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Tianjin

Tianjin doesn’t have the international name recognition of Beijing or Shanghai, but it is China’s third-biggest city. Its metropolitan center is only an hour from Beijing by train, but it’s easily lost in the lights of the nation’s capital. The same paradox that persists in other coastal Chinese cities is at work in this city of nine million, with pockets of colonial architecture and traditional boroughs losing ground to towering skyscrapers in the city center.

The city upgraded its infrastructure in preparation to host a portion of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, so much of the accommodation near Tianjin is relatively new. Even so, most of the city’s attractions are historic. Sites include the Ming-Dynasty Dabei Monastery, Drum Tower and Tianjin’s record-setting TV Tower.

Outstanding cuisine is a highlight of any visit to Tianjin, and locals are well aware of this. Several pedestrian market streets populate the city center, including one that’s devoted entirely to local cuisine.

Despite the fact that international tourists spend little time here, Tianjin has a thriving expatriate community and plenty to keep families busy. Wildlife centers, a seaside resort and new theme park are just a few recent additions. The hotels around Tianjin are also good places to organize outings to the Great Wall – high on any tourist’s ‘must-see’ list.

Getting into Tianjin is easy thanks to its proximity to Beijing. Express buses and trains connect from the capital in about 90 minutes. Tianjin Binhai International Airport is often bypassed in favor of the bigger, better-connected airport in Beijing.

For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Tianjin, click on the interactive Tianjin map on the left-hand side of the page.