Tianjin (天津; Tiānjīn) is a major city in North China that neighbours the capital city of Beijing.
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Tianjin is a metropolis in northern China and one of the five national central cities of the People’s Republic of China. Tianjin borders Hebei Province and Beijing Municipality, bounded to the east by the Bohai Gulf portion of the Yellow Sea.
Tianjin is divided into the old city and the Binhai New Area. Binhai New Area is growing fast, with many international companies establishing branch offices. It is a base of China’s advanced industry, financial reform, and innovation.
In terms of urban population, it is the sixth-largest city of the People’s Republic of China. Tianjin’s urban area is located along the Hai River, which connects to the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers via the Grand Canal in Tianjin. Tianjin was once home to foreign concessions in the late Qing Dynasty and early Kuomintang era.
Tianjin’s climate is similar to, though slightly warmer than, its neighbour Beijing. Overall it can be described as continental; winters are cold and dry, as nights below −10°C are not uncommon, and summers are hot and humid, with days reaching above the upper 30s °C not out of the question. The best time to visit is autumn, though if you do not mind dust storms, spring would also be an excellent choice.
Tianjin is the largest city in the North of the People’s Republic of China and after Beijing and Shanghai it is the third largest urban area in mainland China.
Tianjin Municipality is bordered by the province of Hebei and the municipality of Beijing.
The History of Tianjin
On January 15, 1949, Communist forces stormed Tianjin after a 29-hour long offensive. Tianjin has always been a Municipality in China, except during the years between 1958 and 1967, when it was merged with Hebei province.
Rapid development was seen in Tianjin during the 70’s when the People’s Republic of China opened up for international trade.
Tianjin has been trading port since historic times and used to be called “Zhigu” (直沽), or “Straight Port”. In 1404, the Yongle Emperor renamed the city Tianjin, meaning “the Heavenly Ford”, to indicate that the Emperor forded the river at that point.
Due to its proximity to Beijing, Tianjin was involved significantly during the Opium Wars. Many concession areas in the city were run by the European powers as well as Japan, leaving many foreign architectural reminders of their rule, notably including churches and thousands of villas.
On August 12, 2015, Tianjin was rocked by a devastating series of chemical explosions at the Port of Tianjin in the Binhai New Area. 173 people died as a result with 797 receiving non-fatal injuries.
Local Economy of Tianjin
The Municipality of Tianjin posted a GDP of 501.8 billion yuan during the year of 2007, an annual increase of 15% from the fiscal year of 2006. Its per capita GDP was 45,829 yuan in 2007.
Tianjin Municipality attracts large foreign investments such the joint venture with EADS Airbus Industry of building a local assembly plant for the A320 series.
Touristic Attractions in Tianjin Municipality
The Tianjin TV Tower gives you an excellent view of the Municipality of Tianjin. The Xikai Church, the Zhou Enlai Memorial Hall are some of the local attractions Tianjin Municipality has to offer. You can also visit the memorial site the 1870 Tianjin Massacre.
Outside of Tianjin city, you can visit the Great Wall of Huangyaguan, Mount Panshan or the historical Fort Dagukou.
Get around in Tianjin
Founded in 1904, the Tianjin bus system was the first in China, and the metro was second in the nation (1970) and today the city is well served by its public transportation. Within the city, traveling on a bus line that is less than 12 km (7 km) will cost ¥1.5, while ¥1 will cover a journey on any line over 12 kilometres, even if you travel less than 12 km (7 mi) but on a line that is over this distance, the cost is still ¥1. It’s well worth your time to look up popular bus routes. Buses are comfortable and clean.
A light-rail line runs between the urban area of Zhongshanmen to the seaside area Donghailu in TEDA.
Taxis are abundant. The minimum cost for 3 km is ¥8, (¥1.7 per km thereafter). Taxis also charge for the time while the vehicle is stationary at ¥1.7 for every five minutes (cost is exempt for less than five minutes). It is strongly recommended to avoid taxis from near the railway station. See note in the Get in-By train section above about how to avoid train station taxis. The same advice applies at tourist stops, it is best to walk a few blocks to a regular street to catch a metered taxi. Ride with illegal taxis at your own risk.
There are Tianjin tourist maps with destinations written in Chinese characters and English. Pointing at where you want to go will get you a long way with taxi drivers. It might be a good idea to take a magnifying glass along as many of the drivers have trouble with the small font.
You can rent a taxi driver for the day or even for just a few hours. The drivers are happy to wait, and the cost for two hours would be less than ¥100.
Another caution about taxis is that there are toll roads in some parts of China. In a taxi, you will be expected to pay the base fare plus the toll fee. The driver pays the toll and receives a receipt at the toll booth. At your destination, you ask for the receipt and pay that amount plus the base fare. If you are going a long way, you may also be asked to pay for the return toll fee. That is a legitimate request, although you could argue that the driver will pick up another fare to pay for the toll anyway. You may or may not succeed with the driver.
Tipping isn’t common practice, as in most Chinese cities.