Flying to China from the U.S.
When you fly to China, you will likely either arrive in Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong. Airlines from the United States, at least, only serve these cities. To my knowledge, there are direct flights from Chicago, San Francisco, and Newark on United Airlines. American Airlines also has direct flights from Chicago as well as Los Angeles. Delta Airlines has direct flights from Detroit and Atlanta. Otherwise, you would probably have a layover in Tokyo. Check out the web site below or any travel booking site for the most recent information.Related to:
- Budget Travel
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- School Holidays
Beijing Metro was officially opened to the public in 1969. It is the busiest subway system in China and the second longest after Shanghai Metro. Beijing Metro has approximately 200 kilometrs of subway tracks. There are a total of eight lines today.
Beijing Metro is undergoing rapid expansion to meet the needs of the local population as well as the increasing number of foreign tourists especially after the successful hosting of the 29th Beijing Olympiad by China. Beijing Metro attracts approximately three million passengers per day.Related to:
Nighttrains in China
For long distances (more than 8 hrs.) I only use nighttrains in China. Convenient and cheap too. Also don't need a hotel for that night. Four person cabin is more private, but sleeping without cabin gives more opportunity to meet locals. Washing (no privacy) and toilet is very basic.
Used the HS line from Beijing to Shanghai 2 weeks ago. Only 8 hours with one stop in Nanjing. Much better and cheaper than a (first class) plane. Lots of (leg)space (also in 2nd class) and decent spacious toilet.
First Class 935Rmb/p.p. Cheaper possible by using a train that stops at more stations but of course will take more time.Related to:
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Pre-booking with C-Trip
I've used C-trip before while living/working in China. I never had any issues with them. However, you cannot book tickets earlier than 4~5 weeks. Prices quoted prior to that are a forecast.
Please note that depending on the airline that operates the final flight, paper tickets may be required. If so, you must be able to either supply a delivery address in China or make arrangements for ticket pick-up at the airport.
[For example, I was working ~50km outside of Qingdao and they would not deliver there, but tickets were waiting for me at the airport on the day of my flight]Related to:
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Online China Domestic Flight Bookings
You can book China domestic flight eTickets at http://www.elong.net/
Some flights are discounted. Sometimes 50% or more! In China, the flights are discounted closer to the date of departure.
May 2007 I flew from Xi'an to Shanghai. I got 50% discount off the base and had to pay an additional 130 rmb tax and fees. I got the ticket the day before. Only the late flight had 50% discount at that time while most of the others were 20 or 30% discount. I checked the internet the day of the flight and my flight and an additional flight was 60% discount and many of the other flights were 50% on the day of departure. So the longer you wait, the cheaper the price.
May 2007, a 130 rmb domestic airport tax and fees is added and sometime a fuel surcharge tax is also added. These additional charges will be listed before you are required to give your credit card information.
You round trip is just double the one way price. This makes it easy to combine air and rail. For example, you can fly from Shanghai to Beijing. Then take the train to Xi'an. Then fly from Xi'an back to Shanghai or someplace else.
Be careful around holidays like Chinese New Year, early May and early October.
Update October 20, 2008
I've just checked elong.com for November 1. One way prices from Beijing to Shenzhen were between 600 and 1750 rmb. The higher prices were non stop. It also said plus 200 rmb tax/fees for nonstop and 400 rmb for connecting flights. .
I also checked other destinations and dates. Beijing to Shenzhen seem to have less discounts flights, especially close to the depart date. I think it all has to do with the capitalist policy of supply and demand. :)
So, check the internet and if you see a good price, maybe you should book it and not wait.
Please rate this and my other tips when you find them useful, interesting, or like the photos.
China's High Speed Trains
China's rail roads infrastructure has advanced very rapidity. I was amazed by the new stations and High Speed Trains on my latest trip compared to just a few years ago. They now have intercity trains traveling over 280 KM/hour. That is over 170 miles/hour.
The High Speed Train seems quicker between Shanghai and Suzhou the getting to the train station within Shanghai. I understand they will soon have a High Speed Train between Beijing and Shanghai which will compete with the airlines.
See my High Speed Train Video.Related to:
- Family Travel
Hiking or Bamboo Rafting along the Li River
It's far more interesting to appreciate the beauty of the Li River by hiking, instead of taking an ordinary cruise. You'd better start from the Yangdi Dock and down the river to Xingping. This section is the highlight of the Li River cruise. If you are afraid of the long and tough road, you can take a bamboo raft along this section. You can find the bamboo rafts just at the Yangdi Dock. They are operated by the friendly local people. Here I find a map that can guide the way: http://www.chinatouristmaps.com/travel/guangxi/guilin/li-river.html.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
China Eastern Airlines
Shanghai-based China Eastern (MU) is one of the big four Chinese airlines, split off from Air China a few years ago.
It is strong in and out of Shanghai and other cenrral Chinese cities, but also in Yunnan (because China Yunnan Airlines was 'returned' to China Eastern in 2003).
It's aircraft are modern, but it just feels like they are older than other Chinese airlines. It uses Airbus A300 aircraft on most Beijing - Shanghai services, but also more modern A320s. Legroom in both, in economy class, is quite tight.
MU have a habit of doing their own decorating inside the cabin: the result is ill-fitting seat covers with magazine poskets that sag badly. It looks very unprofessional and cheap.
I fly MU regularly but have the 'least comfortable' feeling with this airline, compared to other airlines.
