Top Things to Do in Tianjin
Adjacent to Beijing, Tianjin is the largest harbor city in northern China. It was once the colony of many western counties in the 19th century. There are lots of European style buildings in the Five Great Avenues and the Italian Style Street. Besides, a lot of international cruise ships berth at Tianjin Xin'gang Port, which brings more popularity to this city. With a mixture of domestic and exotic styles, there are lots of things to see and do. Below is a list of some of them.
Coffee Hour at Astor Hotel 利顺德大饭店咖啡时光
It is a beautiful Victorian style hotel with a history of over 150 years. It is right on the Haihe Riverside, with a great river view. It has accommodated many presidents and other dignitaries.
There is a great museum inside — the only one in a hotel in China. It shows the history of the city and the major events that took place there. The first phone and elevator in China were there.
To spend a leisurely afternoon there, drinking some coffee or tea, is a great joy. The elegant atrium-like colonial lobby will give you a feeling that you are in a special era.
Location: 33 Jiefang North Road, Heping District, Tianjin 天津和平区解放北路33号
Suggested visiting time: two hours
Great Wall at Huangya Pass (Huangyaguan Changcheng) 黄崖关长城
The Great Wall at Huangya Pass is a quiet and isolated section located on the East Mountain, 30 kilometers north of Jixian County, Tianjin. It is less touristic compared with the huge crowd in Beijing.
Built on a mountain ridge with an average altitude of 738 meters, there are 66 towers and 14 watchtowers. It was an important military stronghold.
There is a special section that people call the "Music Wall". When you step on it, it makes an interesting sound, like playing the piano.
It is a pretty place for photographs. During the sunset, the pass looks imposing with the steep slopes on both sides.
Location: 30 kilometers north of Jixian County, Tianjin, about 2.5 hours from the city center
Suggested visiting time: one day
Ferris Wheel — Eye of Tianjin 天津之眼
The Eye of Tianjin —Tianjin Yongle Ferris Wheel — is the only Ferris wheel in the world which is built on a bridge. On the Ferris wheel, you can enjoy a 360 degree view of Tianjin for a 30-minute ride, from the center of the river.
The Ferris wheel has a diameter of 110 meters. When you get to the top point, it could be 120 meters from the ground, like on the 35th floor of a building. You can enjoy the view within 40 kilometers.
It is a good place to kill an hour and take some photos. The Ferris wheel looks still but it's actually moving at an extremely slow pace. It is said that every box inside is filled with love. When you and your loved one sit inside, your love increases as you get higher up.
Location: on Yongle Bridge, Sanchahe Estuary, Hongqiao District, Tianjin 天津市红桥区三岔河口永乐桥上
Suggested visiting time: 30-60 minutes
Tianjin Haihe Cultural Square 海河文化广场
It is the "Bund" in Tianjin, a nice place to walk around and enjoy the fine architectures and bridges along the Haihe River. It is right opposite the Tianjin Railway Station.
Many people go there to relax. Walking along the Haihe River towards the Tianjin Eye or taking a river cruise is fabulous. You can see the locals fishing in the river, go swimming or watch wedding couples taking their photos with the European style buildings as a backdrop. In winter, when the river is frozen, you can go skating there. The night view with its colorful lights is especially charming.
Location: Haihe East Road, Hebei District, Tianjin 河北区海河东路
Suggested visiting time: one hour
Five Great Avenues 五大道
It is a lovely European style area highly influenced by the Western culture. It consists of five streets named after five cities in south-west China. They are Chengdu, Chongqing, Changde, Dali and Munan.
The architectures are fabulous. Walking among them, you can feel the history in the air and you may wonder what life may have been like 100 years ago.
It is a nice place to stroll around. You can also get a horse-driven carriage which would be more interesting, or rent a Surrey bicycle from one of the many street corners for the best experience. You can stop for pictures or even go inside some of the buildings.
It would be nice to have a tour guide to give details on the history of the various buildings.
Best time to visit: Spring — when the beautiful roses are blooming in each street.
Location: Heping District, Tianjin 天津市和平区
Suggested visiting time: 1-2 hours
Italian Style Street 意大利风情街
It is a nice place to relax and taste Italian food. It is called the "Italian Style Street", but it is actually an area with about 200 European restaurants, stores and bars.
It is the former Italian Concession area. The buildings still retain their original shapes.
The shops sell Italian souvenirs and Venetian masks. Some restaurants offer outdoor seating and live music.
There are sightseeing buses at Marco Polo Plaza to take you around, with a tour guide onboard to introduce the attractions.
Lot of Chinese television plays took this place as a backdrop because of its specialty and history.
Location: Hebei District, Tianjin. It is right on the Haihe Riverside 天津市河北区海河沿岸
Suggested visiting time: one hour
Tianjin Folklore Museum 天津民俗博物馆
Tianjin Folklore Museum keeps Tianhou Palace (a place where people go to pray for blessings) as part of it; it has about 2,000 folk items. It introduces the development and customs from a great variety of aspects on daily life, trade, arts and clothes.
You can see the development of the water transportation, fishing and salt trade in Tianjin.
You may also discover some interesting folk customs. Let us take a wedding, for example. Before the wedding ceremony that's held in the groom's home, the bride has to cry before she leaves her parents. In the ceremony, the couple has to pay a courtesy to the groom's ancestors, his parents, and then to each other.
You can also enjoy the folk arts of clay sculptures, brick-carvings, paper cuttings and weavings.
Location: at the center of Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street 天津市的古文化街中心
Suggested visiting time: 1-2 hours
Enjoy the local food of Tianjin 天津美食
You can go to Nanshi Food Street to enjoy the local snacks in Tianjin. The well noted ones are the Goubuli (Go Believe) Stuffed Bun, the Guifaxiang Fried Dough Twist 桂发祥麻花, the Erduoyan Fried Cake 耳朵眼炸糕, and the Fruit Pancake 煎饼果子.
Location: old downtown area of Heping District, Tianjin 天津市和平区老市区
Suggested visiting time: one hour.
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