Tianjin’s allure beckons Beijing’s urbanites for a weekend escape
Dive into tranquility
Published: Aug 31, 2023 11:14 PM
Tianjin diving uncles and grandpas attract massive visitors. Photo: VCG

Tianjin diving uncles and grandpas attract massive visitors. Photo: VCG

Tianjin, a city known for its historical charm and vibrant modernity, has recently found itself in the travel spotlight yet again thanks to the daring diving practices of its senior citizens into the Haihe River. 

The water acrobatics performed by these uncles and grandpas have attracted a considerable influx of visitors, including foreign tourists, to witness the elderly divers in action or even to join the activity. The diving performances at Haihe River's Shizilin Bridge and Beian Bridge have turned these locations into trending destinations.

Well before this new wave of attention, Tianjin, neighboring Beijing, had been a beloved destination for residents of the capital city. On Chinese lifestyle app Xiaohongshu, over 40,000 posts can be found under the keyword "Beijing Tianjin Travel," offering tips, travel guides and experiences for venturing from Beijing to Tianjin. 

A 100-kilometer distance, a swift half-hour ride on the high-speed train, allows weary urbanites to momentarily escape the hustle and bustle of city life and find solace in a quick weekend retreat.

From the delectable cuisine to captivating sights and a slower pace of life, all offered at a reasonable cost, the city has become Beijing working class' preferred weekend destination.

An eclectic blend

With a mere 2 hours and 35 minutes by slow train at a budget-friendly starting price of 19.5 yuan ($2.68) and a high-speed train slashing the travel time to a brief half-hour, with tickets available from just 38.5 yuan, travel between Beijing and Tianjin is remarkably convenient. 

Located along the coast of the Bohai Sea, Tianjin leverages its close maritime proximity to the sea as a significant attraction. Various Xiaohongshu posts have vividly depicted individuals making the journey from the capital to savor the alluring seaside vistas. Reveling in an array of sea-centric activities such as beachcombing, frolicking in the sands, and enjoying the delectable offer of seafood, these travelers find respite in Tianjin's coastal allure.

Moreover, Tianjin boasts an eclectic blend of rich historical heritage and contemporary dynamism. Strolling through the Italian-style district makes one feel transported to a quaint European town, while the ancient cultural quarters beckon with traditional street scenes, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in time-honored customs. 

The city's cuisine is also diverse, spanning from an array of seafood dishes to the distinctive jianbing (a type of pancake) and the iconic goubuli baozi (steamed stuffed buns). 

From high-end shopping centers to bustling markets offering a myriad of goods, the city caters to various spending preferences for shoppers. With a cost of living lower than Beijing's, Tianjin provides a shopping haven with exceptional value, allowing weekend retail therapy to be both enjoyable and affordable. 

A weekend oasis

For the hardworking denizens of Beijing, a short weekend getaway to Tianjin serves as a soothing balm after a demanding workweek. Here, they can relish in culinary delights, explore history, unwind their minds, and briefly escape the grind. Hence, Tianjin has become their sanctuary of leisure, offering a realm of ease and contentment.

27-year-old Wang journeyed to Tianjin with her friend over a weekend in April, leaving behind an unforgettable travel experience. 

In just two days, they explored Tianjin's renowned landmarks such as the Italian-style street, Five Great Avenues historical urban area, ancient cultural streets, and China's last emperor Puyi's former residence. 

While Wang initially intended to dine at famed local eateries, the crowd led them to a local restaurant, yet even then, the flavors were exceptional. She added what impressed her deeply was that the locals are very passionate about their city and take pride in their hometown. Those friendly conversations with taxi drivers during their rides also made her feel the warm hospitality of the locals.

"I find Tianjin ideal for short trips. The city isn't vast, so most attractions can be covered in a brief span of time," Wang shared with the Global Times. Wandering through the streets allowed her to experience a newfound tranquility, enabling her to fully appreciate the surroundings and the people. This trip, she said, truly offered relaxation to them.

The recent sensation of elder divers taking leaps off bridges has added yet another viral attraction to the city. Hundreds of people would lean on the railings to watch them dive, and these grandpas, embodying Tianjin city's other signature entertainment - xiangsheng, or crosstalk comedian shows - would make a funny speech to the audience before the plunge.

The local cultural and tourism authorities responded that they would explore ways to incorporate this vibrant activity into their promotional efforts of local tourism.

Many Weibo users expressed their desire to travel to Tianjin, with one saying "I've already added watching the grandpas dive in Tianjin to my bucket list." 

Tianjin's allure, bridging the gap between tradition and modernity, tranquility and excitement, remains an undeniable draw for both the weary and the curious, cementing its status as a cherished weekend escape for Beijing's urbanites.