Their website brings up a quite incredible number of pop-ups, which adds to my discomfort with them.
Hainan Airlines (HU) is probably my favourite Chinese airline. It has modern, well-run aircraft (767 and newer 737s) which are bright and well kept inside.
Food service remains 'China standard' but this airline just seems a lot more professional than its domestic competitors.
It took over (or just rebranded) some real third-level Chinese airlines a couple of years back, including China Great Wall, Shanxi and China Xinhua, inheriting some fairly old aircraft. Some of these can be seen on services around the country, but I haven't been on any of them yet.
Hainan Airlines is not particularly frequent on any routes, but is worth booking them if you have a choice.
They now operate a flight from Beijing to Budapest, in cooperation with Malev (MA).
Shanghai Airlines (FM) is one of China's smaller airlines, but very popular for good reason.
Well-run , modern aircraft (B757 and 737) with better than average service.
Strong out of Shanghai's Hongqiao airport.
The website (apparently targeted helping HK travelerst) has Chinese domestic flight and train schedule, in CHINESE.
Some of the info does not seem to be updated often, but it gives you something to start with, IF you read Chinese.
don't use foreign websites to buy plane tickets
A ticket from Shanghai to Guiyang on Expedia cost USD 264, economy class, same ticket from Chinese travel agency or hotel cost 640 RMB (that is USD 100, bought 12 days before departure both). Ticket from Guiyang to Chengdu (one hour flight) is 320 rmb (USD 50) bought in China, but USD 110 from Expedia. So don't plan train - plane travel based on Expedia prices. Planes can be cheaper than trains. Ask a friend from China to buy your ticket, all they need is your name and passport number and you get an e-ticket, so just need your passport to check in, very easy. Also, you can just buy your tickets once you get to China. They don't charge a crazy price just because you didn't order three weeks in advance.
Ferry Service to Hong Kong
Since 1988, several ferry companies have offered fast and convenient ferrry service to Hong Kong from numerous mainland cities located throughout the Pearl River Delta. Most of these ferries arrive at and depart from the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal located in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. The Chinese cities served by ferry service include Dongguan, Doumen, Gaoming, Heshan, Jiangmen, Kaiping, Panyu, Shekou (a suburb of Shenzhen), Shunde, Taishan, Zhaoqing, Zhongshan, and Zhuhai.
In addition, there is ferry service between Hong Kong International Airport and Dongguan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhongshan,and Zhuhai.
Travelers between mainland China and Hong Kong must have the appropriate travel documents such as a passport and a Chinese visa, if necessary.
Internal Flights in China
We found air travel inside China good, convenient, very easy and efficient. There are many airlines, from China Eastern and Southern and Hainan Airlines to airlines with more exotic names such as Deer Air, Spring Air or Lucky Air (a name which makes you wonder if every flight is like a poker game..). All airlines (including the latter ones) have new, modern planes (Airbus or Boeing) and a young, English-speaking cabin crew. The meals we had on planes were nothing to write home about, you usually get a choice between a noodle dish and a rice dish, none of which is very exciting.
Beautiful new airport terminals have been opened in many cities, all the signs are also in English and getting around is easy. In Lijiang the terminal had just been opened a few days before our flight, and looked very impressive.
Make sure to have the boarding pass and luggage tag ready when you leave the baggage claim hall: At the exit they check that you are taking your own luggage and not somebode else's.Related to:
- Business Travel
Shanghai to Ningbo
You could certainly buy an inexpensive suitcase on the spot, for purchases.
On Return Flight, your 20" suitcase could be brought in cabin, new one could be checked baggage. Or vice-versa.
(just saying this for ease of travel with 20" over 25" suitcase)
By Hangzhou Bay Bridge, Shanghai to Ningbo is only 2 1/2 hours so not a long trip. Train doesn't travel on that bridge (a railway link is under consideration.) So for fastest travel Shanghai to Ninbgo, bus is a good option, comfortable, takes @ 2 1/2 hours. You MUST use Shanghai South long-distance Bus Station. There are luggage racks on top of seats and perhaps at end of cars.
Train goes round Hangzhou Bay, takes longer (maybe 4 1/2 hours) but also good option & luggage racks.
I don't know where you leave from to reach China. But it's a major trip & I'd take the 25" suitcase if I had one. I wouldn't BUY one before departure if I was planning on buying another suitcase in China, I'd settle for my 20".
Checking average weather in Shanghai & Ningbo for next 9 days shows cloudy, overcast, rain (even heavy rain) but temps average MAX 23 Celsius, MIN 19-20 Celsius. I would pack for layering & against dampness and rain rather than for "cold". Don't worry too much about any of that, if you get cold, buy an garment to suit your needs (You could even leave it behind if it's bulky.)
Arriving at Station, helpers will try to help w/your luggage. You can refuse that service if you don't want it. Just be aware that some will rush to help.
My reference info for baggage is Air Canada.
Cabin baggage: 9 x 16 x 22", 22 lbs
Personal bag: 6 x 13 x 17", 22 lbs
Checked bags: Linear dimension 62", 50 lbs
Useful link for Ningbo transportation:
I got a bit cold in Yunnan in November, it was sometimes around 12 Celsius I think. It was my feet and legs that were cold, I got small boots but didn't need more than a light jacket, sweater and warmer scarf (all of which I had.)
Have a great trip!
The pic is a gift from my friend Xie Yu, sometimes amateur photographer. It was taken in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (nothing to do with Shanghai or Ningbo -- just for the sake of colour here.)
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