Getting Around China
China is a massive country with an extensive and efficient transportation network.  Whether by air, train or bus, you will be able to reach every province.  Chinese people are very friendly to foreigners and almost always willing to help. Because of the language barrier it is highly recommended to have your destinations written in Mandarin.  With a basic level of caution, you should enjoy a rich and rewarding travel experience.
Air Travel
China is a country of vast distances, so air travel is the most convenient way to get where you want to go efficiently.  If you decide to extend your planned itinerary, make sure to buy tickets at a travel agency as tickets are considerably less expensive than at a hotel desk or directly through the airline. Although the government and customers demand timeliness, expect the occasional delay or cancellation. If you bought your ticket locally, and gave a contact number, they are very good at contacting you in the event of a cancellation.
The primary international gateways to mainland China are Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Almost every sizable city will have an international airport, but options are usually limited to flights from Hong Kong, and neighboring countries such as South Korea and Japan, and sometimes Southeast Asia.
The free baggage allowance for each adult passenger is 20kg (44 pounds) in Economy Class and 30kg (60 pounds) in First Class, on both domestic and international flights.  The excess baggage charge is 1% of the full fare for each kilogram.  It is important to keep your baggage receipt label on your ticket as you will need to show it when you collect your luggage.  Please note baggage claims at older airports are rudimentary, and may experience long waits.
It is predicted that China will become the world's most visited tourist destination by the year 2020.  Airports are being built and upgraded throughout the country in preparation for an upsurge in domestic air travel.
China AIrports
Train Travel
Train travel is considered one of the best ways to travel around China. The network covers almost every province, and the most important destinations include very fast, safe, clean, air conditioned, and comfortable trains. Train stations tend to be located much closer to city centers than airports, and train travel is the most scenic way to travel.
Given China's distances, most intercity services tend to be overnight. When possible choose a sleeper, and although about a third more expensive, soft sleepers are recommended for travel of more than 12 hours. Most modern trains have western style toilets, while older trains still offer squat toilets.
Where possible, choose a train with a C, D, Z, or T prefix, in order of preference, as these are the fastest and most modern options. Try to not travel on Chinese holidays as all trains are filled to capacity. Earplugs are recommended as Chinese find it perfectly acceptable to speak very loudly.  Expect your bags to be x-rayed, keep your ticket or token with you, and keep your valuables close as a precaution. Buying food and snacks prior to boarding is a good idea as selection on trains is limited and overpriced. Overall, travelling by train is a very pleasant alternative to traveling by bus, especially on overnight travel.

Bus Travel
Bus travel is becoming a better alternative as fleets become more modern and China's highway system improves. Thus, journey times by road have been cut dramatically, and the level of luxury has increased, particularly on the East Coast and between large cities. We recommend the top levels of service: kongtiao (air-conditioned), gaosu (high speed expressways used), haohua (luxury where smoking is mostly forbidden). These services do not charge for baggage and are punctual. Another advantage of bus travel is that some routes often stop in small towns and villages you would not get to see by other means.
Most frustrations with bus travel come from other passengers, either because someone becomes sick, or the noise from loud conversation becomes annoying. Sleeper buses should be avoided when overnight trains are available. Bus travel to remote areas (especially in the Southwest, Tibet, and the Northwest) should only be used if you have no alternative as roads are usually in dangerous conditions, breakdowns are common, and buses are often dirty.

Car Travel
Self drive for foreign travelers in China is not possible, and if it were, without previous experience it would not be recommended as it could be dangerous. Renting a car in Macau and Hong Kong is allowed, but distances are so short, and taxis so well regulated that there is really no point to it.
Personal drivers are readily available for hire.  Local travel agencies or larger hotels can arrange this for you.  If you are satisfied with the driver, make sure to take down his name and arrange for future drives.

For a fourth of the price you can flag a taxi down and negotiate a price in advance for the day or half-day.  You will pay a lot more if you hire a taxi from your hotel or next to it.  There are many more taxis than business available so make sure to negotiate, and do not be shy about moving on to another one you feel more comfortable with. Never go with a driver who approaches you at the airport as these are usually illegal, instead go to the taxi stand. Also, avoid taxis who call out to foreigners, or those waiting outside major tourist spots.


Boat Travel
Boat services within China are few. They are mostly limited to the coastal areas and some rivers. In the coastal areas they are available to reach offshore islands, such as Hong Kong, Putuoshan, or Hainan.
The Yangzi River is popular with tourists, especially from Chongqing to Yichang. The trip on the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo is also very popular. To explore China's scenic river cruises click here.
Hong Kong employs many boats that connect it with the territory's myriad islands.  There are also a number of popular boats that connect it to other parts of China, including Macau.

Underground Travel
Only possible in a handful of cities, going underground is highly preferable to taking the bus or a taxi, since you avoid the all too common traffic jam. Hong Kong, Beijng, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Nanjng and Shenzhen benefit from underground systems. Wuhan has a limited light rail system in Hankou, as does Tianjin (linking it to Tanggu), while Chongking is now aided by a monorail.
Hong Kong offers the best and most comprehensive underground system, while Beijing's and Shanghai's underground transportation have been recently extended.

* Sample prices displayed include international and domestic airline tickets as per itinerary and ALL airline-related taxes and fuel surcharges and are per person, based on double occupancy, and are dynamic in nature. Prices do not include insurance or delivery charges which are optional and customizable by the traveler. The airfare portion of the itinerary price is based on economy class, midweek departure. Prices do not include fees for carry on or checked baggage which can add additional fees per ticket on a roundtrip flight based on carrier charges. It also does not include any entrance fees or visa fees that may be charged at international airports. Some cities may charge local taxes that can only be collected by hotel at destination.
Prices were accurate at the time we posted them. Sample prices were for a specific travel date and specific departure airport, as indicated. Your prices will vary according to departure cities and travel dates. We do not control prices (airlines and hotel reservation systems do). Prices may change dynamically and at times significantly numerous times during any given day.
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