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Planning Your Trip

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Though it’s just half an hour from Beijing via high-speed train, beguiling Tianjin packs a unique, East-meets-West punch that’s all its own. The former concession port city boasts a promenade-friendly river, European-flavored neighborhoods and rich Chinese culture.

Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image
What to Pack
The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin

Save room in your suitcase for authentic souvenirs of Tianjin to bring home to family and friends. Among the prized local crafts are Clay Figure Zhang, a traditional folk art, and nian hua, the colorful woodblock prints used as Chinese New Year decorations. Or consider an edible memento of the city’s legendary street food — Tianjin’s sweet roasted chestnuts, sold in stalls throughout the city, are considered the best in China.

Business Travel

If this is your first time traveling to Tianjin on business, you’re in for a treat. Pack efficiently so you’ll have ample extra time to see some sights, too.


  • The temperature in Tianjin varies by season. If you are traveling between May and October, bring lightweight suits and layer; pack a heavier suit from November to April.

  • The air in Tianjin is very dry from November to April; make sure to pack some moisturizing skin and lip care products.

  • Make sure you have a plentiful supply of business cards — failing to offer one may suggest you don’t want to make someone’s acquaintance.
Exploring the City

The coastal metropolis of Tianjin, China’s third-largest city, offers a kaleidoscope of streetscapes that reflect the influences of its colonial European past and modern Chinese future. Here’s how to tackle them.


  • From the Five Great Avenues to Ancient Culture Street, there are byways to explore. Since many of the streets are one-way and crooked, it’s easy to get lost — be sure to bring a printed or digital map with you.

  • There are many unique architectural and cultural attractions to photograph here. Bring your favorite professional photography and video equipment to capture the memories.

  • From the city’s commercial heart, The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin is convenient to the city’s key attractions, and traveling on two wheels is an easy way to see the sights. Ask your concierge to arrange a bike rental, and pack flat shoes or sneakers and lightweight, cycling-friendly clothes for a unique adventure.
Weekend Getaway

A weekend escape to Tianjin offers just enough time to see some of the most memorable cultural and natural treasures, especially if you’ve packed these items.


  • Taxis are readily available in Tianjin, though you’ll also do plenty of walking and maybe cycling to explore. Pack comfortable clothes you can layer together and flat, comfortable shoes.

  • The right day bag is key to a weekend of unfettered exploration. A simple tote bag, cross-body purse or backpack to carry your essentials will leave your hands free while you’re on the go.

  • Though its nightlife isn’t as frenzied as that of nearby Beijing, Tianjin offers sophisticated dining options along with buzzy bars and lounges. Be sure to pack a more dressed-up ensemble to explore after-hours.
Victoria Park View
Victoria Park View
What To Reserve
The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin

You won’t need a reservation to enjoy Tianjin’s essential delights, like promenading along the Hai River, which runs through the city and is studded with European façades. or sampling its famous street food at Nanshi Shipin Jie. Here’s what not to miss.

In laid-back Tianjin, eating is one thing locals take very seriously. Most visitors arrive wanting a taste of the city’s famous food culture and delectable local dishes, and the city’s passionate chefs, restaurants and street vendors are happy to comply. Tian Tai Xuan, the two-level Cantonese restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin, enchants local customers and travelers alike with sophisticated takes on Guangdong and Tianjin delicacies (Executive Chef Zhang has more than three decades of culinary experience in the city). And it’s said that a Tianjin trip is not complete without a visit to Goubuli restaurant, whose chrysanthemum-shaped baozi, or stuffed buns, have shaped cuisine here for 150 years and are now a global phenomenon.

Five Great Avenues is a European-style area whose five streets are named after five cities in southwest China. Stroll through its historic architecture while you imagine what life was like 100 years ago, or reserve a horse-drawn carriage tour through its streets. Only for guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin is the curated Art Tour, which defines the unforgettable and artful moments in the journey. Guests can enjoy the educational context and creative inspiration behind more than 1,200 pieces of artwork on display at the hotel, whose rich backgrounds inspire an “East Meets West” theme. The hotel’s Ladies and Gentlemen select the most famous pieces, bringing guests on an intimate one-hour journey through the works and their stories.

Tianjin Museum has an extensive collection of ancient Chinese fine arts and exhibits on Tianjin’s history, with nearly 200,000 collections of art and relics, including calligraphy, paintings, bronze ware, ceramics, jade ware, seals, ink stone, Jiagu, coins, historic documents and relics of modern times. Tianjin Natural History Museum has a collection of 400,000 biological specimens, giant dinosaur skeletons and the nation’s first live butterfly park inside the museum. Ancient Culture Street, a long stretch anchored by Tianhou, one of Tianjin’s oldest Daoist temples, is a promenade of traditional Chinese architecture and authentic foods and crafts.

