Best Expat Bars in Tianjin

La Bamba Restaurant and Bar in Tianjin
La Bamba Restaurant and Bar in Tianjin

As far as big cities and nightlife goes, Tianjin isn’t known for its party scene – especially when compared with neighboring Beijing. In fact, most bars in Tianjin wind down around 2:00am, as locals generally like to turn in early. However, there are a number of bars that stay open until the wee hours of the morning, and these are usually good places to meet fellow expats, have a slice of English conversation, and enjoy some late-night western food. After considerable research (it’s a hard job, but someone’s gotta do it), I’ve made a list of some of the best expat bars in Tianjin.

 

Texas BBQ

Central Avenue, Building C7, Magnetic Plaza, Nankai District

This two-story sports bar is in Ao Cheng and has a great happy hour, good food, and loads of expats. Happy hour is from 3.00pm-7.30pm everyday, which includes a selection of beers, wines and spirits at a 2-for-1 price. The food is tasty Americana bar fare, including burgers, pizzas, ribs and fries. A wide range of sports from around the world are shown on the numerous big screens around the bar and the tables (both indoors and outside on the pavement) are long, wooden, and perfect for meeting new people.

 

Indie Bar

Yichang NanLi 1, Yichang Dao, Heping District

Indie is a great little, laid back, artsy bar near Tianjin Medical University. There’s lots of little tables to play games (cards, mahjong, or board games), draw, listen to live music, and of course eat and drink. Here you can feel comfortable to be yourself and do pretty much whatever you like to chill out. The food and drinks are well priced and tasty – they even serve poutine for the Canadians amongst us.

 

Jack’s Bar

6F Blk C Shangu Commercial St (Off Tianta Dao), Nankai District

This small, unassuming bar located on the 6th floor in a building in Shangu (near Tainta) is a great place to go for a few games of pool and interesting conversations with expats from a range of countries. The owner, Jack, is an extremely friendly and welcoming local who mingles with the expats (and will most likely beat you at pool!). In Summer, Jack opens the rooftop deck (just above the bar) which has loads of tables, delicious BBQ food, and great sunset views of Tianjin.

 

Truman’s

103 Building C, Zilai Huayuan, Shuangfeng Dao, Nankai District

A little hard to find in a small side street of Nankai District, Truman’s is popular with expats and locals alike. Here you can play darts, mingle with and chat to the bar staff and other patrons. There’s two levels to chill out in, and the top level has comfy couches to melt into.

 

La Bamba

Weijin Road opposite Tianjin University’s East Gate, Nankai District

This restaurant-bar usually attracts a younger university crowd so there’s a bit of an upbeat, party sort of vibe here. The food (with, as the name suggests, a Mexican theme) and drinks are cheap and the booths and tables are arranged so that it’s easy to weave in and out to meet new people. Take note of their happy hour times and food specials as the discounts are great value for money.

 

Helen’s

Helen’s gets a special mention here. In my experience, it’s not necessarily one of the best places to meet expats, as it’s usually fairly loud and smokey, and people generally stick to their own tables. But the drinks are cheap and the food can be  good, so once you’ve got your own crowd, head here for a night of fun and games. There are a few Helen’s in Tianjin (and Beijing!), so check their website for your closest one.

 

Sitong

126 Chengdu Rd. (at B1 of Somerset Olympic Tower), Heping District

No list of bars in Tianjin would be complete without mentioning Sitong. Although more of a club than a bar, this place is infamous amongst expats. Come here for a night of dancing, drinking, loud music and the chance to meet “that special someone”.

 

All of these bars have English speaking staff as well as menus in English, but if you want a practice ground for your Chinese basics, these are great places to start. Most bars also have free wifi (you’ll just have to ask for the password). The easiest way to get to most of these places is by taxi. Just show (or tell) the driver the address in Chinese and you shouldn’t be more than a 10-20CNY away from a night of fun.

Where are your favorite expat bars in Tianjin? Let us know in the comments section.

*Please note that things can change, and all information was correct at time of publishing.

DSCN6110Penny de Vine is a thirty-something Australian freelance writer with a love for travel and trying anything new! You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

City Profile: Tianjin, China

Tianjin is best known as the main port of entry for China’s northeastern manufacturing corridor. It’s the largest coastal city in the north and is just a stone’s throw from the capital – going to Beijing is a 30-minute ride by high-speed rail.
Ex-pats find Tianjin to be a very livable city – it has all the amenities from home including shopping malls, western restaurants and coffee shops. In fact, there are four Starbucks locations on one city block! Tianjin has a modern and efficient subway system that includes four lines (several more are under construction) and getting around by taxi or bicycle is very easy. Bikes are the preferred mode of transport for most locals and expats usually pick up a good, sturdy Flying Pigeon at the local supermarket for about $40-50.
In spite of rapid modernization – there is still very much a sense of community here – the locals are often seen mingling in front of their apartments and they’re  not shy to chat up a foreigner if they spot one! Tianjin has a reputation throughout China for being extremely friendly, safe, and for its delicious food! Street vendors can be seen day and night selling savory dumplings and exotic looking snacks – there are hundreds of great restaurants all over the city that feature foods from various regions of China. Sometimes a delicious and generously portioned dinner for two will cost less than a value meal at McDonald’s!
Tianjin has a rich history and has many examples of old British and Italian architecture. The famous Italian Concession Area has the largest cluster of Old Italian architecture outside of Italy. Other local attractions are the Huanyaguang section of the Great Wall, the Tianjin Eye and Tianjin’s Ancient Culture Street. Outside the city centre is Binhai, which includes Tanggu and TEDA (Tianjin Economic Development Zone). These areas are home to much of Tianjin’s commercial activity and is one of the engines driving the smoking hot Tianjin economy.
While rapidly becoming one of the most developed cities in north China, Tianjin still has maintained its charm. You can soak in the culture by meandering about on a bicycle through one of the small alleyways, dropping into a “mom and pop” store or just by sitting in a quiet park and watching the locals play a friendly game of majiang (mahjong). There are many gorgeous Asian parks in Tianjin including the Tianjin Water Park, Central Park and Renmin Park (People’s Park). Walk through one of these in the morning and you’re bound to see old-folks doing calligraphy, practicing martial arts and playing traditional music.
While living in Tianjin, you will definitely get the full Chinese experience!
For more information about finding teaching jobs in Tianjin, contact ESL Suite today! (http://www.eslsuite.com/)