Let me tell you, this city is a best kept secret. Super clean, wide streets, a beautiful and clean river with masses of bridges all shapes and sizes, almost never ending examples of colonial buildings, massive banks, mega stores, long wide pedestrian walkways and fantastic food. Little side alleys of window shops (super clean stalls), old fashioned, wonderful pedestrian shopping areas with all period buildings and wonderfully colourful buildings, enormous Buddhist monastery complex again with wonderfully kept and renovated ancient building Y5.00, including chanting monks. There are theme areas such as Italian style region, first settled by Italian families, but now known for its beautiful fountain and eating outlets featuring Italian, Bavarian/German, and another various European foods...plus beer...lots and lots of beer. At night there are mile long pedestrian malls of Heping and Binjiang Roads, which are ablaze with coloured lights, shops and food outlets galore. This we saw on day one, but we intend going back to many of them, plus giant department complexes, river cruises and we haven't touched yet the very many parks and gardens.
Day 2 and we walked along the river a few km to the Ancient Commercial District with its wonderful food, shops selling everything possible and ancient temples. This took the better part of ½ a day of wandering and a pleasant walk back along the river watching men swimming in the river, tour boats, extraordinary buildings flanking the river and the century clock in the square outside the main rail station. There is a favourite dumpling Soy Gow, but eaten with dark vinegar, which is cheap and tasty Y15 for 20 dumplings. Also a flat fried dumpling with various fillings and almost a meal each at Y4 a piece.
Day 3 was spent checking out how to get to the Tianjin airport as Internet info seemed contradictory. Well after inspecting many leads from the Net, we found that the only bus was from the main rail station left of exit/entrance north No2. Y10 pp.These leave every 30 min on the dot. There is a mess of building at present as a new metro station is being built and eventually we assume the buses will be a bit closer to the station exit. To get from the front (south) of the station facing the river to the north exit you have to go through the station which includes lining up for baggage inspection.
Day 4 and last of day 3 was window shopping and even then we barely scratched the surface. The choices of clothing, footwear and accessories seems endless. We also checked out a large market and nearby gluttons square. The market was clean and good, but gluttons square was overpriced and not very good.
Last day we repacked our bags to comply with Air Asia rules and the hotel kindly drove us to the station. The bus trip to the airport was easy and comfortable. Bus station at the airport is just outside ground floor of arrivals area. When leaving, don't arrive more than 3 hours before takeoff as an official little bugger will make you hang around the entrance hall even though the departure signs say the check in counter is open. Just means less duty free spending time I guess.
Happily one rarely has to deal with any officious officials and the city is such a pleasant surprise that once China makes it less complicated and inconvenient to get a visa, one would definitely think about coming back for another visit.
Meanwhile there was so much to see, I will add a few more favourite Photos.