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Cool Runnings

Yang Feiyue
Updated: Jun 13,2016 9:52 AM     China Daily

A turn of the Heilong River, known as the “First Turn of the Longjiang River”, in the Greater Hinggan Mountains area. [Photo/China Daily]

Xiang Shuangshuang believes China’s northernmost province, Heilongjiang, is a cool place to beat the heat of Beijing’s hottest months.

In every sense.

Her upcoming trip will be time spent in greener pastures.

In every sense.

“I look forward to exploring verdant forests and wetlands,” she says.

“But the main reason I’m going is cooler weather.”

Xiang enjoyed her 2009 visit as a university student. She’s hoping for deja vu.

“It was a cool place to hike,” she says.

“You need a quilt at night.”

She was impressed by Harbin’s architecture, Wudalianchi’s hot springs and Yichun’s woodlands.

Heilongjiang is typically touted as a winter wonderland.

Deservingly.

But it also offers special summer sojourns.

Again, weather is the boon in both cases.

The provincial capital took the top spot in a 2014 report on domestic summer destinations jointly released by the China Meteorological Administration and the China Tourism Academy.

Summers average 20 C.

Consequently, the province announced five new routes in early May for this summer.

They feature volcanoes, wetlands, China’s easternmost and northernmost points, forests and urban fun.

“Visitors can configure these routes according to preference,” says the Heilongjiang tourism authority’s director, Xi Dongguang.

China CYTS Tours Holding Co will focus on ecotourism to develop products with such themes as resorts, leisure, health and family fun, says the company’s chairman, Kang Guoming.

Three special routes have been designed for the elderly, says Heilongjiang tourism authority’s deputy director, Hou Wei.

Daytrips are daydreams developers hope come true.

The provincial government has teamed up with major online travel brands to cultivate itineraries that take travelers out but bring them home by bedtime.

Beiji village, China’s northernmost point. [Photo/China Daily]

Heilongjiang’s easternmost route integrates wetlands and the culture they saturate.

Fuyuan’s museum showcases the province’s history. Visitors can experience the Russian influences upon its border culture, Xi says.

The government is planning to make full use of its wetlands, woodlands and border culture, says Xi.

Forests cover 220,000 square kilometers, which is roughly equivalent to the size of the Korean Peninsula. Wetlands soak 55,000 square kilometers, which equates roughly to the size of Croatia.

Mohe county’s Beiji village is the only place in China where visitors can view the aurora borealis.

Yaoquan town’s Wudalianchi nature reserve contains 14 volcanoes and five lakes.

It won the Michel Batisse Award at the Fourth World Congress of Biosphere Reserves in Lima, Peru, in March. (UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program bestows the award.)

Mudanjiang city’s Jingpo Lake is the world’s second-biggest volcanic barrier lake, after Switzerland’s Lake Geneva. The 300-meter-wide Diaoshuilou Waterfall that crashes 20 meters into Jingpo is the world’s biggest basalt cascade.

Harbin’s music and wetland festivals, Yichun’s international forest-ecology tourism festival and Mohe’s aurora borealis festival will be staged this summer.

Dozens of marathons and hiking events have been planned, Xi says.

Road trips from Fuyuan to Mohe will be organized along the Chinese-Russian border by the province and Jeep, one of China’s biggest cross-country driving clubs.

“Heilongjiang is an amazing place to drive,” Xi says.

“We have vast landscapes. You can drive a while without seeing another car.”

The Jiayin Dinosaurs Geological Park. [Photo/China Daily]

Tourism has surged since Heilongjiang initiated summertime itineraries last year.

Roughly 80 million people visited scenic spots last summer, 21 percent more than in 2014. A 15 percent increase is expected this year, Xi says.

The provincial rail administration opened a new tourism line from Harbin to Heihe in May.

The longest railway line in China also connects the province’s Qiqihar to Urumqi. It crosses eight provinces and the city of Tianjin before arriving in the capital of Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

A high-speed railway also connects Harbin to Liaoning province’s capital, Shenyang, and Jilin province’s capital, Changchun.

Eleven airports link Heilongjiang to major cities across the country, as well as Russia, South Korea and the United States.

New airports at Suifenhe, Wudalianchi and Jiansanjiang will start operations soon.

They’ll open up less-known but worthwhile sites like Jiansanjiang, an agritourism destination.

Xiang, for one, plans to drive around the Greater Hinggan Mountains.

“I want to explore and shoot photos deep in the forest, and bring home some special foods found on the mountainside,” she says.

She hopes to also hop aboard a hot-air balloon to float over the Nanwang River.

That, indeed, would be cool.

Cranes with their chicks at the Zhalong Nature Preserve. [Photo/China Daily]

New seasonal itineraries

Heihe-Qiqihar-Daqing

Visitors can explore unique volcanoes and wetlands at Wudalianchi and Zhalong Nature Preserve, and enjoy health-and-fitness experiences in Daqing’s hot springs. Russian culture can be experienced at the Heihe-Blagoveshchensk border.

Fuyuan-Hulin-Mishan-Jiamusi-Mudanjiang

Visitors can travel to China’s easternmost point-Heixiazi Island-and Fuyuan’s Wusu town. Khabarovsk features Russian culture. Hulin hosts the Hutou Fort.

A museum in Mishan chronicles the development of the northern region’s wilderness. Jiamusi shows modern agriculture alongside ancient fishing and hunting culture. Mudanjiang has Jingpo Lake and crater forests.

Yichun

Visitors can hike Tangwanghe-China’s first approved national park-and China’s biggest and best-preserved primitive Korean pine forest. The Jiayin Dinosaurs Geological Park is where the country’s first dinosaur fossil was found.

Mohe

Visitors can travel to Beiji village-China’s northernmost point-and savor Songyuan’s primitive woodlands. The aurora borealis and polar daytime phenomena are highlights.

Harbin

Music and beer carnivals offer chances to party. Visitors can see the Manchurian tiger-breeding facility and enjoy Russian performances and food at Volga Manor.

The Russian-style St. Sophia Cathedral in Harbin. [Photo/China Daily]

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