Tianjin Culture and Food
Tianjin has a unique culture that has earned the city the nickname of “Shanghai of the North”. This name references its foreign concession areas, the port, and the European architecture. Despite being one of the biggest cities in China, Tianjin is best described as “the biggest small town in China”.
It is incredibly safe here and the people are friendly and curious. Often strangers will call out “Hello!”, and you’ll find yourself being asked about your life from taxi drivers and the occasional passer by. The local people are extremely proud of their city, and there is a strong sense of community here. Even if you don’t speak Chinese, you’ll find that it is actually quite easy to get by with some gesturing and a sense of humor!
Something that nearly all expats have in common is their love for food. Fortunately, for us Tianjin has a large number of restaurants both foreign and local. Street food is very popular in China. It is inexpensive and easily some of the best food Tianjin has to offer. Some of our staff’s favorite street food include: donkey sandwiches, jingbing guozi, and quail eggs. If that is not your speed, you can try one of the numerous restaurants that serve foreign dishes. These establishments are also into experimenting with new flavors as well as blending Western and Chinese tastes into one dish.
In and around Tianjin
Ancient Cultural Street
As you explore Tianjin you will inevitably discover Ancient Culture Street. Here you are able to see traditional Chinese architecture as well as shop for souvenirs. Products range from fun trinkets, to classic Chinese pottery, and older decorative items. You should also stop by the Temple of the Queen of Heaven. It is one of only three Mazu temples in the world.
Wu Da Dao
The upmarket restaurant and shopping district, Wu Da Dao or Five Avenues, is a set of streets that are historically important for Tianjin. Throughout the centuries many foreign powers had concessions in this city. The most famous was from 1860-1947. During this time, seven European countries occupied territory here. Despite them having left long ago, their impressions remain. The streets are wide and tree lined, and many of the buildings feature European architecture. There are also many cafes and restaurants in this area that are a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Hai He River
The Hai He runs straight through the heart of Tianjin. Many enjoy walking or riding their bikes down the paths that run alongside the river. Some locals enjoy fishing in it, and some of the heartier souls go for a swim in it.
About a 2.5 hour drive away lies a portion of the Great Wall called the Huangya Pass. Construction on the base started as early as year 550 A.D! It is worth it to hire a van or a car and spend the day hiking here. You will be surrounded by orchards, steep mountains, and spectacular views!
Another great attraction of Tianjin is its location – 120km from Beijing. Tianjin is surrounded by vast areas of rural land, and there are opportunities for day trips to the Great Wall, various mountains, or to some temples. Tianjin and Beijing are linked by a speed train. Known as the “bullet” this railway masterpiece takes a mere 26 minutes to get to Beijing. The train is extremely efficient and allows our teachers easy access to Beijing and its many delights – The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Summer Palace and Olympic venues just to name a few.