Flying to Chongqing and Tianjin

By | Category: Travel destinations
Tianjin © CNTO

Tianjin © CNTO

Every country and part of the UK wants more Chinese visitors. Now there is now another direct link for them – and us to use.

From June 25th, an airline not many of us will have come come across before – Tianjin Airlines – will provide a service to the Chinese cities of Chongqing and Tianjin from Gatwick.

To kick-off the flights, the airline has used two numbers, 7 and 9, in its launch, seven being a number that traditionally represents harmony for the Chinese and the number nine represents eternal love.

The numbers come in because the air fare for the first two inaugural flights will cost £7 for the outward bound flight and £9 for the return flight. But before you get too excited and storm their website or telephone lines, once you add on taxes it means the  journey will cost £342. Its still verygood value but those taxes do mount up and this shows better than many figures just how much tax airline passengers pay in the world.

tianjin-airlinesAside from the fares what are the chief reasons why you might fly to these two cities? Robert Chen, UK General Manager for Tianjin Airlines, says that it opens up still largely unexplored area of China for British travellers.

Tianjin is in the north east of China and about ninety miles south east of  Beijing. Surprisingly, it is also the home of Beijing Opera. European visitors might wonder whether they aren’t back home because the government has protected buildings from colonial times so you will see a French chateau and French style buildings in one part of the city, in another Bavarian style brick houses and in yet another, Italianate villas. The British part can be found to the east of the city. It has its equivalent of the London Eye but it is built across a river instead of beside it. It also has a market area called Yangliuqing from where come some of the most beguiling woodcuts – a tradition still continued that you will ever see.  Even the cuisine and dialect is different from that which you will experience in its close neighbour, Beijing.

Chongqing ©CNTO

Dazu rock carvings near Chongqing ©CNTO

Chongqing, by contrast, is in the south west of China and is larger than Tianjin having over 18 million people living in the area. Being a river port on the Yangtze, cruise ships have made it one of the highlights of river cruises and of the Three Gorges Dam. Today there is a museum in the city paying tribute to the river and the dam. As the provisional capital of China from 1937-1945, it was an important allied base during WWII so there are many monuments and museums linked to that time such as the General Joseph W Stilwell Museum.  But the wonder must be the Dazu Rock Carvings which consist of over seventy sites where carvings date back some 1400 years. Everyone knows the terracotta warriors of Xi’an.  Forty miles from Chongqing are some 50,000 statues which today constitute a UN World Heritage Site.

Initially the flights will only operate twice a week. That may alter as more of us explore these less well-known tourist areas of China.

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