Most people dream of tropical cruises and sunny resorts come wintertime, and if you don’t like the snow you’ll find numerous places in and around China to travel to (or live in) to escape winter. However, it’s worth taking advantage of China’s winter wonderlands at least to see the glory that Chinese winter has to offer. Here are a few of the most spectacular places in China to revel in a winter wonderland (either natural or, well, not).
Best of all, traveling to China is generally cheaper in the winter, so now’s the time to consider moving out there to teach and checking out some of these spectacular destinations:
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
Harbin is well-known for its annual International Ice and Snow Festival. The festival features snow sculptures and ice structures that are lit up really magnificently at night, as well as skiing, winter swimming, and more. While in Harbin you can slide down ice slides, carve ice lanterns, or just revel in the snowy paradise surrounding you.
And of course, don’t forget to enjoy some Harbin Beer while you’re there. As the home to China’s oldest brewery, Harbin is the perfect place to throw back a cold one in cold weather. This year’s Harbin Ice festival spans from December 24 to February 28.
Xiling Snow Mountain
If you’re a skier, you should definitely take a trip to Xiling Snow Mountain. Located in Sichuan Province not far from Chengdu, this resort offers skiing as well as snowmobiling, sledding, and more. While you’re in Xiling, you can also visit their hot springs, watch winter sports, or just walk through the beautiful landscape.
Don’t miss Yin Yang Ridge, where two different weather systems meet, creating a cloudy, mysterious landscape on one side of the mountain while the other side is clear as day. Because the mountain is Sichuan, you can also warm up after a cold day some signature “numbing spicy” Sichuan cuisine.
Yuanyang Rice Terraces
Located in Yunnan Province, this area is renowned for its natural beauty and for the ethnic minorities that live in it. In the winter months, seas of clouds roll over the rice paddies, making a truly singular sight. People also flock here to see the incredible sunrise and sunset. Additionally, the Hani hold an annual street festival in Luchun County, during which time you can walk down the street sampling local food and witnessing traditional Ham songs and dances.
Mohe: China’s North Pole
Mohe, a city in Heilongjiang, province, is China’s northernmost point. Located along China’s Russian border, it’s definitely off the beaten path. If you want a real taste of the North Pole, though, it’s worth the trip. Mohe is home to Beiji Village, which literally translates to “northernmost”. In Beiji Village you can take scenic walks, take in the crisp winter air, and enjoy some warming hot pot.
About an hour from Beiji is the Santa Claus House, where you can visit a bilingual Santa Claus even ride a one-horse-open sleigh! You can also visit a Christmas post office that attracted over one million tourists in 2016.
Be warned, though. With its near-Siberian location, Mohe is not for the faint of heart. If subarctic conditions sound unbearable to you, consider visiting in the summer. You’ll still be able to catch many of the town’s Christmas-themed attractions, and you may even get to see the aurora borealis!
Think Outside the Box
There are numerous snow and ice festivals scattered around China that are worth looking into. And if you’re more interested in escaping winter rather than embracing it, consider traveling south to Sanya, or taking an excursion to Thailand or Laos. Whether your idea of a perfect winter looks like the inside of a snowglobe or the view from a beach towel, you’ll find the perfect destination in China.