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Known as Kirin during the Manchukuo time, JILIN (吉林, jílín) is split in two by the Songhua River, with the downtown area spread along its northern shore. The waterside promenade makes for a pretty walk, especially in winter, when the trees are coated in frost – a phenomenon, known as shugua in Chinese, that results from condensation from the city’s hydroelectric dam at Songhua Hu. It’s Jilin’s claim to fame, along with an ice festival in January and three neighbouring parks for skiing and sledding. This makes winter the ideal time to visit, though the parks – Beishan, Jiangnan and Jiangbei – are nice enough in summer. Beishan (北山公园, běishān gōngyuán), in the west of town, is the best known of the three. It’s filled with pathways and temples, the most interesting of which is Yuhuangge (Jade Emperor’s Temple), where rows of fortune-tellers gather out front.

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