Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Tianjin, China

Fri Jan 2, 2009 6:11am EST
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TIANJIN, China (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore Tianjin, Beijing's port city neighbor and a magnet for foreign investment? Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a visit to the old colonial city.


6 p.m. - Start your evening with a walk by the Hai River, which runs through Tianjin. As a host city of some soccer events during the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Tianjin has had a lot of money spent on it, including a massive revamping of its waterfront. A stroll by the river will give a good overview of a city undergoing a transformation to become a financial center of northern China.

7 p.m. - You cannot go to Tianjin and not eat goubuli. These are steamed dumplings famous throughout China and are a real treat. Their name literally means "dogs ignore it," the origins of which are lost to history. But one story goes that it's because the inventor of the dumpling was so ugly, even dogs couldn't stand to look at him. The pork goubuli are the simplest, and many say the best. You can eat them at various locations around town, though the largest and possibly most famous goubuli restaurant is at 322 Heping Rd. (022-2303-1115)

9 p.m. - Finish off the evening with drinks at Rose Music Lounge. A laid-back little place just next to the Hyatt and on the corner of Tianjin's historic financial district, where many buildings date from the 1920s and 1930s. The decor is slightly tacky, but comfortable, and the staff are friendly. (Jiefang North Rd, next to the Hyatt)


10 a.m. - Tianjin has done a good job at protecting its colonial heritage, namely the buildings put up in the early part of the last century when the city was a concession port and housed enclaves of British, French, Americans and Japanese, among others.

The north part of Jiefang North Road is the best place to go and see these buildings, which look a little like Shanghai's much more famous and grander Bund. Unlike in Shanghai though, Tianjin's old buildings have not been turned into upmarket boutiques or Michelin starred restaurants, and still look gloriously old-fashioned. The post office, for example, does not appear to have changed much in decades. Other must-sees are the old HSBC and Citibank buildings. Plaques in English helpfully tell you a little of the history of each building. (Jiefang North Rd)

1 p.m. - Lunch at Food Street. Pretty much any kind of Chinese food you can imagine is available here, from Muslim specialties to refined Cantonese. Take your pick. (Rongye Avenue)   Continued...

<p>A couple of Japanese tourists are reflected on a glossy pillar as they admire paper lanterns at an art shop in the port city of Tianjin in a file photo. REUTERS/Handout</p>