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Tianjin is a growing metropolis in northern China. Located on the Bohai Sea it has for centuries been a major port city and a gateway to Beijing.
Tianjin is an important ingredient in China’s modernisation plans. It is one of four centrally-controlled municipalities in the country – along with Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing – and one of the five national central cities, which the state is using to reform urbanisation.
Tianjin is the largest coastal city in northern China and the fourth largest city by population in the People’s Republic.
The opening of the Grand Canal, which connects the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, under the Sui Dynasty (581-618) propelled Tianjin to national importance as a trading centre. Following the Second Opium War, it was opened up to international trade and European powers flocked to the city, opening up concessions and building thousands of villas.
While this foreign presence was not always welcomed in Tianjin, the mark left by Europeans provide the modern city with an exotic flavour.
Several free trade zones have been established in the Tianjin area. The Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA) was one of the first and most successful state-sponsored development areas in China.
Tianjin is today a hub of advanced industry and financial activity and is a centre for innovation. Manufacturing is still the largest sector, but biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, chemical processing, electronics manufacturing, food processing, shipping and telecommunications all remain strong industries in the city.
When to go:
Late Spring (April-May) and early autumn (August-October) are the best times to visit Tianjin.
- Shop till you drop on Binjiang Dao (Walking Street). Here you’ll find a concentration of shops, from top department stores to traditional handicraft vendors.
- Walk along the Great Wall of China at the Huangyaguan Great Wall. First built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-557) and largely reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it was regarded as an ‘impregnable pass’ in Tianjin. Situated on a mountain ridge with an average altitude of 738m and surrounded by cliffs, crags and lush green cover, it is a wonderful experience.
- Eat authentic Italian pizza in Tianjin Italian Town, one of most well-preserved areas of Italian architecture outside of Italy. A remnant of the Italian concession of the late 19th century, this area is now a major tourist spot, with a plentiful supply of bars, clubs, shops and great Italian eateries.
- Relive Tianjing under the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) at Ancient Culture Street. The street has been reconstructed to show off imperial architectural styles and to showcase Tianjing culture. The shops sell various traditional art and craft and lots of local snacks.
- Scale the heights on the Tianjin Eye Ferris Wheel, a giant ferris wheel built over a bridge on the Hei River. It is 110m in diameter and will take you 120m high, giving you a great view of the city and surrounds.
- Explore the Heihe River, which represents immense natural beauty and important cultural traditions of the Tianjin people. Haihe Park is a good place to amble or picnic.