How to survive winter in Dongbei

You’d like to study at Harbin Institute of Technology, but you are sensitive to the cold? Winter is making you change your mind on travelling Harbin and Shenyang? Come on!, do you really think low temperatures is a good reason to give up? After preparing some warm clothes and bracing yourself, cold won’t prevent you to enjoy this unusual region.

Dongbei – which includes Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces and the eastern part of Inner Mongolia – experiences 0° C temperatures and below from october to april, but Dongbei cold is different from, let’s say, southern Europe cold. Temperatures are definitely lower (the average lowest is between -25° C and -30° C), but, while southern Europe climate is humid, Dongbei climate is dry: that means -20° C in Jilin are much more tolerable than -5° C in Milan – once you know some tricks.

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A typical late March day in Chanchun.

Clothes

First: forget fashion once in China. No one really cares over there, and in Dongbei this will help you to survive winter.

Dressing up is the most important trick to protect yourself from low temperatures. And by dressing up I mean wearing:

  • undershirt or/and t-shirt; long sleeves shirt; sweater;
  • ankle socks; knee socks; panty socks and/or warm trousers; trousers;
  • a heavy padded jacket;
  • hat, scarf, very warm gloves;
  • boots.

All at once. You will look like Michelin’s mascot, but it will be worth it. Remember that hands and, most of all, feet get cold very quickly. Keep your hands in pocket as much as you can and wear as many pairs of socks as you need.

And be aware I’m sensitive to the warm.

Accessories

  • Carrying a backpack that allows you to keep your hands in pocket is way better than carrying a nice but uncomfortable bag.
  • Stalls and supermarkets sell warm “plasters” attachable to clothes. Buy lots of them, the duration written on the packages is often longer than the real one. Socks plasters were essential for me – but pay attention: the less you walk, the less they work.
  • Camel and sheep hairs soles are also sold pretty everywhere, most likely on stalls, and they help as well.
  • Forget mobile phones while you’re outside.

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Other tricks

  • Take a look at the forecast – if it will be really cold you may think about rescheduling your trip if possible – don’t you dare cancel a trip only because of low temperatures!
  • Plan your transfers before the departure: this will prevent you from spending plenty of time checking the map or looking for the right bus stop. How far is a monument from another one? How will you get there and how much time will it take? And always walk fast.
  • If your schedule allows it, spend time in warm places such as restaurants, malls, supermarkets, ecc., don’t rush in eating lunch and dinner and every now and then stop in cafés to drink something hot.
  • Get pile covers – it’s the best stuff to keep you warm during the night.
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