Jilin (吉林; Jílín) is situated within Northeastern China (Manchuria). The Han Chinese name "Jilin" comes from the original Manchurian name Kirim Ula, which means along the river. Just like the name, the biggest attraction of this city is the Sungari River - in Han Chinese, Songhua River. The meaning of Sungari River is "white river."
Jilin has a population of 1.3 million people. The Songhua River winds through the city, splitting it into several districts. The city was originally a fortress, and it was an important ship building city during the Qing Dynasty. During World War II, the city was taken by Russia and has never fully recovered from the damage caused by the occupation. Now it is a growing industrial city with some small, interesting attractions, especially in the winter. Most importantly, it serves as a staging point for travel to Changbaishan National Nature Reserve.
The nearest airport is Changchun Longjia International Airport (长春龙嘉国际机场 IATA: CGQ)  some 65km away. The facilities are very modern and up to Western standards; there are banks and various shops. Credit cards are accepted by the airlines.
There are direct international fights to Seoul, South Korea; Vladivostok, Russia; and Tokyo, Japan. However, travelling by air is expensive. A regular single to Beijing costs ¥940, over 4 times the cost of a rail ticket, although you can get a discount sometimes.
The new high-speed train covers the distance from Longjia airport to Jilin City in 30 minutes, and runs approximately every hour during the day (¥24). There is also a coach service from the airport to Jilin City approximately four times per day (¥20-30). A taxi ride may cost around ¥200, including highway fees.
Trains arrive at Jilin Railway Station (吉林站; Jílínzhàn). The new high-speed rail corridor has reduced travel times to Beijing and destinations in the northeast greatly. The shortest trip time to and from these popular destinations are as follows:
Jilin City's bus system is cheap and convenient, and most of the buses in the urban area charge only ¥1 no matter where you go. However, some buses become very crowded in the rush hour and you need to keep an eye on your valuables.
There are many taxis in the city, and you can easily take one everywhere if you are in the urban area. All taxis charge a starting fee of ¥5 and an additional ¥2 per kilometer after the first 2.5km. If you want to take a round-trip, the additional charge is ¥1.2 per kilometer. Unlike most cities in China, taxi drivers in Jilin are scrupulously honest, always use the meter (except outside the train station), and never drive you in circles. Fractions of yuan are rounded down under .5, and rounded up .5 and over. For example, ¥5.30 on the meter will cost you ¥5.00; ¥5.60 will cost you ¥6.00. As of September 2011, there is an additional ¥1 fuel surcharge for all trips.
Ice-rimmed Trees, (Along Songhua River). January and February. This is a natural phenomenon which occurs when warm water from the river meets the cold winter air, forming ice crystals on the trees. The phenomenon is considered one of the four major natural wonders of China (along with the mountains and lakes of Guilin, Stone Forest of Yunnan, and Three Gorges of Yangtze River). You need to get up early to see this as it disappears by 7am and is best seen on Wusong Island, a 2hr drive from the city.edit
Confucius Temple Museum (吉林文庙博物馆; Jílín Wénmiào Bówùguǎn), Songjiang East Road (松江东路; Sōngjiāngdōnglù) (Bus 13). This is the largest Confucius temple in Manchuria. Originally built in 1736 but replaced by the present one in 1909, it includes an exhibition on the Qing Dynasty imperial examination system. There is a modern Confucius sculpture in front of the main buildings. Unfortunately, if you have seen some old photos of this temple, you would probably feel sad when visiting it. Around the temple, there are a lot of tall buildings which completely destroy the original atmosphere. To make things worse, the noise from the nearby highway is extremely annoying. And the people who work in the temple know extremely little about the temple and why such a temple was constructed in this place. The best way to learn some history of this temple is to hire a guide from the local CITS office.¥10. edit
Catholic Church (天主教堂; Tiānzhǔjiàotáng), Songjiang Middle Road (松江中路; Sōngjiāngzhōnglù). edit This is an active church with a few dedicated nuns. To visit this church is a way to escape from the contemporary modern money-oriented city for a time. The interior design of this church is similar to that of modern churches which were built in Scandinavia during the early 20th century. There is a very small library inside, with Bibles mainly in Chinese and a few in Russian.
