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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrTianjin is located in Northern China, on the coast, and is one of five ‘national central cities’, with the fourth-largest city population in China. As one of four direct-controlled municipalities in China, it is under the direct jurisdiction of the central government and not part of any of the provinces.
Tianjin’s climate is typical of Eastern Asia, with the city experiencing all four seasons, influenced by the monsoon rains. The winters are often unbearably cold, with dry winds coming across from Siberia, and the summers are humid and sticky. The land on which Tianjin now exists was previously open sea, and the land was formed by the sedimentation of various rivers, all entering the sea at one point. It is not known where exactly the name Tianjin comes from, though it is first thought to have appeared in the poems of Qu Yuan , where he described the city as a ‘port of heaven’.
SightseeingAs a metropolis and one of four direct-controlled cities, Tianjin is an organised, exciting city, buzzing with things to do, and places to see.
One of the most interesting things to do in Tianjin, is also unexpected; walk the Great Wall of China. Much less frequented by tourists, than parts of the wall near Beijing, experiencing the Great Wall in Tianjin offers a more intimate experience. The crowds are much smaller, and the scenery is just as beautiful, it is almost worth coming to Tianjin just for this experience. You are able to hike for a long time along the wall, making this more of a trek. Also be warned that the restaurants surrounding the base of the wall are quite overpriced and will target tourists.
Tinjian Haihe Cultural SquareTianjin Haihe Cultural Square, located in Haihe East Road in Taipei District, is regarded as the equivalent to ‘the Bund’ in Shanghai. It is free to visit and provides a stunning view of the Haihe River, as well as great architecture and bridges. During the summer you will see people swimming in the river, and fisherman fishing, as well as many couples taking wedding photos – this is something huge in China! During the winter, when it gets cold enough the river will freeze and people go ice skating along it. It is also a nice place to go for a stroll at night when all the buildings are lit up.
Tianjin EyeThe stunning Tianjin Eye, which is majestically lit up in many colors at night, stands at an impressive 120 meters. The wheel provides an incredible view of the whole city, however it is almost always crowded; the best views are at night when the entire city is lit up. You will have to share your car with other people, but the wheel is so tall, that the views are incredible and definitely worth the crowds. At around $ 12 USD a ride, it is very reasonably priced, especially compared to other view towers in China.
Tianjin People's ParkTianjin People’s Park, located in the Hexi District, is both a public park and Chinese garden. It was originally built to be a private garden, but in 1863 was donated to the state and opened to the public years later, in 1951. Entrance to the park is free, and major renovation work was completed before re-opening the park in 2009. There is a lake in the middle of the park, as well as lots of trees and open grassy spaces. It is a great place to relax, especially in the summer. Though there is not much to see, it is easily accessible and provides a welcome break from the city, as well from the constant crowds.
Tianjin Science and Technology MuseumThe Tianjin Science and Technology Museum is great for kids of all ages. Located in Hexi District, close to downtown Tianjin, the museum has no entrance fee, so is great for a budget day out. The museum has lots of hands-on things to try, and you can easily spend a whole day here. Although it is often busy, the museum is well laid out, so it doesn’t feel too crowded. There are two floors of exhibitions, some with explanations in English, though not all, as well as a theater. There is a little shop to buy snacks, but no restaurant, so come prepared.
Baxian Mountain National Nature ReserveFor those looking to explore nature, head to the outskirts of Tianjin, to the Baxian Mountain National Nature Reserve, located at the southern slope of the Yanshan mountain chain. Making for an absolutely ideal place for a hike in the summer, the forest covers 95% of the reserve. There are peaks, rivers, deep gullies, wooden bridges, and geological relics making for a beautiful reserve. Admission is $ 7.00 USD per person and the reserve is well-kept. Go in the summer and spend the day hiking and swimming.
Dule TempleThe Dule Temple is a Buddhist Temple, located in the town of Jixian, just outside Tianjin. It is China’s oldest wooden structure pavilion and is worth seeing for this reason alone. Most of the temple was ruined during the Tang Dynasty, when Emperor Wuzong was cracking down on Buddhism. Over the next hundreds of years, the buildings were restored and more buildings were added. Within in the temple is a goddess of mercy; a statue that stands at 16 meters, and is one of the largest in the country. Admission is only $ 3.00 USD a person, and makes for a great insight into the history of China and Buddhism.
