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.

Music Monday: Nature Springs – The Good, the Bad, & the Queen

There’s a distinct feeling of spring in the air, so why not kick it off with a song that seems to have little to do with spring. The allegedly unnamed British super group of Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon,  Simon Tong, and Tony Allen (produced by Danger Mouse) formed in 2007 to release the studio album, “The Good, the Bad & the Queen”, for which the band is often mistakenly referred to.

I recall seeing the British super-group perform during a desert wind-storm at Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California. Fantastic show – it’s a pity they blew the band up after just one album. But, nothing fortifies the legacy of a band like having a fan base left begging for more.

Enjoy the music!

Music Monday: “7/4 (Shoreline)” – Broken Social Scene, Live at Amoeba Records

One of the most popular bands to emerge from the Canadian Invasion of the late 90’s, Broken Social Scene (and several of its core members) had a prolific ten year run that started with their 2002 release “You Forgot it in People”. This song is an old standby for me, and the venue is one of my favorite places in LA. In fact, I may have bought this CD at Amoeba way back in 2005 (CD’s – remember those things???).

This is “7/4 (Shoreline)“, from their 2005 self-titled album. Played live at Amoeba Records in Hollywood.

Music Monday: “Inside Out” – Spoon, live on KCRW

Spoon is one of those bands that’s quietly been so good, it’s easy to forget how long they’ve been around. The Austin, Texas five-piece was cool even before Austin, Texas became a hipster/indie-rock hub.

This is “Inside Out”, performed live on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic”. Enjoy!

Music Monday: Chinese “èrhú” concert: Live at the Golden Hall of Vienna

In honor of Chinese New Year and ringing in the “Year of the Sheep”, this week’s Music Monday selection features the instrument most evocative of China: the èrhú. The èrhú is a two-stringed fiddle that has been a staple in Chinese folk music since the 10th Century.

One of the best parts about living in China is going for a stroll in a Chinese park and hearing an èrhú live. This video isn’t quite the same, but pretty darn close. Enjoy!

Music Monday: “Chinese Translation”, M. Ward live in the Bing Lounge

Besides the title, this song has little to do with China, but it’s a pretty darn fantastic song nonetheless. M. Ward is such an immense talent; it seriously looks like he was born with a guitar in his hand.

This is M. Ward performing “Chinese Translation” live in the Bing Lounge.

Music Monday: “Dog Days Are Over”, Florence and the Machine

Forget the coffee – here’s your Monday morning ‘pick-me-up’. Equally haunting, melodic, and sonorous – the vocal range by lead singer Florence Welch is astonishing.

This is “Dog Days Are Over”, by Florence and the Machine, live on the BBC.

Music Monday: The War on Drugs, “Red Eyes” | Live in Barcelona, Spain

Maybe I’m a little late to the party on this one (cut me some slack, I live in China), but does anyone else think these guys sound like Bruce Springsteen? I know, it’s always risky when making comparisons to a legend like the Boss, but c’mon – they’re from Philly, he’s from Jersey….it’s not too big of a stretch, is it?

Disclaimer: You can’t get angry about this post if you haven’t purchased any new music since Brothers in Arms

This is The War on Drugs, performing “Red Eyes” in Barcelona, Spain. From their 2014 album, “Lost in the Dream”. Enjoy!

Music Monday: “Blue Ridge Mountains” – Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes makes really good music; that’s all I have to say about that.

This is a song from their 2008 self-titled studio album, “Fleet Foxes”. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for this live session at the Grand Palais in Paris, France.

Music Monday: “Orange Sky” – Alexi Murdoch

Here’s a tear-jerker by one of my favorite artists, Alexi Murdoch. I have a real soft spot for his music – so much so that I played one of his songs for the bride/groom dance at my wedding.

Hopefully this can treat your terrible case of the “Mondays” – enjoy!