The centre of the Jazz Age in China, Tianjin city is where the last emperor was exiled following his eviction from the Forbidden City. A transportation hub since the Tang dynasty (618-907) as well as a flashpoint during the Opium Wars, Tianjin has incorporated European and Russian influences to create an architecturally diverse landscape. Not to be missed are the Grand Mercy Monastery, one of the largest Zen temples in China; the Grand Mosque dating from 1644; the Roman-style Xikai (Catholic) Church built in 1917; and the Dule Temple, which has survived 28 earthquakes and houses the 16-meter high, eleven-faced Bodhisattva. Every May, Tianjin also hosts the weeklong China Rose Festival when the local colors are in full bloom, so enjoy la vie en rose with an evening boat tour along the Hai River. And don’t forget to snack on guifaxiang, a special fried dough twist for which Tianjin is known throughout China. The fast train put in for the 2008 Olympics links Tianjin with Beijing in 30 minutes and driving time is around two and half hours.