Tianjin is China’s 4th most populous city and one of 4 under direct control of the central government of the People’s Republic of China. The walled city was built in 1404 – back when walled cities were common and technology had not yet surpassed the protection walls offered. During the Qing Dynasty which ran from 1644-1911, European style mansions and other buildings were constructed. Many of those buildings remain in well-preserved condition. Ancient walled cities all over the world are tourist attractions now. Not just city walls either considering the biggest tourist attraction in China is its Great Wall.
The city suffered heavy losses in a 1976 earthquake, but has had much construction and industrial development since then. High speed railway service connects Tianjin to Bejing. The climate is wettest in summer with a possibility of monsoons. Annual precipitation is low with an average of around 20 inches. Winters are cold, dry, and windy. An attempt to reduce the area’s heavy pollution resulted in the 2014 pollution laws that include restrictions on driving and closure of schools and manufacturing facilities on days of heaviest pollution.
Tianjin became a treaty port in 1860, which opened the port for trade with Great Britain and France and ultimately the rest of the world. It remains a major seaport and gateway to Bejing. The port lies in a shallow estuary made into a shipping port through dredging. It’s the largest man-made port in China and one of the largest in the world.
Tianjin Port has the only free trade zone in northern China, established in 1991. It lies 30 km (19 mi) from Tianjin city proper, less than 1 km (0.62 mi) away from the wharf and only 38 km (24 mi) away from Tianjin Binhai International Airport.
Tianjin port is the starting point for cruise ship visitors going to Bejing.
Beijing, the capital of China, has a history tracing back several thousand years, yet still manages to be a bustling modern city. It’s a very popular place for tourism and there are lots of ancient sites to see. Beijing is so large and heavily populated and polluted that human activity actually changed the climate resulting in slower wind speeds, higher temperatures, and lower humidity.
Some of the top attractions include the great wall, forbidden city, Tiananmen Square, summer palace, national stadium, temple of heaven, Ming tombs, Yonghe temple, and Beijing zoo.
Public transportation is available in the form of trains, planes, and busses. Traffic often jams the roads so planes or trains are preferable to busses or taxis.
Tianjin Cruise Ship Port
Although it is called Tianjin, the port lies about 74K (46 miles) from the city, and 30K from Tanggu, the closest city to the port. Bejing is about 110 miles from the port. Tianjin has two cruise ports, the Tinjin Xingang Port Passenger Terminal for mainly domestic cruises and the Tianjin International Cruise Home Port for ships from other countries. The two ports sit about 16 miles away from each other. You can take the bullet train from Tianjin to Bejing, but you have to get to a station first to catch the train. There are closer train stations to the port in Tanggu and Yujiapu, but the train is faster and runs more frequently from Tianjin. There are about 70 miles between Tianjin and Beijing.
Most people go to Bejing rather than touring anything in Tianjin, but it does have some shopping and museums and a ferris wheel. You can book excursions from there to the great wall by train or private tour, but they aren’t cheap.
The port at Tianjin is not close to much of anything. The bus did go past some tall buildings and a trail through some trees, but they were not right at the port. The shuttle from our ship went to Aeon Mall in Tanggu, 40 minutes away. There’s not a lot there for a 40 minute ride, but you can catch a train.
There’s a large terminal building at the port, but there was no wifi or information and maps or money exchange like all the Japanese ports our ship stopped in this cruise had. Print out your maps from the internet or get them from a travel agent before you go if you are planning to explore on your own and bring Chinese yuan with you so you don’t have to hunt down a bank or ATM. Our ship did have money exchange available at guest services, but lines were often quite lengthy as port days approached.
While most public restrooms in China just have squat toilets, the port building in Tianjin also had the normal western sort of toilets that you sit on so people could choose whichever style they feel most comfortable using.
The lower floor where you exit the building when leaving the ship had a couple giant cruise ship models, one of a Costa ship and the other Royal Caribbean. It also had an escalator across the room from the ship models that went up to a section of the second floor balcony overlooking the open space on the first floor. There were a few little stores up there. Mostly crew shop there, but passengers are welcome too. Across the open space from those stores there was a large duty free shop, which you have to walk around the balcony along the open space to get to, at least from where you come into that room where our ship was docked. It looked like the Amsterdam emptied more directly into that area. All the big inviting glass doors into the area with the duty free shop were locked, but there was a small wooden door with pass-through to that area, though it didn’t look as if very many people found it so the duty-free store didn’t get much business that day. Unlike all the tourist attractions that exit through the gift shop, at this port the shops are easily missed.
Unless you are comfortable traveling long distances by public transportation on your own in a foreign country, this is a good port to take a ship’s excursion. The ones our ship offered were pretty pricey, but even the cost of an expensive shore excursion is a lot less than the price of taking another whole trip to China to see the great wall or any of Bejing’s other tourist attractions. Also considerably less than the cost of getting to the next port on your own if you don’t make it back to the ship by all-aboard time.
Excursions from our ship to Bejing included several that went to the great wall. One just went to the wall, one included the Summer Palace and another included Ming Tomb. There were also two that did not go to the wall. One went to the Summer Palace and toured the hutongs of old Bejing by rickshaw and the other was a city tour with a visit to the Forbidden City. Because our ship overnighted in Tianjin, there was also an overnight tour which went to the Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square, Ming Tombs, and the Great Wall, and a 5-day overland tour that cost far more than the cruise itself and caught up to the ship 2 ports away in Shanghai.
Excursions from our ship to Tianjin included a transfer that just brought people there and back leaving them to explore on their own, a Best-of tour going to the Confucius Temple, a museum, and a mansion, and a tour to the Confucius Temple and culture street with replicas of Qing Dynasty architecture.