While we love living in Beijing as much as the next person, there’s no denying that sometimes it does a soul good to take a quick getaway from the capital to a paradisical Southeast Asian beach, a foodie jaunt for fresh sushi in Japan, or a romantic weekend on Jeju Island. Yet sometimes, especially when national holidays are looming on the horizon, prices for such trips seem totally out of reach. Good news for keen travelers, because there’s one small but great trick for anyone wanting to get away without breaking the bank even during peak holiday times: flying out of Tianjin instead.
Flying out of Tianjin Binhai International Airport
Overlooked by many newcomers to Beijing, and even old-timers, Tianjin Binhai International Airport (TSN, 津滨海国际机场) has the benefit of servicing numerous of the country’s low budget airlines: Tianjin Airlines, Spring Airlines, Scoot, and Thai Lion Air, among others. However, that’s not to belittle Tianjin’s own international airport – established in 2014 and located 13km from the city center – given that it connects 52 international and domestic locations.
A quick search of the potential routes out of Tianjin opens up round-trip direct tickets for as little as RMB 1,100 to Jeju Island in Korea, RMB 1,700 to Osaka in Japan, and RMB 1,800 to Phuket in Thailand. The same flights from Beijing International Capital Airport produce prices that are on average 30 to 40 percent more expensive.
To get the best deals, we recommend searching each of the airline’s proprietary websites (most of them have an English version). That way, you can find the best combinations as well as browse discounted tickets. Alternatively, you can check flight aggregator sights like Momondo, Skyscanner, and Trip etc. (always remembering to do so in incognito mode) but be aware that some budget companies may not be listed.
Thanks to the efficiency of China’s fast trains, it takes just 30 minutes to get from Beijing South Station to Tianjin Station (probably less than your average Beijing daily commute) for a cost of just RMB 54.5. Add RMB 3 and a quick 20-minute subway ride from Tianjin Station to the Binhai International Airport station, and in about one hour after leaving Beijing, you’re ready to check in for your flight.
On a recent flight from Tianjin to Osaka for RMB 1,754, I had a smooth experience; check-in and passport control were quick and convenient, and my flight with one of the aforementioned low budget airlines punctual. As an extra point, some of these companies allow check-in baggage of up to 15kg in case you’re looking to hit the shops on the other side.
Being a smaller airport, flight selections are indeed more limited than at Beijing International Capital Airport, but with sweet deals to fly to even further destinations like the UK, Australia, or Russia, plus popular domestic spots such as Sanya, Shanghai, Guangzhou, or Guilin, it’s worth keeping Tianjin in mind as your next holiday departure point.
Want to take the train instead? Read just about everything you need to know about high-speed train travel in China.