Shaped like a swan along the banks of the Songhua River, Harbin was founded by Russia in the late 1800s and is the capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province. The Sheraton Harbin Xiangfang Hotel is conveniently located at the intersection of Xiangfu Road and Hacheng Road. Corporate offices, retail shops, a movie theater, a department store, and a nightclub are just steps away. Harbin Xiangfang Railway Station is just a five-minute walk from the hotel, and Harbin Taiping International Airport (HRB) can be reached by car in 45 minutes.
Named “The Music City” by UNESCO in 2010, Harbin is well known for its Russian- and European-influenced architecture. Zhongyang Pedestrian Street, also known as Central Street, is an excellent starting point for discovering the city’s Baroque and Byzantine facades. The cobblestone street is also filled with shops selling Russian vodka, dolls, fur hats, and other Russian goods. Saint Sophia Cathedral is one of the city’s last remaining Russian Orthodox churches. Now a museum, visitors can peruse various art displays showcasing the city’s architecture throughout the years. More Russian buildings can be found in the old quarter. Wander along the riverbank in Stalin Park, and take a dog-sled or horse-sled ride over the ice. Or take a leisurely stroll in the Harbin Botanical Garden.
Don’t miss one of the four largest ice and snow festivals in the world. Held every January, the month-long Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival’s two main exhibition areas are Sun Island and Ice and Snow World. Built from ice taken from the river, the illuminated sculptures are truly spectacular. The annual August Harbin International Beer Festival and the Harbin Summer Music Festival held every two years are also entertaining.
Savour some indigenous cuisine. Influenced by Russia, Mongolia, and Korea, local hearty fare includes stews, bread, Chinese barbecue, and hot pot.