Tianjin got it's start as a hub along the famous canal designed to usher valuable water to the country's major cities. What was thus a nothing town along an important route soon flourished into a magnificent and industrial town full of promise. The city began expanding in the 14th century and hasn't seemed to abate, and has even morphed into one of the largest cities by population and sprawl in China. Plus, it's a great way to get out of Beijing and see something new.
Tianjin City — Photo courtesy of Tianjin Tours
The fastest and best way to get to Tianjin is by high-speed train. The train departs hourly from Beijing Station and arrives at the half hour before returning. The sheer number of trains means it's not difficult to get a spot on one of these monoliths of transportation. Additionally, the train is a fun, unique way to travel in China, and one that is safer than the roads or cab systems.
What to See:
Of course the industrial parts of the city are not as exciting as the aspects designed to lure in tourists. You'll want to start your time in Tianjin by hitting the oddest of highlights, the China House, a lovely mansion covered from foundation to roof in over seven-hundred million pieces of porcelain and ceramic china. It's such a strange sight that it's become a popular meeting point in the city.
From there, venture to the Boxer Rebellion Museum. This important turning point in Chinese history is one of the most interesting for tourists, who often heard stories from afar about the devastation wrought on by the rebellion. See the evidence first hand while in Tianjin. If you have time to hit up only one museum, the Boxer Rebellion Museum is a more interesting and off-the-beaten-path option than the somewhat rundown Tianjin Museum.
The Dabei Monastery is one of the more impressive of religious structures in the city, and a delightful place to relax in the summer heat. Once a thriving monastery, it now caters to tourists who add cash to the system of keeping piousness alive. For a mid-afternoon relaxing adventure, this is an option that won't leave you unfulfilled.
If you have time, compare the Tianjin Zoo to its larger counterpart in Beijing. Both offer the rare opportunity to get quite close to the animals, and these unobstructed views are cherished by real animal lovers from around the globe.
When to Go:
Weekends are a great time to get out of Beijing. The capital city is crowded, especially in the hot summer months, and long lines mean you'll enjoy your stay less. Instead, use the weekend to get to Tianjin and enjoy the coastal breeze and see something new. From early to late August, the monsoon season could make this an exciting, albeit wet experience, so keep that in mind if you'll be traveling in the wet season. Aside from that, Tianjin operates year round, with exciting reasons to go there really is no time like the present.