A Travel Price Comparison for China Lhasa vs. Harbin for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Lhasa or Harbin?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Lhasa or Harbin? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Where Should I go: Lhasa or Harbin?


Lhasa is the famed capital of Tibet, and is one of the most fascinating cities in the world to visit. It's name means "Land of the Gods" and the city dates back more than 1,300 years. It's elevation is 3,650 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest cities in the world. It sits on the northern slopes of the Himalayan Mountains by the Lhasa River and is the second largest city on the Tibetan Plateau after Xining.


Harbin, China is the northernmost major city in the country, with a population of over 10 million. Harbin was founded in 1897 by Russia, which has resulted in a lot of Russian influence throughout the city and many Russian citizens. The city is most famous for their annual International Snow and Ice Festival, a two-month-long festival running from January through February of each year.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Sightseeing Tours in China, The Best Cultural Tours in China, The Best Luxury Tours to China, and The Best Budget Tours to China.

Which place is cheaper, Harbin or Lhasa?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Lhasa is $71, while the average daily cost in Harbin is $54. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Lhasa and Harbin in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Lhasa $39
    Harbin $21
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Lhasa $78
    Harbin $42
Compare Hotels in Lhasa and Harbin

Looking for a hotel in Lhasa or Harbin? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Lhasa

Hotels in Harbin

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Lhasa $2.57
    Harbin $1.50

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Lhasa

Also for Lhasa, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Lhasa Kongga Airport Chauffeur Service, Lhasa Airport Transfer, Pickup: $170
  • Lhasa Kongga Airport Chauffeur Service, Lhasa Airport Transfer, Pickup: $260

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Harbin

Also for Harbin, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private HRB Airport Departure Transfer from Harbin City Hotel: $70
  • Private HRB Airport Arrival Transfer to Harbin City Hotel: $70
  • Private Full Day Transfer Service to Harbin Top Winter Attractions: $168
  • Private Departure Transfer to Harbin West Railway Station from Harbin City Hotel: $60
  • Private Arrival Transfer:Any Harbin Railway Station to City Hotel: $29
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Harbin West Railway Station to Harbin City Hotel: $65
  • Harbin Private Transfer from Harbin central to Harbin Taiping Airport (HRB): $114
  • Harbin City Car Transfer Service with Driver: $168
  • Harbin Airport Chauffeur Service, Harbin Airport Transfer: $27
  • Harbin Airport (HRB) : Private Arrival Transfer with Meet & Greet Service: $32
  • Private Departure Transfer:City Hotel to Any Harbin Railway Station : $25

Is it cheaper to fly into Lhasa or Harbin?

Prices for flights to both Harbin and Lhasa change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Lhasa $26
    Harbin $14

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Harbin

For Harbin, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • 4-Hour Private Night Tour to Harbin Ice and Snow World with Dinner Options: $261

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Lhasa $17
    Harbin $53

Tours and Activities in Lhasa

For Lhasa, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • 4 Days Lhasa City Essence Tour: $745
  • 4 Days Lhasa City Tibet Tour included Permit issued: $760
  • 5 Days Classic Lhasa Tour with Yamdrok Lake in Tibet: $999
  • Private Full-Day Tour w/ Lunch: $800
  • Nepal Tibet Tour 8 Days: $2,727

Tours and Activities in Harbin

For Harbin, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • 1-Day Harbin Private Tour: $130
  • 2-Day Harbin City Private Tour in Your Way in Winter Season: $280
  • 4-Hour Private Tour of the Largest Indoor Ice and Snow Paradise: $136
  • All-Inclusive Harbin Jewish Culture Private Day Tour: $300
  • From Amazing Day Trip Including tickets: $400
  • Full Day Private Tour to Harbin Ice and Snow Festival: $250
  • Group Tour to Harbin Ice and Snow World plus Sun Island Snow Sculpture Festival: $298
  • Half Day Tour for Harbin Guandong Ancient Lane and Wood Sculpture Museum: $104
  • Harbin City Group Tour including Crossing Songhua River by Ropeway and Ice Swimming Show: $290
  • Harbin City Private Day Tour in Your Way in Winter Season: $200
  • Private City Tour of Harbin: $360
  • Private Half Day City Tour including Russian Town and Harbin Ropeway Ride: $150

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Lhasa $6.91
    Harbin $7.85

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Lhasa and Harbin, we can see that Lhasa is more expensive. And not only is Harbin much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Harbin would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Harbin and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Lhasa would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Lhasa than you might in Harbin.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Lhasa Expensive? and Is Harbin Expensive?.

Which is Bigger, Lhasa or Harbin?

Harbin has a larger population, and is about 30 times larger than the population of Lhasa. When comparing the sizes of Lhasa and Harbin, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.