Harbin Ice & Snow Festival

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Way to Travel:
Guided Group
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Witness entire cities of snow and ice twist and carve their shapes on the landscape of the World Famous Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

The Harbin Ice Festival in northeast China's Heilongjiang province is truly one of the most awe inspiring spectacles on the planet. Entire cities of snow and ice twist and carve their shapes on the landscape, whilst artists from all over the world dream big and sculpt even bigger. As well as the festival there is time to trace the remnants of China's imperial past in Beijing's Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China and in Xi'an where we explore the Terracotta Army. There is also time to experience the fusion of eastern and western culture in ultra-modern Shanghai.


  • World's largest snow and ice festival
  • Terracotta Warriors
  • Explore Beijing and Shanghai

Key information

  • Travel by train, private minibus, and 1 internal flight
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • 10 nights comfortable hotels and 1 nights 1st class sleeper train, soft-bed berths
  • Fast paced itinerary

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 2 lunches
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (on request) (not including sleeper train)
  • Chinese Visa - GBP201 with Travcour or GBP151 plus GBP18 special delivery direct with embassy
  • Vaccinations
Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Shanghai

    There will be a welcome briefing this evening.
    Kingtown Hotel Plaza or similar

  • Day 2

    Morning city tour; afternoon free. Evening visit to Jinmao tower for night view

    This morning enjoy a guided tour of the waterfront area in Shanghai, known as the Bund. This iconic area still dominates the city's life and a stroll along the water is a 'must-do'. The guided tour also includes a trip to Nanjing Road (Shanghai's Oxford Street) and a visit to the tranquil Yuyan Gardens and Bazaar. The afternoon is free for your own exploration of the largest city in China, with a population of around twelve million. Though it no longer warrants the title 'Paris of the East', many of the vestiges of Shanghai's colonial past are still apparent. In the evening take a visit to the Jinmao tower (previously the tallest building in China) for a panoramic view of the city and enjoy a drink in the Cloud 9 bar.
    Kingtown Hotel Plaza or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Visit to Xitang water town; evening overnight sleeper train to Xi'an

    Today we will spend the day visiting the ancient water town of Xitang; famous for its cobbled streets and bridges arching over the many canals. There are several well-preserved buildings from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, and the town is a delightful place to explore on foot. We will take lunch here before the journey back to Shanghai (around 2 hours) where the evening will be free. In the evening we board an overnight train to the ancient city of Xi'an. It is recommended to buy food before the train as there is a limited selection provided on board. The train itself is of a good standard, although all facilities such as washrooms and toilets are shared with other passengers. Sleepers are four berth and bedding is provided.

    Overnight sleeper train

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Arrive Xi'an; afternoon walk through the Muslim quarter and calligraphy lesson

    Xi'an is one of China's former capitals and one of the few cities in China to have retained its city walls, probably because they are so massive that no revolutionary was willing to tackle the huge task of removing them. This afternoon we will take a walking tour around the city's Muslim quarter which boasts narrow twisted streets filled with shops selling the local produce of Shaanxi Province, and cafes offering some of the most delicious snacks in China! Then on to a caligraphy lesson with a chance to learn about Chinese Art through the ages and try your hand at a few simple characters.
    Skytel Hotel or similar

  • Day 5

    Terracotta Warriors tour

    Today we visit the famous Terracotta Warriors of Emperor Qin. Originally four armies were planned, at each point of the compass, life-size and lifelike. Three have been found and it is assumed the emperor's successors decided enough was enough before the fourth was begun. The first pit excavated had an estimated 6,000 figures in its one army. The third pit has been opened to the public, which contains the 'command post' for the entire operation. This is one of China's great tourist attractions, and some people may find the sheer numbers of visitors rather overpowering. Lunch today is a delicious farmer's lunch; lots of seasonal vegetables, generally chicken and beef, served with homemade bread and noodles.
    Skytel Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Morning bullet train to Beijing (6 hrs); afternoon walking tour of Hutongs

    This morning we take the bullet train over to Beijing. The high-speed line opened at the end of 2012 and reduces the time it takes to travel to Beijing from 13 hours to 6! Far from just being a busy metropolis, Beijing is home to some of the greatest historical treasures in China that stand testament to the Emperor's status and influence during the dynastic period. In the afternoon we take a walking tour of the city's hutongs (narrow alleys) to discover what is left of old Beijing and its traditions. There will be some free time later this afternoon and evening, either to visit the trendy 798 art district, shop on the famous Wangfujing Street, enjoy some ice skating on Houhai lake (weather dependent), or just relax in our hotel.
    Dongfang Hotel or similar

    Dongfang Hotel
    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Visit to Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City

    The sightseeing today will include the Forbidden City with its innumerable courtyards and temples, and the Temple of Heaven Park in the southern part of the city. We also visit Tiananmen square, the largest square in the world and able to hold over a million people. This afternoon is free; we recommend a visit to the Summer Palace, a huge park dotted with impressive pavilions and temples just outside the city which, like the Forbidden City, was once the exclusive playground of China's emperors and their concubines.
    Dongfang Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Transfer to Mutianyu for Great Wall of China visit

    We leave the capital and head into the countryside to the Great Wall, an approx. 2 hour journey to the north of the city. We go to one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall at Mutianyu which is an impressive sight, snaking across mountains and valleys into the distance. This section of the Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. The wall here is upto 8.5 metres high and 5 metres wide, and has 22 watchtowers on its 2,250 metre-long stretch. There are some steep steps to navigate and clients who suffer from vertigo may find it challenging, (there is an optional cable car). There is the option of seeing an acrobatic or Kung Fu show or a trip to the opera this evening in Beijing.
    Dongfang Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Morning flight to Harbin; afternoon walking tour of Central Avenue and St. Sophia church

