Located on the Bohai Gulf, Tianjin is the sixth largest urban area in China and one of the fastest-growing cities. Tianjin will surprise you with its modern Binhai area that is rapidly developing and with its old city where several foreign concessions were built between the 15th and 19th century.
Tianjin has a rich history as a key location in the Boxer Rebellion and as the place where the last Chinese emperor lived. Your trip to Tianjin is the perfect opportunity to learn more about Chinese history and to admire the curious mixture of colonial and modern architecture that can be found in the streets of Tianjin.
There are over 200 buildings with architecture from all over the world on Five Avenue. This is probably the only place in the world where examples of Renaissance, Gothic, Romantic and Carson architectures can be seen next to each other.
The Tianjin Eye is a giant Ferris wheel built on Yongle Bridge. Taking a ride on a Ferris wheel built on a bridge is an impressive experience and you will get to see an amazing view of the city.
Beining Park is known for its several bonds, pavilions and arch bridges that create a very serene atmosphere. Don't miss the Zhiyuan Pagoda and its murals.
The Tianjin Museum has an interesting collection of historical artifacts related to the city's history as a port and to the Boxer Rebellion. The museum is also worth visiting if you are interested in traditional Chinese art.
Puyi lived in Tianjin from 1925 to 1931. You can learn more about the last emperor of China by visiting the Jingyuan Garden, which features an interesting mix of Chinese and European architecture.
Far and away Tianjin's premier tourist attraction, the city museum makes an instant impression with its cutting edge design. Located on Yinhe Plaza near the center of town, it features over 50,000 square meters of exhibition space, which encompasses almost every aspect of Chinese arts and crafts. From jade pendants to exquisite calligraphy, ancient paintings, and lavish ceramics, the museum is a demonstration of the country's incredible heritage, and the place to start when getting to grips with Tianjin's history.
Also known as the "Temple of Great Compassion", Dabei Yuan dates back to the Qing (or Manchu) dynasty, making it the oldest religious complex in Tianjin. And it's also the most elegant. The centerpiece is an uncanny statue of the bodhisattva Guanyin, associated with compassion in Buddhist lore, but there are plenty of other treasures on display. If you have an interest in Chinese art and architecture, the temple will be a feast for the eyes. But for Buddhists, it's very much a living, progressive institution, which leads the way in bringing modern tech to bear on age-old spiritual issues.
Known in many tourist guides as "Ancient Culture Street", Jinmen Guli is at the center of Tianjin's Old Town, and is pretty much unmissable for all visitors. This engaging street is packed with antiques sellers, vendors offering jade creations (not all of them 100% jade, it has to be admitted), and traditional mud sculptures. If you want to pick up miniature paintings, caps, or robes, this is the place to shop. In fact, it's simply the best place to go souvenir shopping in Tianjin, period.
Not, as you might think, a house dedicated to Chinese culture, "China House" is actually focused on porcelain china - and in a major way. This outlandish creation is essentially a late 19th century French house that has been clad in tonnes of colorful porcelain. Everything inside is clad or decorated with porcelain as well, adding up to a unique display of Chinese ceramic mastery. For some, it might also add up to an unholy mess, but that's part of the charm. There's nothing quite like this eccentric testament to the power of porcelain.
Located in the Yangliuqing neighborhood, the Shi Family Courtyard is one of the most graceful examples of modern Chinese architecture you could ever hope to see. It was built in the 1870s by a prosperous merchant family, and on a grand scale - with 275 rooms, 200 houses for employees and dependents, and a floor space of 6,000 square meters. A popular filming location for period dramas, it's now been converted into a fascinating Folk Museum, but some of the original opulent interiors have been retained.
Winter months can be cold and humid and the summer is usually hot and dry. It is best to visit Tianjin in the autumn or in the spring, if you don't mind a few dust storms.
The Tianjin Binhai Internationa lAirport (TSN) is located 9 miles east of the city. You can get from the airport to the downtown area by taking the airport shuttle bus for ¥20. Line 2 of the metro system will also take you to the city. Taking a taxi should cost you ¥50.
Tianjin is connected by rail to the major Chinese cities. Taking the train from Beijing to Tianjin should cost ¥55 while a train ticket from Shanghai should cost ¥500. Traveling between Xi'an and Tianjin by train should cost ¥680.
You can drive from Beijing to Tianjin by following the Jingintang Expressway. Tianjin is connected to Shanghai via the Jinghu Expressway and you can follow the Beijing-Kunming Expressway to reach Tianjin if you are coming from Xi'an.
Taking the bus from Beijing to Tianjin should cost ¥30. Several long-distance buses will take you to nearby Beijing. A bus ticket between Zhengzhou and Beijing should cost ¥360 while taking the bus from Shanghai to Beijing should cost ¥400.
The Astor Hotel is probably the best luxury experience the city has to offer. The Sheraton Tianjin Hotel is another excellent choice.
Heping - This is where you will find Five Avenue and its colonial buildings. Head to Nanjing Road and Binjiang Street if you want to find modern shopping malls and department stores.
Nankai - There is a lot to do in the Nankai area, with the Tianjin Museum, the Tianjin Water Park, the zoo and the Olympic Center Stadium.
Tianjin Ancient Culture Street - This street is worth seeing for its buildings with an interesting folk architectural style, the several stores where you can shop for jewelry and ceramics and the Matsu Temple.
The Tianjin public transportation system includes several bus and metro lines. Bus fare costs ¥1 or ¥1.5 and metro tickets costs between ¥2 and ¥5 depending on how far you are traveling.
Finding taxis in Tianjin is very easy. You will have to spend ¥4.5 for the first mile and ¥3.5 for each additional mile. You can hire a driver if you want to have a car waiting for you while you shop or visit landmarks. This should only cost ¥100 for a couple of hours.
You will find an Avis location downtown and several other independent car rental agencies. Renting a car will cost between ¥300 and ¥500 a day.
You will find modern malls on Binjiang Dao and Nanjing Road. Head to the Nanshi South Market or to the Tianjin Old Town if you want to shop for jewelry and the ceramics the city is known for. The Shenyang Dao Antique Market is another interesting experience if you are looking for crafts and souvenirs.
You will find a Walmart location in the downtown area as well as several smaller independent grocery stores throughout the city. A loaf of bread should cost ¥7.50 and a pound of chicken will cost ¥10.
If you want to try traditional food for a low price, make sure you eat at Miao King's Kitchen. Liangqian Ping Seafood Restaurant is one of the best places for seafood and Li's Dish is an excellent choice if you want an upscale experience. A meal at an affordable restaurant should only cost ¥20, seafood places will typically charge ¥300 for a meal, while upscale places can cost ¥500 or more.