Border town right on the Heilongjiang River across from the Russian city Blagoveshchensk. Heihe City has a population of more than 100,000 (1.7 million in the Heihe Prefecture). The city's economy is based on selling stuff to Russians, which is helped by Heihe and Blagoveshchensk forming a free-trade zone.
The city consists of
English Speakers, Be Advised: Virtually no one speaks or understands English. There are no English signs, maps, menus, etc. Everything is in Mandarin and Russian. Expect to be addressed by shopkeepers and restaurant workers in Russian. It is highly suggested that if you do not have a solid basic understanding of either Russian or Mandarin - travel here with someone who does.
Three planes a day from Harbin to Heihe. China Eastern Airlines, Okay Airways, China Southern Airlines. Price in USD 87-222. Time in air no more 1 hour. You can pick a taxi from airport or use a shuttle bus.
Trains from Harbin take 10-13 hours and cost ¥43-234. Other trains include from Qiqihar (11h30; ¥38-133).
Some buses from Harbin, Qiqihar every day.
Heilongjiang have wide and comfortable road network. Road with G and S indexes communicate many cities and places with Heihe.
There is a robust taxi system throughout the city, fares are 6rmb (roughly $1 US) flat rate for pretty much anywhere within the city. There are also buses that run regular routes ever few minutes, fares are 1rmb per boarding.
Be advised that smoking on public transportation is permitted, so be prepared for someone to light up every time you travel, including drivers. For this reason, walking or renting / borrowing a car may be a preferred method of transportation to some.
There are many shops here specialising in Russian products, so if you are into Russian dolls and kitch Russian artifacts, this is the place.
There is a plethora of food types and eateries to choose from. Food is cheap by US standards - $10 US can feed 2 people very well in most establishments. On any given street you will find at least a dozen eateries and food carts. Be wary of the food cart vendors, as with any city - some are great and the owners honest folks trying to make the best food they can for the best price possible; however some buy spoiled meats and disguise them heavily with spices to sell to the unwitting consumer.
Again, Smoking is permitted indoors. There are some higher end non-smoking restaurants, but this is no guarantee. There are non-smoking restaurants where the managers clearly felt the rule did not apply to them and would be smoking while seating guests or providing instructions to employees.