In the province of Heilongjiang, Harbin, the largest city in the Chinese region of Manchuria, sits on the Songhua River. Harbin, which is the sixth-largest city in the country, is a former Russian settlement, founded in 1898. It is also the unofficial capital of China for fashion and music, which makes Harbin event venues exciting.
The main airport is the Harbin Taiping International Airport (HRB), which is 23 miles southwest of the city center. It has service to all over China, as well as to cities in Russia, Japan, and South Korea. Destinations in North America and Europe are accessible via daily flights, with a transfer in Beijing.
Chief among meeting venues, Harbin International Conference Exhibition & Sports Center has 700,000 square feet of exhibition space, as well as a 10,000-seat arena. Hotel venues in Harbin able to accommodate groups and meetings include the 404-room Shangri-La Hotel, Harbin, the city's best address, which has the very attractive Grand Ballroom and 11 meeting rooms; the 218-room Jin Gu Hotel Harbin, which has six meeting rooms; the 215-room Ibis Harbin Shangzhi, which has two meeting rooms; the 168-room Grand Soluxe Wang Jiang Harbin, which has conference space for up to 200 persons; and the 158-room Holiday Inn Harbin City Center, which has four meeting rooms for up to 240 persons.
There are some very unique places to gather in Harbin. Two museums stand out: the very futuristic-looking Heilongjiang Science & Technology Museum, which has an IMAX theater, among other options; and Heilongjiang Art Museum in a very classical building. Alternatively, chose the Siberian Tiger Park, which does valiant work to safeguard this endangered species; it has a very kitschy entrance, is just outside the city limits, and contains the Popular Science Exhibition Hall. Or try the gracious, very Chinese ballroom at the 322-room Sofitel Harbin, and the Red Lion Pub — Harbin is very well known in China for its beer — which is connected to the aforementioned Holiday Inn.
There are plenty of excellent restaurants here, especially along the street called Zhongyang Dajie. Two unique characteristics of the local cuisine are the Russian influence and Harbin sausages. Websites with English translation are almost nonexistent, but delicious choices include the original site of what is now a smallish chain, Orient King of Dumplings; Baishicheng Garden Restaurant; Bafu Fragrant Duck, specializing in duck; and Mingdao, which specializes in seafood. If you want your food brought to you by one of 18 differently colored robots, obviously Robot Restaurant of Harbin is your choice.