On the outskirts of Tianjin is a theme park that was built around the first Russian Kiev, a Soviet aircraft carrier that was decommissioned in 1993 and then transformed into a tourist attraction. I’m talking about the Binhai Aircraft Carrier Theme Park, a surprisingly not-so-popular destination in Tianjin!
I decided to read the reviews to check if it was legit, and fortunately it was. And when I suggested that my family visit an aircraft carrier theme park, they were all just as surprised as I was that such a place could exist!
The distance might be one reason why it’s not so popular. It takes about an hour by car to travel there from Tianjin’s city proper, more if the roads are congested. An Uber/Didi ride to the theme park will cost about RMB 400. The cheaper option would be to take the subway until Tanggu, and then hail a cab from there. Interestingly it wasn’t on any of the local tour guides’ suggested places (again most likely due to the distance and the price).
We were still quite far away when the park’s castle-entrance loomed in the distance. As it grew bigger and bigger, my family and I were just wowed.
The castle also served as a ticketing office, and later on we learned that first time entry is a whooping RMB220, accompanied by the theme park’s very own passport. Fortunately it gets cheaper with each succeeding entry: RMB 180 for the second visit, RMB 150 for the third, and—after three years—free, because that means we qualify for the park’s “Tourist Green Card” program. After touring the Kiev later on, each of us received a photo that we had to stick on the photo page of our passport.
Before reaching the aircraft carrier visitors go through the Russian street, where random dancing Russian ladies entertain the curious and roadside snacks and drinks to satisfy the hungry. There’s also a gift shop selling Russian products.
As expected, the aircraft carrier was huge! As we neared the warship I couldn’t help but wonder about its history and the fights it had seen. Like an old grandparent the ship sat there at the dock waiting for visitors to come and visit, to bring life to its once exciting walls.
We were offered a translation device for a fee, which we gently refused. Then off we went to discover what the insides of an aircraft carrier was.
I explored as much as I could, visiting the control rooms and seeing navigation devices I’ve only seen on TV. And look—a machine that teaches you how to steer the ship!
The deck was probably my favorite part of the whole ship, where I got to see a helicopter and fighter jets (whether or not they’re real I’ll leave it up to you to tell me).
I’m looking forward to when my girls grow up and are just as curious about this magnificent ship as I am. This is one place that’s fun to explore with the family!
The Binhai Aircraft Carrier Theme is located at Bagua Beach, Binhai New District in Tianjin. You can also learn more about them on their site here.