Meteorite Museum (吉林陨石博物馆; Jílín Yǔnshí Bówùguǎn), 100 Jilin Avenue (吉林大街100号; Jílíndàjiē) (Bus 3), ☎ +86 432 4681979, . 9AM-4:30PM. Shows the largest extant meteorite in the world and you may touch a smaller one.¥20. edit
Zhuque Mountain (朱雀山; Zhūquèshān; lit. Rosefinch Mountain). Temples, hiking and the local ski area.edit
The Picking Moon Pavilion at Beishan Park
Beishan Park (北山公园; Běishāngōngyuán; lit. North Hill Park), Desheng Road (德胜路; Déshènglù) (Bus 7), ☎ +86 432 5078553. 6:30AM-5:30PM. This large park is a good place to see lotus flowers in the summer and ice-rimmed trees in the winter. The park features lakes where you can go boating and also some small mountains. Scattered around the park is a number of temples and other buildings.¥5. edit
Longtan Mountain Park (龙潭山公园; Lóngtánshāngōngyuán; lit. Dragon Pool Moutain Park), (East of Jilin), ☎ +86 432 3093384. 7:30AM-5:30PM. Site of the ancient Kingdom of Gaojuli.¥5. edit
Century Square (世纪广场 Shiji Guangchang), (Jilin Dajie imm. south of Jilin Bridge). Public Square. Locals come to skate (skate and skateboard hire shops avail.), or sit and people watch.edit
Ice Lantern Festival (Bingdeng Jie). Mid-January. edit
Beidahu Skiing Ground. Has a long snowing season, and is a renowned skiing ground in China. Snow sports section of the 6th Asian Winter Games was held there.edit
Hutong life in downtown Jilin
Explore. Jilin is far more pleasant and manageable than most of the cities in Dongbei (Northeast China). Spend a day wandering around the (largely rebuilt) hutongs, clustered between the river to the south, railway tracks to the north, Tianjin Jie to the east, and Bei Da Jie to the west. Stumble upon scrumptious snacks and small temples and mosques.edit
Ginseng — used as natural medicine, one of the Three Northeast Treasures.
Marten — fur used for clothing, one of the Three Northeast Treasures.
Pilose antler — from sika deer or wapiti, used as natural medicine and considered to be helpful against a great variety of weaknesses, one of the Three Northeast Treasures. They are produced from a number of large deer farms in and around Jilin.
Yangmazi Da Bing, (Jiefang Road at Dongchang Street, across from the Jiangcheng Press building). Feast on delicious family-style dishes and a wide variety of the eponymous flat breads (Da Bing). With beer, a meal will cost less than 30RMB.edit
Mom's house (妈妈家), (Jiefang Road north of Liaobei Road). As you might expect, dishes are traditional family style at this bright, loud, smoky, home-style restaurant. The difference from many places in Jilin are the sheer quality of the dishes, and the location ensures enough foreign patrons that you won't encounter any staring squads or over-curious waiters.edit
Xiang Rui Chuan Dian, (Changjiang Street at Huashan Road). A loud and smoky kebab house just a short walk east of Century Square, this always-busy place sells what is hands-down the best chuan (Chinese kebab) in town. Lamb kebabs （羊肉串）, chicken heart kebabs （鸡心串）, mantou （馒头）, chicken wings （鸡翅）are all amazing. Also delicious noodles like the spicy beef noodles (麻辣牛肉面）.edit
Little Boy Western Food (小男孩饭店：Xiaonanhai Fandian), (Qingdao Jie at Henan Jie). Inauthentic but still good western and Korean food, some Chinese dishes. Good prices, nice atmosphere, and a streetside patio for a beer or five.edit
Zhonghua Ming Shifu, Jiefang Avenue, ☎ +86 432 2438333. 10:30AM-9PM. Local food popular with locals.edit
The Thick Red Oil Sauce Saving Pot, Yan'An Lu just east of Jiefang BeiLu. 24/7. Ignore the bizarre name and trek out here for some the the best hotpot in Jilin. Spicy Sichuan style hotpot, mild hotpot, and various other soups in which to cook the incredibly fresh, high-quality meat and veggies. Open 24 hours!!!edit
