Tianjin travel guide
Beijing’s bright lights and numerous tourist attractions may overshadow Tianjin, but this vibrant city shines with its own luminosity, making it an ideal place to explore if you are visiting China’s capital. Rich in history, culture, attractions, scenery and scrumptious food, Tianjin makes for an ideal getaway.
Although overshadowed by the capital, the two cities have been interwoven since antiquity. Ever since Beijing was made the capital in the Yuan Dynasty, Tianjin’s fortunes started to rise. It continued to prosper when the city became the junction for the Grand Canal on the route to Beijing and then became a walled garrison city by the 15th century.
Tianjin’s atmosphere is so different from that of Beijing and to really get a sense of the city’s personality you need to walk and explore every nook and cranny. A city guide to Tianjin will have you start your journey exploring the Treaty Port Architecture. Start walking north from Jiefang Beilu to gaze upon some of the colonial European architecture; most have been lovingly preserved. You will see banks, churches, warehouses and numerous other different types of buildings, each adding to the charming ambience of the neighbourhood.
Shopaholics will adore Tianjin for its many markets. The Antique Market is a must with its various vendors spreading out with their vast array of merchandise. You will find everything under the sun here including memorabilia from the Cultural Revolution, porcelain, silverware and clocks. Although sellers are here throughout the week, your best bet is to come here on Sundays.
Next, head up to Ancient Culture Street (Guwenhua Jie); because of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it has been expanded. Goods from across the entire country have been brought here for tourists to look at, haggle for and purchase. Whether you are searching for paintings, tea sets, food or calligraphy, it can all be found here.
Cross over to the west from Ancient Culture Street and you will discover Tianhou Temple, dedicated to the goddess of the sea, Tianhou, but you may recognise her as either Nianniang or Mazu. The Niangniang Palace is the key hall in this stunning complex, where a glorious statue of the beautiful goddess rests. Ancient Culture Street is also home to the Jade Emperor Pavilion, which you should not pass out on seeing.
Tianjin has an important Buddhist temple which should not be missed for anything. The Monastery of Deep Compassion (Dabeichan Yuan) is still flocked to by locals who worship and seek enlightenment from the Buddha. There is a stunning statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha outside the Shijiabao Hall and one of the goddess Guanjin in another hall.
Tianjin is home to a vast array of ethnicities, including Chinese, Asian and European. As such, restaurants in Tianjin cater to every type of cuisine known. From sophisticated modern restaurants to inexpensive street vendors, your tastebuds will thank you with each bite.
Hotels in Tianjin are much more affordable than in Beijing, and more spacious, but you still feel the pull on your purse strings if you don’t look around. Rooms are generally spacious, comfortable and clean, together with excellent service.
Whether you are visiting Tianjin for a day or for a week, you will find her to be a place that is full of charm, full of delights and things to do. Oozing charm and character from the moment you step foot within the city, you will never want to her.