As an ancient hub for water transportation and some eight decades of concession territories history have made Tianjin the largest coastal city in northern China.
It’s not difficult to find evidence to support it as both an ancient and modern city. In addition, the combination of both Chinese and Western styles can be seen easily from numerous historic architecture at the Fifth Avenue Area and the modern buildings along the Haihe River.
Tianjin boasts more than 2,000 villas built during 1920s, many of which are former residence of celebrities, including former US president Herbert Hoover and former US secretary of State George Marshall. Famed as “Museum of Ten Thousand Nations,” the city has buildings of classical British style, German gothic, French Romanesque, classical Russian style or ancient Greece. Horse-drawn carriage rides through the Fifth Avenue area are one of the most impressive ways to explore the splendors of the city.
Transportation has never been a big deal in Tianjin. The city has had a trolley system as early as 1904, ranking third after Beijing and Hong Kong.
Night demonstrates the best this modern and vibrant city has to offer. The 120-meter tall Tianjin Eye is a famous landmark that was built above Yongle Bridge over Haihe River, and is the only one of its kind in the world, equipped with 48 enclosed cabins providing sweeping views of the city.
If you are a porcelain lover, a visit to the Porcelain House located at No.72 Chifeng Road, Heping District would be a bonus. Its owner spent about eight years building the house, which contains over 400 million porcelain fragments, 5,000 ancient vases and 4,000 plates from different dynasties.
“Do as the locals do” starts from breakfast. A Muslim Restaurant called Ma Ji Fu Lai near the Drum Tower provides authentic local food in the morning with reasonable prices, which has been drawing locals for decades.
Another way to experience the local culture of Tianjin is entertaining yourself with a crosstalk in the teahouse, also “Xiangsheng” in Chinese. It’s a traditional form of comic dialogue which can be traced back to the late years of the Qing Dynasty. Tianjin, being one of the three origins of crosstalk, bears much meaning of its later development.
Late spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Tianjin, as this is when you can experience the most comfortable weather. Only a half-hour train ride from Beijing, it is totally worth your time.
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