Inner Circle

Along the Hai River

Penny de Vine shares her very own guide to Tianjin, off the beaten path

Along the Hai River
This carefully restored mansion is a great place to learn about an important piece of China’s past and admire unique Asian-European architecture.

Just a 30-minute high-speed rail trip south-east of Beijing, Tianjin is one of China’s biggest cities and has plenty to keep you occupied, or to help you unwind from a busy day. From haggling for souvenirs in the markets of Ancient Culture Street, to the bird’s-eye view of the city from the Tianjin Eye, you’re sure to find something of interest. But if you’ve already experienced these tried and tested attractions, what is there to do if you’re searching for something different?


The Daguang Ming Bridge is a short, pleasant walk from Shangri-La Hotel, Tianjin along Hai He (Hai River). The bridge is a somewhat unique feature, which is ornately decorated with golden European-style flowers, mermaids and warriors. From here, there are delightful views up and down Hai He, and it makes for a perfect place to take some photos, especially on a clear day.

History enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to Jingyuan, the former residence of the last Emperor of China, Puyi. This carefully restored mansion is a great place to learn about an important piece of China’s past and admire unique Asian-European architecture. The garden surrounding the residence – the Garden of Tranquility – is, as the name suggests, a pleasantly peaceful place to wander around, or sit and relax.

To experience a traditional Chinese Buddhist Temple in Tianjin, stop in at the Dabei Temple (Dabeiyuan) not far from the Tianjin Eye. Tucked away between tall buildings, restaurants and stores, it’s hard to believe the feeling of tranquility here, as you meander through the beautifully maintained and quiet grounds.

Eating out

If you’re searching for an authentic Peking duck experience, you won’t have to go to Beijing to sample it; Shangri-La’s Shang Palace Restaurant will bring it to you! Chef Jeremy Zhang is specially trained in preparing this delectable, succulent treat. Be sure to pre-order your duck – the best in the city in my opinion – and try some of the mouth-watering Cantonese dishes also on offer (the dim sum are particularly delicious).

For lunch or dinner, Minyuan Stadium is the place to go . A short cab ride from the hotel, located in the centre of the ‘Great Five Avenues’ (Wu Da Dao), the stadium features a broad range of mostly Western style restaurants, set within beautifully renovated colonial architecture. Here I recommend enjoying some of the city’s best cocktails, steaks, pizzas or desserts … and there’s even a running track in the centre of the stadium where you can work off those calories!


For those looking to spoil themselves or a loved one with special gifts, Hisense Plaza or Galaxy Mall are just the places to find a large range of genuine international designer clothes, shoes and accessories . Hisense Plaza is a short walk along Hai He from Shangri-La, while the larger Galaxy Mall is a short cab ride away.


Chances are you’ve come to Shangri-La Hotel, Tianjin to have a comfortable and relaxing time while you’re in the city, and there’s no better way to do that than at CHI, The Spa. The spa offers a range of treatments, from massages to facials, in sublimely serene surrounds – a visit here is sure to leave you feeling relaxed and revitalized.

If an outdoor oasis is what you’re looking for, then one of Tianjin’s many parks is where you will find it. A short car ride from the hotel, the People’s Park is an ideal place to stroll along the many winding paths around traditional Chinese architecture, water features and well-manicured gardens. It’s also a great spot to watch locals exercise, or catch up with friends.

When you’re back at the hotel and in your beautifully appointed Horizon River View Room, visit the Horizon Club Lounge on the 32nd floor . Here you can enjoy panoramic views of Tianjin in a wonderfully peaceful and relaxed setting. This is the perfect place to end a busy day, quietly watch the sun set over the city, while indulging in happy hour canapés and drinks.


 Book a two-night stay at Shangri-La Hotel, Tianjin from just 3,500 GC Award Points per night Back to Destination 

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