Cheap Flights to China

Cheap flights to China can be found from most of the world's major airports to any of the four main hubs for air travel into China:
  • Beijing
  • Shanghai
  • Hong Kong
  • Guangzhou

All of the major international airlines fly to China. China's flagship carrier Air China, offers flights to most of the world's main cities.

Getting to China is nowadays very easy as there are numerous daily non-stop flights from many cities in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and South East Asia, and more routes are added every year.

In addition, Chengdu city is becoming a new up and coming hub in China's Midwest. All of the above main hubs are concentrated in the Eastern coast of China, the development of Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is a major step in connecting China's interior to the rest of the world. Direct flights can be had to Chengdu, which happens to be the gateway to the Giant Pandas, from many countries in South East Asia, Europe and the Middle East, with more coming from the United States and Australia in the very near future.

A combination of factors such as higher oil prices and increased airport taxes throughout the world makes getting cheap flights to China increasingly more difficult. But there are still many ways you can save when booking your air tickets to China.

Here we offer some tips and suggestions that may help you when booking your flight.

Checking for cheap flights to China

Check first what is available online to get an idea of fares around the times you plan to travel. You can use your favourite flight search engine or the TripAdvisor search below which is very easy to use:

Enter any of the major airports of China in the "To" box using one the following codes:

  • For Beijing use PEK
  • For Shanghai use PVG
  • For Hong Kong use HKG
  • For Guangzhou use CAN
  • For Chengdu use CTU

Results will show all flights available and you can quickly compare all the prices, airlines and schedules to help you find the best deals. Make sure you check the schedules, flying times and connections, don't just go with price. Things to watch out for:

  • Sometimes a cheaper flight might require a lenghty connection or worst, an overnight stay at the connecting city, which will add to the cost of the flight if you have to find accommodations.

  • Other times, when connecting at big city hubs, you might fly into one airport (i.e. New York's La Guardia) and your connecting flight might depart from another city airport (New York's Kennedy), which you might be better off avoiding if at all possible.

Cheap Flights to China offered by your local Chinese Travel agent

If you live nearby a city with a sizable Chinese community, the local Chinese Travel agency is one of your best bets. In large cities such as San Francisco, LA, Vancouver, Seattle, New York, London, Sydney or anywhere there is a Chinatown for that matter, it pays to check out the home-town Chinese travel agencies. They have a large Chinese customer base and are able to get excellent deals from the airlines, sometimes blocking a large number of seats at special prices.

You can also find these deals advertised in the local Chinese Newspaper which you normally pick up at your local Chinese grocery store or Chinese restaurant.

Plan your destinations and consider an Open-Jaw ticket

Plan your trip including the destinations you will cover in China to help you decide which airport to fly into and out of China.

Instead of booking a round-trip ticket to/from one city, most airlines will let you fly into one city and out of another one, which will save you time and money by not having to return to the first city where you entered.

On a trip that will cover for example Beijing, Xian, Guilin and Shanghai that starts in Beijing and ends in Shanghai, you would fly from your home city into Beijing and at the end of the trip, fly home from Shanghai, saving the hassle and extra expense of returning to Beijing just to catch a return flight.

In airline lingo this is called an Open-Jaw Ticket, and is popular in the Cruise industry, where cruises start from one city and end in another one. The airfare on an open-jaw ticket to China would normally be set as the average of the round-trip fares from the home city to the two different destinations in China, definitely lower than buying two separate one-way tickets.

The same requirements for round-trip cheap flights to China apply to open-jaw fares such as advance purchase and minimum stay requirements.

How to book an Open-Jaw ticket to China? You can book your open-jaw flight online. An open-jaw ticket can be booked online through many of the travel search engines. You enter it as a "multi-city" or "multi-destination" trip.

You can use the TripAdvisor search above as well to check for open-jaw tickets, just choose the "multi-city" option.

Other Considerations when Booking your Flight to China

Remember a China Visa is needed upon entry by most visitors. If you are planning on adding Hong Kong to your itinerary, keep in mind that Hong Kong is treated as a Special Administrative Region and is considered separate from Mainland China.

A visit to Hong Kong should therefore be scheduled either at the beginning or end of your trip to avoid any problems with additional entry visas. If your Hong Kong trip is scheduled in between other China cities, you will need to secure a double or multiple entry visa (different rules apply if you are only in-transit). Click here for more on China Visas

How about Domestic Flights in China? How Can I Book those?

If you want to check schedules and fares for your China Domestic Flights in your itinerary, although the above "Multi-City" tool might return some results, you are better off using a search engine that specializes in China Domestic Flights.

The major player for online travel services in China including China Domestic Flights is Ctrip.com. They own half of China's online travel services, and with over 12,000 employees, half of which are stationed in call centers to help with the occasional stranded traveler with any travel request, customer service is high on their agenda.

Ctrip is China's leading flight ticketing service, they book over 2 million tickets monthly and service all Chinese and major international airlines.

You can book your China domestic flights ahead of time using Ctrip's search engine which works just like all other travel search engines, prices are set in Renminbi, the local Chinese currency (to convert to your local currency see Chinese Money and Currency Converter here), you pay with a credit card and an e-ticket is issued.

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