Five Great Avenues' architectural adventure
Wudadao District, or the Five Great Avenues, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tianjin. The five parallel avenues are named Machang, Munan, Dali, Changde and Chongqing. And, covering almost 1.28 square kilometers, the area is regarded as the most complete collection of foreign-style architecture in Tianjin, and maybe even nationwide.
Many of the villas in the area are cultural heritage sites, and you will find former residences of many well-known figures, such as politician Xu Shichang (1855-1939), former US president Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), and Zhang Boling (1876-1951), founder of Nankai University.
Wudadao District is home to more than 2,000 garden-style houses, including over 230 villas in a beautiful cluster of different architectural styles that include Renaissance, Greek, Gothic and Roman.
Many of the area’s buildings and villas were built between the 1920s and 1930s. And at the entrance of these constructions you can scan a QR code and learn their story.
Visitors can even take a horse ride outside Minyuan Plaza for a quick tour if they are pushed for time.
The Minyuan Plaza is stunning at first sight. It was rebuilt in 2012 on a stadium site originally designed by former British Olympian Eric Liddell some 90 years ago.
Liddell once lived in Chongqing Avenue. Nowadays, it serves as a comprehensive public facility equipped with a running track, lawns, seating areas and multiple business outlets.
The plaza has become a popular destination for tourists and locals. You may be surprised at the number of food stands nearby.
A teddy-themed Lawson convenience store is also located inside the plaza. It can be accessed from both inside the plaza and from Dali Avenue.
You can find some nice teddy bear statues and a London bus and taste several delights including seasonal delicacies like moon cakes, popular desserts and other tasty treats.
Looking for a proper afternoon tea experience? Check Juyuan Garden, a Japanese wagashi boutique opposite the Minyuan Plaza.
Boasting Japanese-style decor both indoors and outdoors, customers have to book ahead if they want to reserve an afternoon tea table.
Set menus are available, such as a single set menu for 58 yuan (US$8.67), which will include a matcha drink and a wagashi (under 32 yuan) of your choice.
The single experience set menu (88 yuan) will provide customers with a kimono costume and accessories for your hair. It’s a fun activity and provides plenty of photo opportunities.
Looking for a nice cup of coffee? You won’t be disappointed with the district.
Several bed and breakfast places and guesthouses in Wudadao District have borrowed a concept from overseas, offering a cup of coffee with meals and refreshments for both walk-in and overnight guests.
For example, Journey Coffee X Airbnb is hidden in a side alley just off Dali Avenue.
It offers set menus for lunch and a wide range of choices on drinks and desserts.
The courtyard seating area is lovely, while its decor on the upper floor is in sharp contrast to the former, although a yellow color is noticeable throughout the joint.
There are so many cafes either hidden in villas or standing quietly along the road. Chongqing Avenue houses many cafes alongside some unique boutiques and vintage stores.
Celebrating its first anniversary, milch.t is a milk tea shop designed in a minimalist decor style. The shop offers nice window seats with a street view.
If the weather permits, a gentle autumn breeze could accompany your teatime experience. If you love a Chinese-style milk tea, try the mung bean milk tea.
Coffice is another quirky coffee shop that has been in existence for over 10 years, while Rester Cafe & Pub offers good meals with a number of coffees and beverages.
You can either find some comfort food that reminds you of your home country or simply get a coffee to wake you up.
Share Vintage is right next to the Rester Cafe & Pub, where you may find some second-hand luxury pieces.
Moi Cafe and Coffee in-Crowd is now combined into one store. It catches your attention with its unique outdoor seats — camping chairs and tables with shades. You can pretend you’re on holiday and share a lazy moment with friends and family. The bonus is that the barista makes good coffee.
There are several good choices here from espresso-based drinks to pour-over coffees. If you come over in the evening, the backlight of FAEMA E61 espresso machine will catch your eye.
Walking down the avenues and side roads of the Wudadao area will make you gasp.
The old and new buildings and villas are well preserved, while there is a diverse amount of business outlets that are booming and growing.
Foodies must try the local street snacks such as mahua (fried dough twist) and jianbingguozi, a Tianjin-style pancake.
A visit to the Wudadao District is a wonderful experience that will live long in the memory. Come check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
Teddy Bear Lawson (Convenience store)
Address: Minyuan Plaza, Dali Avenue
Time: All day
Address: Gate 52, 52 Chongqing Avenue
Tel: 137-5212-0790 (booking)
Journey Coffee X Airbnb
Address: 8 Yishengli, 16 Dali Avenue
Time: 10am-8pm (cafe)
milch • t
Address: Room 101, 163 Chongqing Avenue
Rester Cafe & Pub
Address: 177 Chongqing Avenue
Address: 175 Chongqing Avenue
Moi Cafe and Coffee in-Crowd
Address: 197 Chongqing Avenue