Authored by Laura Clear
Jilin is a northeastern Chinese province bordering Russia and North Korea, and while it may not be the first place you think to go when you think of China, come winter it is a destination full of superlatives; of ski resorts, natural hot springs, and stunning ice-rimmed riverside trees.
For those travelers looking for a destination which offers an incredible winter wonderland, and lengthy period of winter snow, this is the place to be. From October to April, Jilin is transformed into a truly magical destination with mesmerising natural wonders you have to see to believe.
From a stunning, deep-blue volcanic crater lake within the country’s largest reserve, to China’s extraordinary frozen fog, the following are 7 reasons to spend this winter among the wonders of Jilin.
7 Reasons You Should Spend Winter Among the Wonders of Jilin
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Floating pagoda photo credit: Andreea Mitrea
When you’re planning a trip to China, skiing and snowboarding probably aren’t the first thing on your list. In fact it’s probably not on your list at all. But maybe it should be.
With the Winter Olympics scheduled for China in 2022, ski resorts and snowfields across the country are seeing huge upgrades, and there’s never been a better time to hit the slopes.
With pristine white slopes, Jilin’s ski resorts are also a fantastic way to admire some truly dazzling views. Water droplets freezing in fog over the landscape makes the air glisten which is truly a wonder to behold. Songhua Hu, and Changbaishan Ski Resort are two you shouldn’t miss.
Natural Hot Springs
There is no possible way to visit Jilin without making your way into a hot spring. It’s quite incredible how two extremes in temperature (-24 degrees celsius outside and 42 degrees celsius water) combines to provide the perfect environment for a dip.
“Sunrise at the Shennong Hot Springs is particularly beautiful. This place is truly magical at every time of the day, but it was worth the 6am wakeup to see the sky turn soft pink over frosted trees and the hot water steam in the minus degrees.” – Niki Csanyi
Named as one of China’s top four natural wonders (or four “miracles”) alongside the dramatic landscapes of Guilin, the stone forest in Yunnan, and Three Gorges on the Yangtze River, Wusong Island is one of the most popular scenic spots in China. It boasts beautiful rime scenery; an ice-covered wonderland of flowers and trees popularly known as frost flowers or ice-rimmed trees.
Rime occurs when water droplets in fog freeze onto objects they touch. Though it attaches differently from snow and ice causing a very unique coating on the plants and trees. Elsewhere this is a rare occurrence, but the unique environmental conditions in Jilin make it an annual event. For rime to occur, it needs a combination of a below freezing temperature, sufficient airborne moisture and clear skies overhead; Wusong Island is embraced by water on all sides.
The landscape appears lost in a deep frost which is absolutely stunning to see; a fascinating crystal fairyland with jade trees and sliver flowers. This occurs from late November to early March.
Changbai mountain is is a volcanic mountain, and one of the greatest natural attractions in Jilin. It offers postcard worthy landscapes, and the 2 million year old Lake Tianchi (Heavenly Lake) with truly stunning views.
Actually a mountain range, it is especially beautiful in winter, and there are several stops for exploring unspoiled nature along the way. The mountain has several peaks, as well as beautiful waterfalls, amazing hot springs and marvellous lakes.
The view from any of Mount Changbai’s 16 tallest peaks is intoxicating, while the view from Tianbao Peak especially makes you feel that you are standing on the roof of the world.
Another of Jilin’s most scenic spots, this is a giant frozen lake, complete with beautiful snow covered trees and spongy snow.
There’s something surreal about walking through the snow surrounded by a forest of gorgeous white trees. A winter wonderland is there ever was one, you’ll not find a more picture perfect winter landscape than this!
Snow selfie photo credit: Hasnain Naqvi
Dunhua City also known as the city of happiness. It is full of vibrant colors which are absolutely spectacular against a winter backdrop of ice and snow. It’s impossible not to be captivated and amazed by the beauty which surrounds you here.
The city is watched over by the worlds first Big Buddah. 48 meters in height, it is the biggest Buddha statue in the North East.
Walking up towards the temple takes around 20 to 30 minutes and is highly recommended as, not only will you be able to enter the giant buddha statue which itself inside is its own site, but you will also have fantastic views of the whole of Dunhua.
Jilin Rime Ice and Snow Festival
The Jilin Rime Ice and Snow Festival has become a unique festival in north China which is themed to celebrate China’s extraordinary frozen fog (rime). Held annually since 1991 and sponsored by Jilin Provincial Tourism Administration and Jilin municipal government, this year’s festival is held from December 18, 2016 to the end of February, 2017.
Activities in the festival are rich and colorful. Tourists can enjoy skiing, sledding, and driving snow mobiles throughout Jilin’s ski resorts, as well as visiting all of the above Jilin attractions and destinations.
Tips For Winter Travel to Jilin
The closest airport is Changchun Longjia International Airport, which handles domestic flights as well as oversea routes from Seoul and Tokyo. Ctrip.com is the best travel site for China vacation packages.
Pack appropriate clothing for the extreme low temperatures and dress warmly.
Travel with sun protection; you can easily get sunburnt in the snow. UV radiation can be more intense in higher alpine regions, meaning more risk of getting burnt. Protect your skin, make sure you pack/wear protective clothing, including a hat/beanie, use water-resistant sunscreen (at least SPF30+) and wear sunglasses / goggles to protect your eyes.
Travel with extra camera batteries as these quickly run flat in low temperatures. If you attach a heating pad to your camera this will help resist the cold. You can also travel with your technology in a ziplock bag so that then lens and screen’s don’t fog up.
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