How to Get to China
China is accessible through the major international transport hubs of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Airplane is the usual mode of entry, but arrival by boat or overland is also possible.
Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai are China’s best-served international airports, receiving direct worldwide flights. But, Guangzhou is seeing increasing international traffic and can offer
some of the cheapest flights.
While many of China’s other city airports can take international traffic, they are predominantly served by flights from within the country and Asia. In recent years a number of budget Asian carriers like Air Asia (www.airasia.com) and Tiger Airways (www.tigerairways.com) have emerged, flying to airports such as Macau, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, which have substantially reduced prices from destinations such as Bangkok and Singapore.
Peak travel times (and therefore the highest flight prices) include the run up to Chinese New Year, midsummer and, in Hong Kong, the few weeks before Christmas.
If you want to look for the cheapest details, some online booking agents are worth checking out.
The following airlines fly from the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand to China and Hong Kong:
- Air China (www.airchina.com)
- Cathay Pacific (www.cathaypacific.com )
- China Airlines (www.china-airlines.com )
- Eva Air (www.evaair.com)
From the USA & Canada
Direct flights from the West Coast to China take about 13 hours. From the East Coast, you’ll need to add a few hours and a couple of hundred dollars.
The airlines listed below all operate direct flights from the US and Canada.
- Air Canada (www.aircanada.com)
- American Airlines (www.aa.com)
- China Southern Airlines (www.cs-air.com/en)
- JAL (Japan Airlines, www.jal.co.jp/en)
- Korean Air (www.koreanair.com)
- Northwest Airlines (www.nwa.com)
- United Airlines (www.ual.com)
From theUK& Europe
Many of Europe’s capital cities are linked by direct flights to China, which take between 10 and 12 hours Airlines that fly from Europe to China include:
- Aeroflot (www.aeroflot.ru )
- Air France (www.airfrance.com )
- British Airways (www.ba.com )
- Gulf Air (www.gulfairco.com )
- KLM (www.klm.com )
- Lufthansa (www.lufthansa.com )
- Oasis Air (www.oasishongkong.com )
- Virgin Atlantic (www.fly.virgin.com)
From Australia & New Zealand
Direct flights from Australia take between nine and 12 hours to reach China. New Zealand is less well served but there are still direct flights, although you may want to travel to Australia and then on from there.
- Air New Zealand (www.airnz.com)
- Jetstar (www.jetstar.com)
- Qantas (www.qantas.com)
Once more : If you want to look for the cheapest deals, some web sites of online booking agents are to be visited.
The most popular overland routes into China are from the north through Mongolia, from the south through Vietnamand Laos, and from the west through Nepal into Tibet, but it’s also possible to get into Xinjiang from Pakistan and the CentralAsianRepublics along the old Silk Route. Note that for most of these countries you’ll need to obtain a visa in advance.
You can book train tickets for the Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Siberian Expresses in Beijing, but to be sure of a berth, it’s worth booking in advance. Monkey Business (www.monkeyshrine.com ) can arrange train tickets and connections online and can also help you obtain a Mongolian or Russian visa.
Heading to or from Laos or Vietnam there are several border crossings through Guangxi and Yunnan provinces that are open to foreigners. There are trains to Hanoi from Beijing, Guilin and Nanning or you can take a bus to Jinghong and then on to Mengla to cross into Laos.
Not many people arrive in China by ship, but it is still a possibility and Shanghai is served by ferries from Japan, while cruise liners call in at Hong Kong. Cruises last from a couple of weeks to months, but they generally only spend a few days docked at Hong Kong and cost in the thousands of dollars. Cruise companies that run to Hong Kong include:
- Cunard (www.cunard.com)
- P&O (www.pocruises.com)
- Princess (www.princess.com)
- Seabourn (www.seabourn.com)
- Star (www.starcruises.com)
See also: How to get around, City travel
Why visit China
Top Destinations in China
When to go to China
History of China
Food in China
City & region guide
Beijing travel guide
Xi’an travel guide
Shanghai travel guide
Suzhou travel guide
Other places in China
The Chinese Language
Culture, Music and Opera
Events and festivals
China travel guide homepage
Cities and regions of China homepage