    This morning we leave Beijing and take a 2 hour flight north to the city of Harbin, in Heilongjiang province. Harbin is known across the world for the very reason you are visiting; the spectacular Ice and Snow festival which is held there for a month every winter. The region's arctic climate provides an abundance of ice and snow, and the tradition of ice lanterns (from which the festival stems) dates back to the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911) when the local people and fisherman often made and used ice lanterns during the winter months. This afternoon we take a walking tour to discover the Russian architecture and influence in the city, starting with the pretty cobbled Central Street, and ending with the St. Sophia Cathedral which was built in 1907 after the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1903, which connected Vladivostok to north-east China.
    Harbin Post Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Harbin ice and snow festival; evening ice sculpture exhibition

    Harbin Ice festival is probably the most prestigious festival featuring ice and snow sculptures, often showcasing life size characters, world famous buildings or recreating famous stories. In 2015, there was an ice Kremlin, super-sized Chinese fisherman and a seated Buddha to name a few. The sheer size and scale of the sculptures plus the detailed and elaborate lighting makes the whole festival incredibly unique and a wondrous place to visit!

    Today, we will be transferred to the Sun Island scenic area, on the north bank of the Songhua River, to visit the Snow Sculpture Expo. This huge competition area is an incredible place to just walk round and appreciate the work that has gone in to creating the elaborate ice and snow structures. After the visit, (approx. 2 hours) we’ll go back to the hotel for a rest before we head to the Ice and Snow World. The sun sets very early in the winter in Harbin, so you will get to see some of the most amazing ice sculptures lit up in the dark. Truly “Frozen”!
    Harbin Post Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Bullet train to Beijing (8 hrs)

    Today we leave Harbin and take the bullet train back to Beijing in the morning. The train takes 8 hours, and we arrive into Beijing late afternoon, leaving time for a final farewell dinner (not included).
    Dongfang Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    End Beijing

    For those on the group flight to London the flight is in the afternoon, with a same day arrival into London in the evening.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info



Nearly all nationalities require a visa to enter China, which must be obtained prior to departure. The Chinese authorities now require a letter from Exodus, confirming all your accommodation details. Along with this, you need to supply a copy of your flight details, which are on your invoice if you have booked directly through Exodus. For further information see here. It is also essential that we have a clear copy of the details page of your passport. This is required to book certain ground services in China and we cannot confirm your details with our local partners until it has been received. This must be emailed as an electronic scan to [email protected] a minimum of 8 weeks prior to your trip.

IMPORTANT: Please note that as of the 1st November 2018, all visa applicants aged between 14 and 70 will need to visit one of the Chinese Visa Application Service Centres (appointment required) where biometric data will be taken as part of the visa application process.



There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

If your trip visits Hong Kong, dengue fever is a known risk - this is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten: apply insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers.

Eating and Drinking

One of the major draws of China is its exciting and varied cuisine. On this trip you will be able to try many different dishes that will be carefully selected with your leaders help and based on the group's dietary requirements and preferences. Meals generally consist of shared dishes, which is the best way to experience as many different ingredients as possible and try things you might not have ordinarily chosen! Examples of popular dishes include Ma Po Tofu, a delicious tofu dish made with beef, chillies and onion, Gong Bao chicken, a very popular dish with chilli and peanuts, the iconic Peking Duck, served with hoisin sauce and pancakes, and dumplings in many shapes and sizes. Up in the north of China you can expect lots of ginger and honey flavours, and some Russian influences. There are many different dishes to try and the leader will always try and accommodate tastes, but if you do tire of Chinese food there are always opportunities to eat Western-style dishes in the cities you visit. For vegetarians or those with dietary requirements, many of the traditional dishes can be amended to omit the meat products.


The winter months in China are cold, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. However you are almost guaranteed dry sightseeing, although in Shanghai there could be some light rain. Snow can frequently fall, especially the further north you travel, so expect it in Harbin. In Shanghai it will be between 1 to 8 deg C, Xi'an will be -4 to 5 deg C, Beijing -9 to 2 deg C and Harbin can reach -4 to -13 deg C (without wind chill).

Is this trip for you?

The trip is rated as Grade 1: Leisurely

This holiday is designed around the Ice and Snow festival in Harbin, giving you an opportunity to see one of the word's most spectacular and unique festivals first hand. There is a lot to see in the time you are there, and the distances covered are large, but everything is scheduled so that it doesn't feel too rushed.

You should come armed for an experience: China can be hard work and the bustle of some of the cities can sometimes be a little overwhelming. That said, there are places where you can find peace and quiet. The temperature will be cold at this time of year, especially in the far north, but it is generally a dry time to visit. As long as you dress appropriately you will find this area of China a delightful place to visit; away from the oppressive heat and the crowds that the summer can bring. The hotels will be warm and cosy and are in a convenient enough location to return to warm up in the afternoon before going out again.

Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Hotels and overnight train

In all the cities, we stay in good, tourist class hotels with twin rooms and private facilities. Nearly all the hotels are locally rated as 3 star. Wherever possible we use hotels in a good location so that you may explore on your own without having to travel long distances to get to points of interest: this is especially important in big cities like Xi'an, Shanghai and Beijing where many hotels are miles away from anything of interest. In Xi'an our hotel is a 5 min walk to South Gate of the city walls and the Muslim Quarter while in Shanghai we are relatively centrally located, and in Beijing walking distance to Tiananmen Square.

Train journeys: The overnight train will be booked in soft-sleeper class A/C, sleepers are four berth and bedding is provided. There are many excellent trains in China and the standard of seating and sleeping is usually in line with European standards. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Snacks are often offered on board (at an additional cost) but you may wish to purchase your own food prior to the journey.

Call for general departures:
+356 21423994
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on +356 21423994