As the official flower of Tianjin, the renowned China rose symbolizes the city’s warmth and hospitality. The China Rose Afternoon Tea at The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin reflects the passion of summer with vibrant colors. Using fresh strawberries and raspberries as the main ingredients, the snacks are sweet and refreshing. Xiangsheng (“crosstalk”) is a traditional Chinese comedic form that originated in Tianjin; its witty banter, rich in puns and allusions, is delivered rapidly and classically performed in dialogue. Tianjin Mingliu Tea House is the iconic crosstalk venue — many celebrities, such as Ma Sanli, Wei Wenliang, Yang Shaohua and Guo Degang, have performed on its stage.

A bar with a large window behind it and a lounge with multiple seating areas in front
A bar with a large window behind it and a lounge with multiple seating areas in front
The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin

A former imperial port, Tianjin means “the place where the emperor crossed the river.” Beijing lies just across the water, making Tianjin an easy day trip from the capital (30 minutes by train). China’s third-largest city is also the country’s most Westernized. Its past life as a concessions port has resulted in an East-meets-West vibe where European-influenced architecture and food can be found alongside traditional hutongs and hawkers selling Goubuli baozi (stuffed buns). Just beyond the city, you can temple-hop and visit the Great Wall of China’s Huangyaguan. It may not get the hype of Beijing or Shanghai, but the lack of tourist crowds is what makes Tianjin one of China’s best-kept secrets.

Family Vacation Fun

Tianjin is the perfect base for families. Learn about the city’s European-influenced past and artisan traditions while wandering the Five Great Avenues and Ancient Culture Street. Explore the region’s culinary intricacies while eating your way across local food stalls, teahouses and restaurants. Theme parks and a giant Ferris wheel provide family fun for all ages. Tianjin is also just a day trip away from bucket-list wonders like the temples and pagodas of Pan Mountain and the Huangyaguan Great Wall.

Ritz Carlton Hotel image

  • Culinary Crawl. Head to Nanshi Food Street, a mall-like complex filled with affordable restaurants and food stalls, to get a taste of Tianjin’s famous snacks. Don’t miss the ubiquitous local specialty ma hua, a twisted fried dough, and the city’s trademark Goubuli baozi, a pork-filled steamed bun.

  • See the Great Wall. One of China’s icons, the Great Wall is a bucket-list sight. The Huangyaguan section, or Yellow Cliff Pass, spans just over 26 miles and is dotted with 52 watch towers. The hike between Huangya Fortress and Taipingzhai is around 4 miles and the approximately two-hour journey is rewarded with spectacular views.


  • Porcelain Home. The China House on Chifeng Road is embellished ground-to-ceiling in porcelain, making it look like a masterwork of Gaudí. It is estimated that the home houses 700 million pieces ranging from cat-shaped porcelain pillows to white marble lions.

  • Woodblock Traditions. Tianjin is known for its traditional woodblock carvings. The local woodblock style is known as the Yangliuqing New Year Pictures and features chubby-cheeked characters. Learn about the tracing, carving, printing and painting process at the Tianjin Yangliuqing New Year Picture Museum.


  • Little Italy. Being a port city, Tianjin attracted many Europeans in its heyday and their influence can still be seen throughout the streets. Take a tour of the former Italian concession, known as the Italian Style Street, and you’ll feel transported to Italy. The main area, Marco Polo Plaza, is home to historic buildings, gardens and, of course, many Italian restaurants.


  • Authentic Duck Dinner. Roast duck is one of Beijing’s classic dishes. Legend has it that the emperor of the Yuan Dynasty cooked with wild duck and so it was listed as an imperial dish. Dengyinglour restaurant serves one of Tianjin’s best interpretations of authentic Beijing duck.

  • Camp Out. Let the kids go on a safari with The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin. The Ritz Kids program can organize a “night safari” and set up a camping tent in the room, complete with an LED flashlight, bathrobe and slippers, and a toy lion.

  • House Tour. Experience the life of the Chinese elite during the 19th century on a tour of the Shi Family House. The home of one of Tianjin’s most prominent clans, it was built in 1875 and has been turned into a museum. Wander the 12 courtyards and admire the lovely Chinese furnishings and antiques found throughout the rooms.

  • Geek Out on Aviation. The Tianjin Binhai Aircraft Carrier Theme Park is uniquely constructed around the Kiev aircraft carrier. Get a firsthand look at the command center and intelligence room and watch 4-D films in the aircraft carrier’s theater.



  • Cool Off. Spend an afternoon splashing around at the Tianjin Water Park, a 410-acre aquatic playland just south of the city with three lakes, nine islands and expansive gardens that boast the largest bonsai garden in northern China.



  • Rib Night. Every diner at Shaguo Li finishes a meal with barbecue sauce-covered fingers. The restaurant’s spare ribs are the cult item here, doused in sweet barbecue sauce and tender enough that the meat falls right off the bone.

