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Travel to & around China

Getting there

 Fly from major US airports to Beijing, and start your adventure. Check out the cheap flights to China or call us about getting a Round the World ticket with a stop in China.

About airports

Beijing airport
Beijing airport is located 28 km northeast of the city.  Jump in a taxi for the 40-minute journey at a cost of around 元140 to the city center.  There are various airport bus routes operating too and you’ll pay only    元16 to travel on one.  There is an airport express subway line now open as well which costs 元25 and gets you straight to the city.

Guangzhou airport
Guangzhou airport is 31 km northeast of Guangzhou.  If you take a cab you can expect the journey to be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour at a cost of 元120 or more.  A number of buses are available and will cost up to 元40 depending on your destination.

Shanghai Hongqiao airport
Shanghai airport is 16 km southwest of the city and is served mainly by domestic flights.  There are two cabs types, for short and long distances.  A cab to the city will take around half an hour and costs about   元5.

Shanghai Pudong airport
Shanghai Pudong airport is located 30 km southeast of the city.  A cab will cost around 元50 to the city center and takes around 45 minutes.  There are various airport buses and these should cost no more than 元50 depending on your destination.  You can also take the Maglev Train Service, which speeds along at 430 kph and costs only 元50, connecting the airport with the metro line.

How to get around

China’s immense size means that long-distance domestic travel is best done by air and there are a number of airlines to choose from.  Be sure to book well in advance for travel during April, May, September or October and confirm your seats before traveling as flights are often overbooked.

Ferries travel regularly between mainland China and Hong Kong and there are also coastal ferries operating between the larger coastal areas.  The larger rivers, such as the Yangtze, also have river ferries.

Rail transport is a good way of getting around China as it is generally cheap, safe and the cities are well linked.  There are various seat types (hard and soft seats or sleepers) so choose well, you’ll want to be comfortable while traveling those vast distances.  You can take the passenger train to Tibet from various regions and be on the most elevated rail route in the world, reaching up to 5,072 m.

If you’re wanting to self-drive you can, but it’s difficult.  A three-month residency permit and driving test are required in order to gain a local licence before you can drive.  It’s easier to hire a car and driver for your trip, or to take a bus.  Again, remember there are often vast distances between the main cities, in some cases over 1,000 km, so be prepared!

Getting around town
Metro systems in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other cities make travel relatively cheap and easy and buses operate in most regions as well.  Taxis are available in the larger cities but be careful to check firstly that the taxi has a meter, and secondly that it is turned on.  If not then make sure you agree on the fare before setting off.  It’s an advantage to have your destination written in Chinese so that taxi driver can read it (most don’t speak English) and most hotels will provide this and a list of key attractions.

Organized tours
Organized tours are a great way to see the sites and soak up the local culture – especially if you’re traveling alone or are a first-time traveler.  Check out some of the options for tours and treks in China.
*The Small Print
We’ve tried to make this destination guide as accurate as possible but please double check the essentials like visas, health and safety, airport information etc with the relevant authorities before you travel.  STA Travel takes no responsibility for loss, injury or inconvenience caused as a result of this guide.  All prices listed are in the currency of the destination, unless otherwise stated.

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