Tianjin Travel Guide
A seaport located a relatively short distance from Beijing, Tianjin is a city of both historical and modern importance. Catapulted into world headlines just a few years ago for a massive explosion which occurred in its dockyards, it has since recovered from that incident.
With a quiet portion of the Great Wall close by, excellent museums, and a lovely park at its core, Tianjin is a wonderful destination to head to when you are ready to leave Beijing for other spots in China.
Get a good background in this city’s past history by spending an hour or two exploring the Tianjin Museum. A future-forward building whose modernistic architecture resembles a swan with its wings outstretched, this institution draws on the relics which have been preserved from the ancient past of Tianjin.
Throughout its halls, you’ll see paintings, calligraphy, pottery, bronze and jade implements, and other items which were valued by royalty and nobles in the days of the dynasties. In particular, be sure to check out a tortoise shell with inscriptions dating from the Shang Dynasty, as it is a rare item not found anywhere else in the world.
Shocked at the crowds who flood China’s greatest attraction at locations close by to Beijing? Instead of braving throngs of people at those spots, opt to see the Great Wall at Huangya Pass instead. A short distance from Tianjin, those visiting this part of China can see this much less put upon section as part of a day trip.
Despite having a fraction of visitors compared to parts of the Great Wall near Beijing, the Huangya section is in remarkable shape. Plan on getting a workout in here, as the steps along this portion of The Wall are especially steep. The effort you’ll put in will be worth it, as the views from the guard towers will give you outstanding views of the mountains present in this part of China.
The age of emperors in China only came to an end in 1912 – once the last emperor stepped off the throne, he had to go somewhere to spend the remainder of his days. That place was Jingyuan, a palatial residence located in Tianjin.
Translating literally to ‘Stillness Garden’, this mansion was a tranquil place where Emperor Puyi spent his retirement years starting in 1927. True to its name, the property contains a lush garden – measuring 3,000 square metres alone, it is a spectacle worth seeing, with plenty of fountains and Spanish design elements throughout.
Inside, you’ll find a number of exhibits containing photos, documents, period furniture, and other personal effects which will bring the final years of the former emperor and his entourage to life.
As a trading post for many European powers in the centuries leading up to the present day, Tianjin contained many things which they brought from home to make themselves feel more comfortable in a foreign land.
They not only brought their architecture and goods from their countries but their religion (Christianity) as well. Xikai Church is one of the biggest legacies they left behind in this Chinese city – with French-inspired architecture, this century-old Roman Catholic Church survived earthquakes and Communism to become one of the most unique cultural assets in Tianjin.
Built in the Romanesque style with every one of its bricks shipped in from France, its exterior and interior have many highlights worth seeing, so make time for this attraction while you are in Tianjin.
Of all the places in Tianjin, Shuishang Park is perhaps the best place to see its residents at leisure. Defined by its massive lake and Ferris wheel, locals looking for a place to kick back and relax gravitate here on their time off from work.
The usual assortment of trails, pagodas, and decorative bridges will keep those simply interested in relaxation satisfied, but this park also offers boat rentals and powered rides, so don’t miss the chance to get out on the water on a beautiful day.
Take a trip into the past of Tianjin by taking a walk down its Ancient Culture Street. Along its 700 metre length, you’ll find buildings which date back to the 14th century. One of them is a Mazu Temple, which is only one of three in this sect (the other two can be found on Taiwan).
You’ll also find murals which illustrate scenes found in many classics of Chinese literature, some as old as the 10th century in age, as well as handicraft creators and food stalls selling local specialities.
Want to see where foreign emissaries, traders, and the elite of Chinese society lived in Tianjin before the dawn of Communism? Check out the buildings located along the Five Great Avenues. They contain buildings built for those from Britain, Spain, France, Italy, and Germany, which the architecture often matching what was common in houses back home when they were constructed.
Finally, those wanting a quiet place to compose themselves after a hectic day of sightseeing might want to spend some time in Tianjin People’s Park. With a small amusement park geared towards kids located here, those travelling as a family will love visiting this locals attraction.