The bustling city of Tianjin has some great places to shop for souvenirs – ranging from old traditional shops in Ancient Culture Street to department stores and smart shopping malls in the same street! Commercial Street and Tianjin Walking Street are other major shopping streets that are a colorful blend of old and new. Other prestigious modern shopping centers include Isten and Junhur. Shenyang Dao is the largest antique market in China and has a fascinating selection of gold, silver, porcelain and wonderful paintings. There are some really good jewelry shops in Youyi Road and Gu Wenhua Jie is a fascinating street with traditional shops along both sides. There are a number of different open-air markets to enjoy in Tianjin too.
1. Ensure yourself good luck for the future
Yang Liu Qing Nian paintings are traditionally on display in homes for the Chinese New Year as they are said to bring good luck for future years. The paintings were first painted about 700 years ago in Yanliuqing- a small village in the western suburbs of the city. They always depict chubby children and beautiful women accompanied by classical motifs of flowers, birds, and trees. The children are often portrayed with lotus flowers and koi carp in their arms. The lotus is ‘lian’ in Mandarin Chinese and koi carp ‘yu’ and they are linked in the saying ‘lianianyouyu’ meaning ‘enjoy good prosperity every year’!
2. Choose a traditional kite to fly
Weijin kites are named after the master craftsman Wei Yuan Tai. China was the first country in the world to make kites and the very first was made 2,500 years ago. Wei Yuan Ta has been making kites for 70 years and makes 200 different designs. He was named world champion for kite making in 2015 and he has inspired too many to follow his tradition. His kites are colorful designs that include birds and insects. The frame is always made from the most flexible bamboo and the tails are always made from long lengths of silk or satin.
3. Pack a Ni ren zhang figurine
These distinctive figurines were first made in the 1800s in Tianjin. These distinctive chubby childlike figurines are famous all over the world. Their craftsmen were inspired by three well-known novels and they are really detailed figurines that portray life in ancient China. The figurines are always very expressive. The best place to see a good selection of figurines and to have the opportunity to watch the craftsmen at work in the workshops is in Ancient Culture Street no 17.
4. Buy a beautiful pair of silk pyjamas
There is something so sensuous about wearing beautiful silk pyjamas and like all items of silk clothing, the prices in the city are amazingly good. There is a range of prices, depending on whether you buy them in a shop in one of the malls or in a market and they are available in varied qualities. The range includes plain or patterned silk in a rainbow of colors. Other items include robes, dress, shirts and bed linen.
5. Select some really good Chinese tea
Tea has been grown in China since 2730 BC and the Chinese take their tea drinking very seriously. In China, tea is considered a very healthy drink. Chinese tea is divided into five types – white, green, black, Oolong and herbal. There are more than 500 different varieties available and they can be bought in small quantities so you can choose array to pack in your case.
6. Choose some beautiful jade jewelry
Jade is the most highly prized stone in China and is a symbol of nobility and perfection. Jade has a 4,000-year history and there are four main types – Hetian, Xie, Dushan, and Turquoise. Jade is worn by both men and women in China and it is available either with gold or silver. There are rings, earrings, necklaces, and bangles available and all are sold with a certificate of authenticity.
7. Pack some traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese medicines are an integral part of Chinese culture and traditional herbal medicines play a major role. There are a number of pharmacies with their walls lined with numerous wooden drawers containing a wide range of medicines for every imaginable minor ailment. Thousands of herbs are used and the most popular include Chinese cucumber, Camelia, Chrysanthemum flower and the most popular – ginger and ginseng.
8. Consider buying some lovely textiles
Tianjin has a long tradition for making some beautiful textiles and the city’s textile mall is a fascinating place to visit with a shop stocking a wonderful range of textiles to buy and a fascinating museum that not only reveals the history of textile making in the city but also looks at the history of world textiles and how each one evolved.
9. Have your name written in Chinese calligraphy
Chinese calligraphy is considered an important art form and there are four main styles – seal, official, semi-cursive and cursive. There is a wide selection of pieces to buy including different sized paper fans and lanterns with different quotations and messages written on them, One of the most popular gifts is a scroll with a name written in Chinese characters. There are a number of calligraphy writers in the city and if you would like to get your name written, it is best to write it in large clear letters on a piece of white paper to give to them. If calligraphy is something you would like to try yourself, why not buy a calligraphy set containing a brush, paper, ink, and inkstand?
10. Buy a piece of history
Shenyang Dao is the largest antique market in China and is a fascinating place to explore. There are hundreds of different antiques including many from the period of the cultural revolution and there is also a huge selection of vintage fashion jewelry. Prices are quite high and stall vendors expect you to haggle over the indicated price.