For a break away from the capital, hopping on the fast trains is the best way to travel. Especially with an ever-expanding map of high-speed rails leading out of Beijing. Whether you love to marvel at historical sights, unwind in nature, or fancy a seaside resort, there is a destination for you.
Best for an urban getaway
A former foreign concession port, Tianjin’s illustrious history makes it a tourist hotspot for its European-style architecture, delicious food, and a laid-back vibe. It’s undoubtedly one of the easiest day trips from Beijing being just a 30-minute train ride away.
Photos: Porcelain House/Wechat
Head for its Ancient Cultural Street which is worth a stop-over for a quick bite of authentic local snack and unique handicrafts. To discover more of its colonial past, head over to the Great Five Avenues in the south of downtown Tianjin. Also worth a look is the Porcelain House, a quirky, work-of-art museum in the old French Concession. The museum was converted from a French style villa, and its radical design – decorated with a copious amount of fragmented antique pieces and broken porcelain – should be on anyone’s to-do list. Come sundown, take in the view of the city from above in the skyline-defining ferris wheel of the Tianjin Eye.
Travel time: 30 minutes
Train times: first train 4.41am (Beijing South Station) last train 10.46pm (Tianjin).
Best for shopping
Photos: Florentia Village
Located on the outskirts of Tianjin, Florentia Village is a mega luxury and fashion outlet mall. It was built to resemble a Renaissance-era Italian city and even has canals reminiscent of Venice’s. Florentia Village is massive and the best bit is that it has got its own fast rail train station which stops almost at its entrance.
A picturesque destination for shopping, the town features many dining spots and entertainment centres, and plentiful of alternative local attractions and scenic spots if you feel like you need a change of scene. Tired of hitting up the shops? Head to the wetland parks that are located just a 30-minute drive away and enjoy fruit picking, water sports and other activities.
Travel time: 21 minutes
Train times: first train 6.22am (Beijing South Station) last train 9.51pm (Wuqing).
Best for natural scenery
For adrenaline junkies, head out to the Baishi Mountain National Park located in the Laiyuan county in Hebei province. It is home to a 95m-long glass-bottomed skyway that is one of the highest in China. Which is perfect for taking in its stunning karst mountainscape that looks like it inspired Avatar.
Take a stroll on the long stretch of concrete walkways hanging on vertical cliffs, and soak in the spectacular views.
Travel time: 3 hours and 47 minutes
Train times: first train 5.12pm (Beijing) last train 6.55am (Laiyuan).
Best for the beach
A short two-hour train ride from Beijing, the coastal city of Qinhuangdao is a great beachside destination. Its coast, Beidaihe, has a coastline stretching over 22 kilometres. Lined with many bars, villas and luxurious holiday resorts, it hosts a plethora of beach activities. Bask in the sun and enjoy diving, sand boarding, grass skiing or surfing.
Travel time: 1 hour and 58 minutes
Train times: first train 7.55am (Beijing South Station) last train 9.26pm(Qinhuangdao).
Best for historic sites
Photos: Mount Tai/Wechat
Another two-hour train ride from Beijing, Mount Tai in Ta’an city in Shandong province, is an ideal visit for those who love history and culture. Arguably one of the most celebrated mountains in China, it’s covered with Confucian and Taoist temples and shrines and is known as a sacred place dating back the last three millennia.
Known for its peculiar geologic structures, it attracts vast numbers of tourists and pilgrims throughout the year. Explore its many towers, pavilions, stone inscriptions and march up to its peak with hundreds of others this summer. Pro tip: if you don’t want to take the five-hour hike up, you can always take the cable car.
Travel time: 2 hours
Train times: first train 8.35am (Beijing South Station) last train 8.55pm (Tai'an)