  • Urban Amusement. A ride on the Tianjin Eye, a 48-capsule Ferris wheel, is the perfect way to end a day. At night, the Eye glows neon and every seat gets a stunning view of the twinkling city.
  • Temple Hop. Day trip to Mount Panshan, a 26,000-acre area 68 miles from Tianjin. The main peak, Guayue Peak (Moon Hanging Peak), is 2,800 feet above sea level and on a clear day, you can see the Great Wall. Follow the walking paths and take in centuries-old temples, towers and pagodas. Don’t miss Wanfo Temple, which boasts nearly 11,000 Buddha statues.

  • Underwater Adventure.  Feel as if you’re under the sea as you walk through the fish tunnel at Tianjin Haichang Polar Ocean World. The center consists of nine exhibition areas dedicated to subjects such as coral, sharks and jellyfish.

  • Restore Your Chi. After a long day spent walking the trails of Mount Panshan, let the kids have some downtime with the Ritz Kids program, and head to the spa for a Tui’na Chinese massage. A combination of pressure point, friction and stretching will restore physical and energetic balance.

  • Enjoy Family-Style Dining. Celebrate your last evening together at FLAIR, which serves a dynamic and creative assortment of Asian tapas, perfect for sharing. If your group includes picky eaters, French fries are on the menu, too.

  • The Other Bund. The 30-minute train ride from Beijing South Railway Station drops you at Tianjin Railway Station, just across from the Haihe Cultural Square. Known as the “Bund” of Tianjin, the square offers fantastic people-watching. Cultural events are often staged here, and you’ll find dozens of vendors hawking traditional Tianjin snacks. Try a jianbing, a crêpe-like Chinese breakfast staple filled with eggs, scallions, cilantro, pickles and chili sauce.

  • A Gaudí-Esque Masterpiece. Head to the Heping District and marvel at the China House on Chifeng Road. The French-style villa is also known as the Porcelain House because of its ground-to-ceiling embellishment in china. Up close, it resembles something out of a Tim Burton film or a Gaudí artwork. Inside is equally as spectacular, with doors, handrails and even ceilings decorated with porcelain. It’s estimated that the home houses 700 million pieces ranging from cat-shaped porcelain pillows to white marble lions from the Tang Dynasty.



Time Travel. Although Tianjin’s Ancient Culture Street was built in 1986, it resembles cities from China’s Qing Dynasty. The lengthy corridor is filled with traditional architecture and famous stores, including the Yangliuqing New Year Paintings shop and Zhang’s Clay Figurines. You’ll also find food vendors selling Tianjin specialties like shuligao, and little steamed cakes made from rice and topped with colorful jellies.


China’s Best Buns. Goubuli baozi is a distinct style of bao, or steamed buns, that were created in Tianjin in the late 1800s. The eponymous restaurant now has branches throughout mainland China. Stop by the original location on Shandong Street in the Heping District and see for yourself if the buns are worth the hype. The menu has since expanded but order the classic, a juicy, pork-filled bun flavored with ginger, scallions, sesame oil and soy sauce.




  • Eclectic Architecture. Explore Tianjin’s Five Great Avenues, where five streets named after the five major cities of southwest China — Chonqing, Dali, Munan, Machang and Changde — make up a rectangular area downtown. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride around what was once considered the most desirable residential part of the city, home to government officials, celebrities and wealthy merchants. Architecture buffs may want to hire a guide who can speak to the various building styles, which reference France, Italy, Germany and Spain.

  • Tea Time. China is renowned for its fine teas and Yishang Tea Market is the perfect place for a tutorial in all things tea. The second-floor space could easily double as a tea museum, showcasing hundreds of varietals as well as lovely tea accessories.

  • Ride the Eye. As the sun sets and the city lights turn on, there’s no better view than from a capsule of the Tianjin Eye. This massive neon Ferris wheel is the only one of its kind to be built on a bridge. At night, the illuminated, 48-capsule wheel casts a reflection resembling a golden eight — an auspicious figure in Chinese numerology — on the river below.



  • River Cruise. One of the best ways to see the city is a cruise of the Haihe, the largest river system in north China. Bundle up for a 50-minute evening boat ride and watch the city sparkle.

  • Fine-Dining Dim Sum. Savor both classic and creative Cantonese dishes at Tian Tai Xuan, the sleek, two-level restaurant in The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin. The friendly staff can help navigate the lengthy menu of excellent and shareable dishes like double-boiled fish soup, crispy cereal lobster and wok-fried wagyu beef.

  • End With a Laugh. Finish the day by catching a xiangsheng (Cross Talk) at Tianjin Mingliu Tea House. The traditional Chinese comedic performance originated in Tianjin. Rich with puns and allusions, it’s usually performed in a rapid, bantering-style dialogue.