Study in Tianjin
Tianjin (天津) is a municipality in China.
Despite its size and importance as a port, the city lacks the vitality of other large Chinese coastal cities, and has been unable to attract the same degree of investment as places such as Guangzhou and Shanghai. However, new development is increasing rapidly and Tianjin is now catching up to nearby cities such as Beijing.
Founded in 1904, the Tianjin bus system was the first in China, and today the city is well served by its public transportation. Within the city, traveling on a bus line less than 12 kilometers will cost 1.5 yuan, while 1 yuan will cover a journey on a line over 12 kilometers - even if you travel less than 12 kms but on a line that is over this distance, the cost is still 1 yuan. It's well worth your time to look up popular bus routes. And the buses are all comfortable and clean.
The old Tianjin metro was suspended in 2001, but after refurbishing was re-opened on 28 May 2006. In addition, a light railway line runs between the urban area of Zhongshanmen to the seaside area Donghailu in TEDA.
Taxis are abundant, and the price is not high. The flag fall for 3 kilometers is 8 yuan, and then a further 1.5 yuan is added for every kilometer after that. Taxis also charge for the time while the vehicle is stationary at 1.5 yuan for every five minutes (cost is exempt for less than five minutes. However, it is strongly recommended that you do not take a taxi from near the railway station. See note under By Car section about how to avoid train station taxis. The same advice applies at tourist stops -- it is best to walk a few blocks to a regular street to catch a metered taxi. Do not support non-metered taxi drivers! There are plenty, plenty of legal taxis.
You can rent a taxi for the day or even for a few hours. When we went to Tangdu, we paid the driver to wait for the 2 hours it took us to tour the harbor area. She was happy to wait, and the cost was less than 100 Yuan ($10-15 USD).
Another caution about taxis is that there are toll roads in some parts of China. In a taxi, you will be expected to pay the base fare plus the toll fee. The driver pays the toll and receives a receipt at the toll booth. At your destination, you ask for the receipt(s) and pay that amount plus the base fare. If you are going a long way, you may also be asked to pay for the return toll fee. That is a legitimate request, although you could argue that the driver will pick up another fare to pay for the toll anyway. You may or may not succeed with the driver.
Lastly, tipping taxi drivers is a Western trait. Most local Chinese do not tip except for exceptional service. You will not be treated poorly if you cannot afford to tip or to tip much. We tipped when drivers did not use their horns and followed the rules of the road, which is a novelty. We also tipped when we had baggage that the driver loaded or unloaded for us. We also tipped more at the beginning of our trip before we learned the local way.
Don't be afraid of the train, either. The fast train between Tianjin and Beijing is a bargain and is comfortable with plush seats and bi-lingual announcements. If you take an older train, buy a group of 4 or 6 tickets all seated together. Otherwise, you may find yourself on a bench with 3-5 strangers pressed up against you for the ride. Booths on the train come in sets of 4 or 6 seats. If you're a tourist, no one will blink an eye at your extravagence (though it only amounts to $4-6 USD for the entire ride). Bring your own food and drinks, although all the trains provide hot, safe water for tea and noodle bowls. Only the fast train has a Western style toilet. You don't want to know what the old trains have.
Buy a good translator, preferably after arriving in Tianjin, as the prices are about 1/2 what they are in the U.S. Also, most restaurants have a picture menu where you can point and order.
There are Tianjin tourist maps with destinations written in Chinese characters and English. Pointing at where you want to go will get you a long way with Taxi Drivers. It might be a good idea to take a magnifying glass along -- many of the drivers have trouble with the small print.
Learn the hand gestures for numbers that sellers and buyers use for negotiating. Always carry a pen and paper, too.
Learn the city bus routes for popular destinations (and especially for leaving the train stations and other tourist areas where taxis might try to rip you off).