Tianjin is the largest port city in northern China, and one of China’s four municipalities directly under the Central Government. Tianjin has historically been an important port and doorway to Beijing, being 120 kilometers (75 miles) away from the capital. By bullet train from the Beijing Southern Railway Station, it now takes just 40 minutes to get there.
The blend of Chinese and Western cultures also forms Tianjin’s distinctive tourism resources. Known as one of the most outstanding tourist cities in China, Tianjin never loses its appeal to visitors – from mountains, rivers, lakes and the sea to springs, wetlands and local delicacies.
Here are nine of the top places to visit in the city.
1. Haihe River
As the mother river and symbol of Tianjin, the Haihe River runs through the city and out to the Bohai Sea. A total of 21 bridges cross the Haihe River and each is scenic attraction, forming a distinctive bridge culture throughout the region. Rising over the spectacular Yongle Bridge is the Tianjin Eye, an iconic ferris wheel which lights up the city every night.
2. Five Big Avenues: A hub of international architecture
Wudadao, known as the Five Big Avenues, is an international architecture exposition in Tianjin, with about 2,000 villas in various Western styles, built in the 1920s and 1930s. More than 300 late residences of historical figures are located in the area, including former Olympic champion Li Airui, late president of the United States Herbert Hoover, and former U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall. For history lovers, dropping in a visit to the Historical Museum of the Five Avenues helps to get an overall understanding of the history of the area, and also a closer look at about 1,000 items used by the prominent residents who lived in the buildings.
3. The Taida Aircraft Carrier Theme Park
As a national 4A level tourist attraction, the Taida Aircraft Carrier Theme Park is a large military amusement park located in the Binhai New Area. The area integrates marine military culture and Russian culture, with Kiev, the retired aircraft carrier from the Russian navy, being the park’s biggest draw. Over the past ten years, the tourist attraction has seen an increasing number of visitors. During the three-day Qingming Festival in April 2017, more than 40,000 people visited the park, a 20 percent increase compared to the same time last year, which also set a new record.
4. Cross Talk Tea Houses
For Tianjin locals, sitting in a tea house enjoying cross talk shows while eating sunflower seeds and sipping tea is a common form of entertainment at night. The Mingliu Tea House, also known as the Celebrities Tea House, is just one example, offering cross talk performances every day. The entertainment hub was first built in 1991, and was designed by the wife of a Chinese literary giant, Lao She. The plaque of the teahouse was also personally inscribed by Ma Sanli, a famous Chinese crosstalk artist.
5. The Yangliuqing New Year Painting Museum
The Yangliuqing New Year Painting Museum showcases traditional Chinese New Year paintings as well as its history and masterpiece artworks, and demonstrates procedures to create the traditional way of painting. The famous folk wood carving painting first began in the old town of Yangliuqing during the mid-Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when locals portrayed their hopes for a better life with knives and paint brushes, using wood plates as canvases. A typical Yangliuqing New Year painting portrays a chubby child holding a big fish, wishing for an affluent New Year. The paintings are usually hung on walls and doors to seek blessings during the lunar New Year.
6. The Huangyaguan Great Wall
The Huangyaguan Great Wall, 42 kilometers long, is a World Cultural Heritage and a national 4A level scenic spot. The wall was first built in the Beiqi Dynasty (550-577), and rebuilt and expanded in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
7. The Panshan Mountain
The Panshan Mountain, a national 5A-level scenic spot, was once listed among the top 15 tourist attractions in China. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) visited the location more than 30 times, which has made it a must-see destination for both hikers and history lovers. The resort now also offers aerial trips on helicopters, charging 880 yuan ($130) per person for one trip.
8. The Ancient Cultural Street
The Ancient Cultural Street is a commercial strip filled with a wide variety of shops selling traditional folk handicrafts, including the Yangliuqing New Year paintings and the Niren Zhang painted sculptures. The 680-meter long street features buildings of traditional Chinese styles in the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). In the center of the street stands an old opera tower, which can be traced back to the 15th century.
9. The Florentia Village Outlets
The Florentia Village Outlets, located on the outskirts of Tianjin, is a high-end mall featuring more than 200 outlet stores for fashion brands including Prada, Bvlgari, Celine, Chloe, Fendi and Jimmy Choo, among others. The outlets boast the “ultimate shopping experience” since its opening in 2011, with discounted prices all year round. It also features Italian-style architecture, as well as Italian and international cuisines.