Welcome to Tianjin, China!
Tianjin is the largest port city in China and is known as the “gateway” to Beijing being only 120 kilometers away. Tianjin is interesting in that many of the city’s buildings are styled in a western variation of architecture, with most of those buildings having been built earlier in the 20th century.
Tianjin is a city with a lot of history, much like the rest of China, in fact. It’s a popular hub for trade, with the Tianjin Port (up and running again after the terrible 2015 Tianjin explosion.) This city might not be as popular as a tourist destination as its nearby brother Beijing, but there is so much here for any type of traveler that if you find Beijing to be too crowded and full of people, making a trip to Tianjin is definitely worth it. There’s nature, urban city, culture, amazing food, and unique history that only a worldwide local knows that all those things are what makes a city unique.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re looking to make a trip from Tianjin to elsewhere in China or Asia, the city is incredibly well-connected. A bus ride to nearby Beijing will only cost about $5 USD, and there is a nearby boat service to Incheon South Korean and Kobe, Japan. If you’re arriving by bus or boat, or if you’re landing in Tianjin airport, this city is a great stop if you’re planning on touring Asia.
See the City from Above
Get the layout of the city, not from a map or a GPS, but from an amazing bird’s eye view. Head out to the Hexi District and look up to see the Tianjin Radio and TV Tower. Standing at over 1,360 feet tall, this building is one of the tallest free-standing buildings in the world. Bring a camera, take a ride to the top, and experience one of the best sights in town. Built in 1991, this structure is an underrated gem, and certainly worth the views on a clear day.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re looking for a really interesting experience while you’re up there, you can book a reservation at the revolving restaurant located on the top floor. Enjoy one of the most unique experiences you can in Tianjin, and eat some amazing food while you’re at it.
Find Europe in Tianjin
Perhaps one of the weirdest parts of Tianjin is the western-style buildings here. During the Boxer Rebellion, China asked for help from European countries in retaking Tianjin. In July 1990, the city was retaken, and the eight nations that helped do that were allowed to garrison the area. As a result, Tianjin has a bunch of out-of-place buildings that look like they belong in Western Europe. There are about 2,000 of these villas around town and even a museum dedicated to this history--as well as some of the famous people that lived there.
Worldwide Local Tip: The Italian-inspired town has been recently renovated, and now you’ll find tons of great Italian restaurants and cultural exports. There’s even a thriving nightlife and lots of boutique shops here in case you want to feel like you’re browsing around Milan for your next outfit. It’s truly a fun and weird place.
Visit the Great Wall in Tianjin
Even people who are not that familiar with China have heard of the Great Wall. But most people probably don’t know that it is not really only one wall but a series of fortifications, extending in various directions--one of which is in Tianjin. Known as the Huangyaguan Great Wall, the wall is 42 meters long and was first built during the Deiqi Dynasty in 550 and then expanded during the Ming Dynasty. The site is beautiful and surrounded by natural green spaces, making it one of the most scenic spots to enjoy the Tianjin weather.
Worldwide Local Tip: Visitors to the wall can always pay to walk and explore on their own, but it’s definitely beneficial to book an in-depth tour of this national monument. Your guide will be someone who knows the history and can guide you through some of the more interesting parts of it. Make sure to pack a camera and some good walking shoes.
Enjoy Your Visit!
If you’re touring Asia, make sure to make a stop in Tianjin. There’s everything from natural green beauty to fascinating local history, as well as weird and irreverent local landmarks. A worldwide local always makes sure to not only see the best spots around town, but the most quirky as well, and Tianjin has lots of that.