Travel to China

Flying to China

Flights to China are served by Air China (www.air-china.co.uk). British Airways (www.ba.com) and Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com) also run direct flights to China from the UK. Autumn, when tourist numbers are down but the weather in many regions remains pleasant, is a good time to find flights. Fares can be higher in and around peak holiday seasons such as Chinese New Year.

Major airports are: Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, Hong Kong International Airport, Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.

Flight times:

To Beijing: from London - 10 hours; New York - 14 hours.

Flights are often overbooked, so you're strongly advised to re-confirm your return flight reservations.

Departure tax:

Included in air fare.

Airport guides

Airport Code: PVG. Location: Shanghai Pudong International Airport is located 30km (19 miles) southeast of central Shanghai, in... Money: Several banks, bureaux de change, and ATMs are located within the terminal buildings, within both... Read more

Airport Code: PEK. Location: Beijing Capital International Airport is situated 32km (20 miles) northeast of Beijing’s city... Money: Full-service bank desks can be found in Terminal 3. Several bureaux de change and ATMs are... Read more

Airport Code: HKG. Location: Hong Kong International Airport is located 34km (21 miles) northwest of Hong Kong Island. Money: There is a bank in Terminal 2 and several bureaux de change counters and ATMs throughout both... Read more

Airport Code: SHA. Location: Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport is situated 13km (8 miles) southwest of Shanghai city... Money: Bureaux de change facilities, banks and ATMs can be found throughout Shanghai Hongqiao... Read more

Airport Code: CAN. Location: Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is located 28km (17 miles) north of Guangzhou city centre.... Money: ATMs, a bank, and a foreign currency exchange service are all located in the terminal buildings. Read more

Airport Code: KMG. Location: Kunming Changshui International Airport is located 25km (16 miles) from the city centre.   Money: There are five ATMs available in the arrivals hall (level B1) and departures hall (levels 1F and 3F... Read more

Airport Code: CTU. Location: Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is located 16km (10 miles) from the city centre. Money: There are two currency exchange counters and several ATMs in each terminal respectively. Read more

Airport Code: XMN. Location: Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport is located 12km (7 miles) from the city centre. Money: There are two currency exchange counters and several ATMs in each terminal respectively. Bank of... Read more

Other airports in China

Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport

Airport Code: HGH. Location: Located 27km (17 miles) from downtown Hangzhou, Xiaoshan International Airport is still a... Website: http://www.hzairport.com/en/. Public transport description: A shuttle bus runs between the city and the airport every 15 minutes 0930 to 1700, and every 30 minutes between 0730-0930 and 1700-2200 (journey time - 50 minutes). The ticket office is at 390 Tiyuchang Road (tel: (571) 8515 4295). A taxi to the city centre costs around RMB120.

Travel by rail

International services run from Beijing to Moscow on both the Trans-Mongolian Railway (via Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia) and the Trans-Manchurian Railway (via northeastern China). The Trans-Siberian route runs from Moscow to Vladivostock, and from here you can also cross into China, although the other two routes are more direct. Non-stop, the journey by train takes around one week. Allow more time if coming from London or other locations in Western Europe. Train timetables can be found at Man at Seat 61 (www.seat61.com).

From Vietnam to China it is possible to take a train which travels from Hanoi to Beijing. There is also a daily overnight train service between Hanoi and Nanning, in Guangxi province. 

There are also four weekly services from Beijing to Pyongyang in North Korea. Owing to demand, it may be necessary to book up to two months in advance. A regular train service runs from Hong Kong to Guangzhou (Canton). There are several trains daily.

In Hong Kong, MTR (tel: +852 2688 1333; www.mtr.com.hk) has express trains running from Kowloon to Guangzhou. There are also services between Shanghai-Kowloon/Hong Kong (journey time - 19 hours) and Beijing-Kowloon/Hong Kong (journey time - 24 hours).

Further information on rail services is available from the Chinese Ministry of Transport (www.moc.gov.cn, in Chinese only).

Note: Travellers on the Trans-Mongolian or Trans-Manchurian Railways are strongly advised to search their compartments and lock the doors before departure, owing to an increase in smuggling via this route.

Driving to China

Travelling to China overland is possible, if arduous. China borders multiple countries including Nepal, Mongolia, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Laos, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and India. Border posts are subject to unexpected closures however; the rules change all the time and these should be checked thoroughly before making a journey by road.

Crossings for foreign nationals coming from Russia into China are limited to the Zabaykalsk/Manzhouli border in Siberia. It's advisable to take the advice of a local travel agent and have them organise the necessary paperwork and visas. Within China, tourists are not permitted to self-drive and must use a driver booked through a travel agent.

Getting to China by boat

China has a huge number of ports. More than 120 of them are open to foreign ships, but these are almost exclusively used for the import and export of goods and containers. International cruise ships do make use of the most prominent ports, though, with Shanghai, Qingdao and Tianjin among the most popular stop-off points.

Ferry operators:

Several major cruise lines offer cruises to China. There are regular ferry services linking Chinese ports with Kobe in Japan and the west coast of Korea (Dem Rep). There are regular ferries between Shanghai and Osaka in Japan. Regular ferry services also operate between Weihai, Qingdao, Tianjin and Shanghai in China to Incheon in Korea (Dem Rep).

There are regular fast ferry services between Hong Kong and Macau and a number of towns and cities in Guangdong province, including Shenzhen and Zhuhai, operated by Chu Kong Passenger Transport Co (tel: +852 2858 3876; www.cksp.com.hk) and TurboJET (tel: +852 2859 3333; www.turbojet.com.hk).

Two ferry companies run regular services from Japan to Shanghai: the Shanghai Ferry Company (www.shanghai-ferry.co.jp) and the China-Japan International Ferry Company (www.shinganjin.com/index_e.php). There are also several weekly ferry services between the Chinese coast and South Korea.




Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.