China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations, with a recorded history dating back 5,000 years. It’s most famous national treasures are almost as old. The Great Wall was first built in the 7th century, the Terra-Cotta Warriors were buried in 210BC, and Suzhou, China’s Venice, is 2,500 years old. In recent years, China has been modernizing at breakneck speed, and more and more airlines have been offering airline tickets to China for both business and leisure travelers.
China’s neon-bathed cities—Beijing and Shanghai in particular, but Hong Kong too—are the destinations to seek for the best in new design, restaurants, bars, shops, galleries and hotels.
Outside the cities, nature reserves and national parks show China’s diversity of landscapes. From plateaus and mountains in the west to lower lands in the east and huge rivers, the landscapes provide habitats for its animals, most famously the Wolong Nature Preserve—China’s largest panda reserve.
China boasts a mouthwatering variety of food; in the south rice and prawns, in the west spicy lamb, and in the north, duck. More than a country, China is a feast for the senses.
Find a cheap flight to China and start exploring one of the most unique countries in the world. Some of the greatest thinkers and philosophers of our time originated from China, and many of their ancient beliefs are still practiced around the world today. Still, the country is modernizing at a faster-than-usual pace. It’s likely on your plane ride to China that most of the items keeping travelers occupied during the flight were produced and manufactured there.
In 1949 the Communist Party took control of China, which then became the People’s Republic of China. Today, the country boasts more of everything than one can possibly imagine. First time travelers booking airline tickets to China will revel in China’s imperial landscape, including: The Great Wall, the Yangtze River, the Silk Road, Tiananmen Square, and 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Step off your flight to China and step into a world where anything is possible. Thanks to the millions of travelers who book trips to China every year, whether for business or pleasure, China remains one of the world’s greatest travel destinations.
China is a very large country, with climates ranging from tropical and subtropical in the south to subarctic in the north and the Himalayan mountain range. The southern coast has heavy rains, with lighter rains in the west. The monsoon season lasts from July through September and affects the southern coasts. The north has warm, dry days and cool evenings while the south has cooler but more humid days.
The peak domestic travel seasons, when the Chinese travel, include Chinese New Year, Labor Day, and National Day. The New Year occurs in January/February. The Labor Day and National Day dates vary, but are around May 1 and October 1. Hong Kong’s high season is October through December. Despite the heat and humidity, summer is the peak season to book flights to China for a tour of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
Hong Kong’s off seasons are summer and winter. Conventions and trade fairs, however, book the best hotels, particularly in March and April. Winter in Beijing and Shanghai is the off season, and hotels offer substantial discounts. The best time to visit is autumn when the weather is gorgeous and there are few tourists.
You’ll find the best time to book flights to China vary quite a bit, depending where you plan to visit. Wherever the destination, you should aim to secure your flight tickets at least 3 to 4 months in advance (or even earlier if you can). If you’re on a budget then definitely avoid special events and festivals as these will see the price of your flight tickets increase dramatically. Autumn is a great time to visit and you’ll find cheap flights to China are easier to come by, especially if you do some planning in advance. Flexibility is the key to finding the cheapest flights to China, so if you can pick and choose virtually any major destination on almost any date, you should be able to find some great deals.
China has quite a few popular cities, and flight time depends exactly where you’re going. On a flight landing at Beijing Capital International Airport, the busiest in the country, you’re looking at a flight time of about 12 hours from Los Angeles, 14 hours from Chicago and just over 16 hours from New York.
It’s easy to find flights to China, as American, Delta and United Airlines all fly there directly. Other airlines with direct flights from the United States to China are Hawaiian Airlines and Air China. Looking for flights from an international location? Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Swiss are a few of your many options.
Your destination in China and the time of year play a large role in what you bring clothing-wise, because the climate can vary quite a bit. Comfortable shoes are a must, and t-shirts, slacks, jeans and jackets are versatile choices. For colder times of year, make sure you have a heavy sweater or coat, especially if you’re visiting northern China. Don’t forget a power convertor to charge your electronic devices, as China has a 220-volt electrical system.
The Airport Express is the quickest and easiest method of transport to get you to the city from the airport, taking around 25 minutes and running as often as every 10 minutes. The only other way would be to hail a taxi outside the airport, but these can get very expensive—especially if you have a lot of baggage—as the price increases with each bag you have.
The airport is about 19 miles away from downtown and there are a variety of different transport options from which to choose. First is the bus service. There are around 10 different airport buses that provide routes to the city; however buses in Shanghai can be very crowded and often difficult to understand without prior experience. Another option is the train which operates most of the day and only takes 8 minutes. It’s fast and hassle-free once you’ve got your bearings about where to disembark. Don’t get this confused with Subway Line 2, which also goes to the city but requires you to change over to a different shuttle during the journey.
Taxis are another option and are relatively popular for traveling throughout Shanghai, however, you might find it easier to take a train to and from the airport, and then rely on taxis for any transportation throughout the city.
Flying is the best way to cover large distances in China. With more than 470 airports and international and regional carriers, China flights are frequent and reduced fares are available.
Buses sometimes provide faster service than trains. Trains range in service from express with all the services to slower and no-frills options.
Foreign visitors are allowed to drive only within the city limits of Beijing and Shanghai and in Hong Kong. But few visitors feel renting a car is worth the hassle and headache of driving in Chinese traffic; not to mention trying to park.
Major cities have an abundance of taxis and public transportation systems. Taxis tend to be inexpensive and popular with visitors. Hong Kong’s public transportation is excellent and includes ferries, the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), Light Rail Transit, and double-decker buses. Shanghai’s and Beijing’s subways provide fast transport around town and are crowded during rush hour.
Bicycling is popular in Beijing and Shanghai, but watch out for traffic! In Hong Kong and Xi’an cycling is considered suicidal in the more heavily trafficked areas.
You don’t need to worry about running out of things to see in China, as the country has so many amazing attractions that it’s impossible to visit them all in a single trip. The Great Wall has stood for thousands of years and may be China’s most legendary landmark, so it’s worth your time to check it out and experience a significant piece of Chinese history.
If you’re in the Henan Province, pay a visit to the Shaolin Monastery, where you’re greeted by an enormous statue of a Shaolin monk. You have the option of a guided tour or exploring the temple on your own. Don’t miss one of the exciting kung fu shows to see dazzling martial arts feats.
Right at the center of Beijing lies the Forbidden City, which is an imperial palace that was in use for almost 500 years. It’s closed on Mondays, but on any other day you can take a tour, check out historic items and see where China’s royal families once lived.
Animal lovers should make sure to visit Chengdu, one of the largest cities in China. While it has a lively downtown area, the must-see attraction there is the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. You don’t just get to see giant pandas – you can cuddle with one of the babies. It’s as adorable as it sounds, and the best time to go is weekday mornings. There’s less of a crowd, and pandas tend to be active in the morning before napping in the afternoon.
(prices quotes are from London)