ShoppingTianjin hosts the biggest antique market in China, the Shenyang Dao Antique Market. It is filled with shops selling porcelain, paintings as well as silver and gold jewelry, and the famous Chinese jade articles.
A bit of a strange attraction, Italian Style Street is a street located in the old colonial part of the town, that looks as though you are somewhere in Italy. The streets have become very commercialized, with restaurants serving Western food; however you can find some good quality clothes at nice boutique shops for reasonable prices, and is worth it if you are looking to update your wardrobe quickly.
Ancient Culture Street, located in the Nankai District, is a sort of old antiques market, mixed with a crafts and souvenirs district as well as being a place to find great artworks at cheap prices. You can find almost anything you like here in terms of antiques and art work, but be prepared to bargain as it is extremely touristy. Allow yourself around three hours to see everything and be sure to try some of the tasty food sold by the vendors around the stalls.
Joy City Shopping Mall, located near the center of the city, is a Western style shopping mall with restaurants in the basement and Western brands such as Toys’R’Us and H&M; though the prices are comparable to European prices.
EatingIf you have been travelling around China for a while and are starting to feel homesick, Hank’s Sports Bar is the place to go. Located on Vanke Jin Ao International Square, in He Xi District, the restaurant does great food at fairly reasonable prices. Although it is a little difficult to find, the owner will be able to give a taxi driver directions, and he is also usually around the restaurant to chat. The restaurant is mostly American-style cuisine but sometimes features Italian and Mexican menus as well.
Casserole Lee, located on Jiujang Road, offers authentic Chinese food, as well as American-Chinese dishes like cashew chicken. They do free take-out, so this is a good place if you want to get take away food. The portions are huge, so be sure to go with someone else so you can try a few different things. The best dish is the ribs, with the succulent meat falling off the bones.
YY Beer House, located on Aomen Road, serves great Thai and Chinese food in a cozy setting in a converted house. The restaurant is middle-range and suitable for lunch or dinner. They also brew their own beer and house a large collection of foreign beers. The service is also great, and drinks are well priced. Worth a visit, no matter how long you are in Tianjin.
SleepingMiranda’s Loft, in Beima Road, is a perfect option for budget travelers. With no option for private rooms, this is great if you are travelling alone or with friends. One night is only $ 3.00 USD , making it an incredibly cheap, cozy place. Miranda has a wealth of knowledge on things to do in Tianjin as well as tips on travelling around the rest of China.
Hotel Indigo, located in the central Hexi District is a boutique hotel, and has received outstanding reviews. The rooms are large and spacious, and the service is great. The hotel is a little quirky, but its stunning surroundings make for a great getaway.
The Astor Hotel, Tianjin, is one of the most famous hotels in China. Known for its history, the hotel is located directly on the river, and provides incredible views over the city. The Astor Hotel is the oldest hotel in China, and has a museum detailing its expansive history. The building is an old colonial building and has been well maintained. The breakfast offered is a buffet with Chinese and Western dishes, and is all included. The hotel is the first luxury collection hotel in the world, and has recently undergone a major renovation.
Getting ThereGetting to Tianjin from Beijing is so easy, many expats go for a weekend break. The bullet train takes just 33 minutes, and tickets start from as little as 54 CNY, with trains running roughly every ten minutes. Tianjin also has an international airport, located just 13 kilometers from central downtown Tianjin. Although the airport is international, the flights are mostly domestic, with frequent flights to Shanghai, Xian and Wuhan.
Tianjin also has an important railroad link in the Northeast, via several major railway lines, coming into four different train stations. Like most other Chinese cities, depending on where you are going, the stations each service a different part of China. For a different way into the city, the Tianjin Xingang Port is the biggest man-made port in China and services Inchon in Korea as well as Honshu in Japan, and during high season even passenger ships from Europe arrive in this port.
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Author: hannahbarkan. Last updated: Mar 01, 2015