If your cruise includes a shore excursion from the Tianjin International Ferry Port, then you'll have the option to travel to Beijing. The trip from one to the other will take a couple of hours by road, though you should plan for traffic so that you're not disappointed if you've booked a tour or tickets to a show. Alternatively, hop on to the high-speed train for a half-hour journey into the impressive historic city. Once there, you'll have time to view world famous landmarks, attractions to suit all interests, and beautiful landscaped parks that surround Beijing's temples.
Beijing is just over an hour from the Great Wall of China. With enough time on your shore excursion, you can book on to one of the organised tours that take you to this world-famous monument. You'll pass some beautiful scenery, and will learn about the history of the area. Beijing itself is one of the most populous cities in the world, where the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City are amongst the well-known attractions that you won't want to miss. Opera shows at the city's theatres are impressive, though nothing can beat the colour and drama of a Chinese festival. There are many throughout the year, though you're guaranteed to find plenty to see and do whenever you visit the city:
Read More Ming Dynasty Tombs
In total there are 13 Ming Dynasty Emperors buried in tombs at the top of the 7km Spirit Way. Enjoy a peaceful stroll, and the chance to view native plants and beautiful carvings and statues, as you make your way to this site chosen by Emperor Yongle.
At least five million people visit Beijing Zoo each year. More than 500 species of animal are housed within the zoo's grounds, which have been carefully designed with landscaped gardens.
A focal point, and the site of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests, this is a monument that draws tens of thousands of visitors each year. Many important events have taken place at the ‘Square of Heavenly Peace', and it's considered one of the most historically significant places in the world.
Shopping in Beijing
Many of Beijing's shops are tailored towards the millions of tourists that visit the city each year. Jade carvings are a very popular souvenir purchase, as are mah-jong sets that will keep you occupied for hours after departure from the port. You'll find cheap CDs and DVDs in abundance, as it's legal to sell counterfeits. Often they're high quality, and available with English audio. The city has a large number of busy markets, where you're expected to haggle to get a good deal on your purchase.
If you're looking to make high-end purchases then you'll want to go to official shops rather than buying from the streets or from small independent stores. Some counterfeit items are so close to the real thing that you'd never notice the difference, but you should assume that if something is much cheaper than you'd pay at home then it's probably a replica rather than an official product. Alternatively, purchase a silk rug or carpet as these are crafted in Beijing and are authentic items that you can buy with confidence.
Eating out in Beijing
Beijing is also known as Peking, and is the home of Peking duck. That's one dish that you'll find on a majority of menus, in authentic Beijing restaurants and sold from street stands tailored to working residents and tourists. You're also likely to find lamb and mutton dishes, which range from kebabs to stews and hotpots. Vegetarian diners will find many options to suit, with the Confucius Temple binge home to an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet that might tempt you to the attraction.
For food on the go, you can buy delicious savoury pancakes which often include a crispy batter and are served with spicy sauces. These are available from street stands and carts, and are a favourite with locals as well as visitors. Otherwise, for more familiar flavours, choose from American restaurants serving burgers, American-style pizzas and Texas BBQ meats. If you have time, and are feeling brave, then make a point of visiting the Donghuamen Night Market before returning to your cruise ship. Here, you'll find speciality items ranging from scorpion to lizard, along with a selection of insects of all shapes and sizes.