Quick Guide to Getting Around China for Travellers

China is a vast, diverse, and exciting destination for visitors. The third most visited country in the world saw 55.98 million people enter its shores in 2010. With excellent domestic airlines and one of the busiest rail networks in the world, travelling within China is easy with some pre-planning. In this article, we take a close look at the best ways travellers can get around the country.

Local Flights

China is a large country and often local flights are the best way to get from one city to another. There are many domestic flights every day that connect the key tourist spots and major cities. There are three international carriers; Air China, China Southern, and China Eastern, and regional domestic airlines servicing specific regions. Like Malaysia hotels or hotels elsewhere, China has a range of ultra-modern hotels that can offer the highest levels of luxury for visitors wherever they’re travelling in the country.

Tips for flying domestic in China:

  • Flying within China is inexpensive. Discounts for domestic flights are common on the busier routes, especially within two months of the flight date.
  • Booking within China is more cost effective than from overseas. There are several English language sites that sell tickets online and provide a local ticket delivery service.
  • It’s cheaper to fly in or from Shenzhen, Guangzhou or Zhuhai rather than Hong Kong or Macau. It’s possible to take overnight bus into Shenzhen or Zhuhai before catching your domestic flight.

Travelling by Train

Train is by far the most common method of long-distance travel for locals. China is said to host around one-quarter of the world’s total rail traffic, which makes it the single busiest network of trains in the world.

While high speed trains (known as ‘CRH’) are gradually being introduced in China, it’s not yet widely available in all cities. There are around nine different types of trains in China. From G-series to C- and Z-series, these categories reflect speed, frequency of stoppage, and distance of route. Long distance trains usually come with dining cars.

Train tickets tend to come in five different classes (except for the CRH trains). These include soft sleepers, hard sleepers, soft seats, hard seats, and standing. Tickets are usually available to be booked up to five days before the day, and for busy seasons, ensure that you book early to avoid having to buy a standing ticket or missing out altogether.


Whether it’s by public city buses or long haul buses, bus travel in China is cheap and plentiful. It’s a good idea to research routes and have some Mandarin prepared beforehand if you have questions to ask the station master.

Fares average one or two yuan and passengers pay by inserting coins into a cash box at the entrance. For long routes, a conductor will come around to issue tickets. Sleeper buses with bunk bed are also available for some long distance routes.


Most of China’s major cities have a subway system, with English signs and ticket machines. These cities include Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Wuhan, Chengdu, Xian, and Guangzhou. The subways systems are usually modern, easy to use, and efficient.

Car Hire

If you want to rent a car, in most cases you’ll find a driver attached to the package, as driving can be confusing in China for travellers. China doesn’t recognise international driving permits, including those with driving permits issued for Hong Kong or Macau.


Taxis are widely available in China and fairly cheap. Flagfall rates can range anywhere from ¥5 to ¥12, with the rest of the fee based on distance. No extra charge is apply for luggage though there may be a higher rate for after hours travel. Tip are uncommon for taxis. Like Doha hotels or hotels elsewhere, your hotel can usually help you arrange a taxi for an airport transfer.

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