Liyade Shifu, 56 Jiefang Zhong Road, ☎ +86 432 2081010. 10AM-10PM. Muslim restaurant. Serves small portions of tasty mutton dishes.edit
Jin Zhou Tang Cheng, (Xiamen Jie and Hengshan Lu). Good, authentic Korean restaurant. Galbi, Bibimbab, Bulgogi, and, of course, Kimchi. Also, dog meat. Second location on Jiefang Beilu north of Yan'an Lu.edit
Full House, (DongTan Jie at JiangWan Lu 东滩街 江湾路). Excellent Korean food in the heart of Jilin's Korean district. Staff and most customers are ethnically Korean. Most staff speak English very well.edit
Friends Restaurant (福恋德西餐), Xiangtan Street and Anyuan Road (North of zunyi Road) (Bus 4 from train station or 40 from Jiangcheng Square (get off at Jiangbei Department Store)), ☎ 133-8432-4155. 11:00-21:00 (stay open longer if busy). Probably Jilin's best and most-authentic western restaurant. Very good pizza, great steaks, and excellent pasta dishes (the Spaghetti Carbonara comes highly recommended). One of the best wine lists in town too (insofar as they have red wine, and some of it's not bad), and great coffee. The second floor corner location makes for some of the best people watching in Jilin too. A little out-of-the-way, however.edit
German Beer Bar, (New Century Building, Songjiang East Road). If you get tired of dumplings, noodles, and chuan, head for this place in the plaza near Wen Miao. German beer by the bottle and European sausages and mustards are served for the premium prices you might expect.edit
Jinbake Bar (金巴克酒吧; Jīnbākè Jiǔbā), 7 Hunchun Street (珲春街7号; Húnchūnjiē). edit
MIX Bar (MIX酒吧; MIX Jiǔbā), North Avenue (北大街; Běidàjiē), ☎ +86 432 2030388. edit
Hive Bar (HIVE 酒吧）, (Binjiang Donglu near BeiHua University East Gate). A college dive bar like you'd expect to see in California. Cheap draft beer, Western spirits (not fake), and a laid-back atmosphere with snowboards on the wood-panelled walls, and a fireplace, populated almost exclusively by college students, often foreigners. WARNING: Almost impossible to get a taxi out after 11:00 PM.edit
ken's Bar and Cafe, Wuhan Road, across from Jihua #1 primary school, Tiedong (Bus 12 from train station, Bus 44 from Dadongmen Sq.), ☎ 131-3441-5756. 11:00 until they feel like closing. A cozy place with a few secluded tables and a main bar. The food is ok, but the main draw is the selection of beer and authentic liquor at extremely reasonable prices. The affable owner speaks excellent English.edit
Shenzhou Hotel (吉林神州大酒店; Jílín Shénzhōu Dàjiǔdiàn), 1 Songjiang East Road, Changyi District (昌邑区松江东路1号; Chāngyìqū Sōngjiāngdōnglù), ☎ +86 432 2161000 (fax: +86 432 2482408), . Rooms with free internet. Business center and gift shop available. Chinese restaurant and bar.Listed rates for doubles from ¥380, discounted from ¥238, including breakfast. edit
Century Swissbel Hotel (吉林世纪大饭店; Jílín Shìjì Dàfàndiàn), 77 Jilin Avenue, Fengman District (丰满区吉林大街77号; Fēngmǎnqū Jílíndàjiē), ☎ +86 432 2168888 (email@example.com, fax: +86 432 2168777), . Five star hotel with rooms with free internet, electronic safe, mini-bar and coffee facilities. Business center, currency exchange, billiards, table tennis, racquetball, fitness, tennis, virtual golf, indoor swimming pool and massage. Chinese and Western restaurants as well as bar and room service.Listed rates for doubles from ¥880, discounted from ¥418, including breakfast. edit
Empire Garden Hotel (吉林皇家花园酒店; Jílín Huángjiāhuāyuán Jiǔdiàn), 10 Liaoning Road, north end of Jiefang Avenue, Changyi District (昌邑区解放大路北段辽宁路10号; Chāngyìqū jiěfàngdàlùběiduàn Liáonínglù), ☎ +86 432 2169999 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +86 432 2169000), . Listed rates for doubles from ¥980, discounted from ¥400. edit
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