming and Qing emperors for their annual harvest prayer ceremonies. Visit nearby Buddhist and Daoist temples for comparison. Enjoy a stunning performance by top Chinese acrobats.

Day 6 Beijing
Explore the sprawling grounds of the Summer Palace, then stroll along Malian Dao, a kilometre-long street of shops offering the very best of Chinese teas.

Day 7 Harbin
Fly to Harbin; hotel transfer/check-in; day & evening free.

Day 8 Harbin
Visit the Unit 731 Bacteriological War Crimes Museum, then see winter swimming and performances. Stroll along Zhongyang Dajie, Asia's longest pedestrian street, with its Russian architecture, shops, and restaurants.

Day 9 Harbin
See the snow sculptures at Sun Island, then view the Siberian tigers at the Heilongjiang Northeast Tiger Forest Park. Join the opening ceremonies of the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival.

Day 10 Shuang Feng Forest
Travel to Snow Country at Shuang Feng Forest where there is snow for seven months of the year. We will stay overnight in a traditional forestry village.

Day 11 Harbin
Return to Harbin in the afternoon where we will have a Russian dinner evocative of the large Russian community that used to reside here before the end of the Chinese Civil War.

Day 12 Harbin
Spend the day at cooking school learning about Dongbei (Northeast) cuisine.

Day 13 Harbin
Explore Harbin's Russian heritage at St. Sophia Cathedral and Central Street. See the winter activities in Stalin Park and the Flood Control Monument commemorating the disastrous flooding of the Songhua River in 1957 and 1998. Visit Ji Le Temple, the largest active Buddhist temple in China's Northeast.

Day 14 Harbin
Return to Vancouver via Beijing.

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