- Fourth largest city in China, with a population of 13 million.
- Has been a major seaport and gateway to the capital (Beijing) for over 150 years.
- One of the 5 National Central Cities of the PRC (along with Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chongqing). A political, cultural, and economic hub.
- Nicknames: Pearl of the Bohai, Stronghold of Rivers and the Sea
- Currency: Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY).
- Spoken languages: Mandarin (Tianjin dialect).
- Best time to visit: from September to December (cool, relatively humid), and from March to May.
- Arriving via airport: a taxi ride to the city center will cost around 50-100 Yuan.
WHERE TO STAY
Look for accommodations near the city center, where most tourist sites are located. The centre contains the major hotel chains (e.g. Sheraton, The Renaissance, The Westin, Nikko, Holiday Inn) Tianjin. Upscale hotels will generally have great views of the urban lakes (e.g. Donghu, Nanhu, Xihu) and parks. If you are looking for some more budget-friendly hotels, consider mid-range chains (e.g. Home Inn, Days Inn).
- There are currently four operating subway lines in Tianjin, with two more under construction. Subway rides cost no more than 5 Yuan (usually around 1-3 Yuan).
- Buses service most of the city, and there are bus stops all over. Be sure to check the signs by the bus stops to make sure you’re taking the right bus.
- Taxis are available almost anywhere in the city. Taxi prices are 8 Yuan for the first 3 km, with an additional 2 Yuan for every extra km. Note: you may have difficulty hailing a cab in busier official areas such as airports and national tourist sites. Find a taxi stand, or order one by dialing 2635 3731.
- Drinking age is 18 (not enforced), and there is no last call (many restaurants and bars stay open all night).
- Bar scene: the Marco Polo Square in the Hebei district is a beautiful street of Italian styled buildings. Originally built by Italians (who settled and colonized this region a few centuries ago), the Square is home to many stylish Chinese bars and cafés.
- Trendy scene: the Chengdu Road and Changsha Road crossing, closest to the city center, contains hip restaurants, bars, and karaoke/dance clubs.
- Clubbing scene: most mainstream bars and cafés are located near the major international hotel chains such as Nikko, Renaissance, and the Astor.Stroll around some of the big name hotels and night you may be surprised at the parties you discover!
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium, often referred to as the Water Drop, is Tianjin’s most famous athletic center.
- One of the world’s seven wonders, China’s Great Wall is famous for its wonderful view and massive proportions. Stretching through all of China, there are many entry points in various cities. In Tianjin, the closest entry is the Huangya Pass, where you can explore ancient Chinese history and buy souvenirs.
- The Tianjin Museum, along with the Tianjin Natural History Museum and the Tianjin Science and Technology Museum, are interesting places to visit for those interested in learning more about Tianjin’s (and China’s) rich history and culture.
- The Tianjin Television and Radio Tower is where television and radio stations are hosted and broadcasted. Open to the public, the top of this tower offers one the most magnificent views of the Tianjin – a 360-degree panorama of the entire cityscape.
- The Porcelain House in Tianjin is another interesting sight. A building beautifully crafted of hand-made ceramics and porcelain. Many intricate pieces of ceramic art, including pots and vases, are showcased in the Porcelain House.
- Take a walk through the historical villages and parks sprinkled throughout Tianjin. Don’t be afraid to sample the local cuisine as you do so!
- The Tianjin Water Park is fun place to visit and stroll through, and is located conveniently near the city center.
- The Marco Polo Square, in addition to being a great center of nightlife, is also an interesting place to check out during the daytime. Learn about what life was like in Tianjin centuries ago.
- The Nanshi Food Street is a nice place to check out during the day. Bustling with activity, the busy street brings together both national and regional culinary delicacies.
- Don’t be surprised if people you meet don’t speak any English (Tianjin has less English speakers than Beijing or Shanghai). Be prepared – bring maps with English along as you travel, make use of road signs, and jot down certain names of landmarks in Mandarin. Consider bringing a pocket Chinese dictionary. If you get lost, try using the road signs to navigate – they usually have both English and Chinese labels.
- While China is known for its fascinating culture and history, you may encounter some unpleasant local habits. Don’t be surprised if you see people litter, smoke in public, or spit on the ground. Just be sure to watch where you walk!
- Where to find good cheap eats: almost everywhere in Tianjin, especially in any park or traditional village area. Warning: avoid eating food from street vendors. They are known for using cheap/poor ingredients, and the food could give you food poisoning and/or an upset stomach.
- Dangerous areas: Tianjin is generally very safe – as one of China’s most developed, it has no particularly dangerous areas. Exercise common sense, especially when walking alone at night.
The Best Tianjin Guide Books:
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide China (covers the whole country)
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days