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Tips for Your International Flights to and from China

For first-time visitors to China, planning a trip to one of the world’s most beautiful and ancient countries can be mind-boggling. Where to begin? Which cities to fly in and out of? Here is a guide to choosing your arrival/departure cities and how to choose the right airline.

The Most Popular Entry and Exit Cities in China

For international travelers, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Chengdu are the most important entry and exit cities, taking over about 80 percent of the shares of the passengers to and from China. These five cities will most likely be your first and last contact with China on your visit.

The most popular entry/exit options in order are: (Entry City + Exit City)

  • Beijing + Shanghai
  • Beijing + Beijing
  • Shanghai + Shanghai
  • Beijing + Hong Kong
  • Shanghai + Beijing

More Information about How to Choose Your Entry City: Hong Kong VS Shanghai

Many tourists hesitate between choosing Hong Kong and Shanghai to be their entry city as they share a lot in common. Both of them are modern cities, gateways to China and shopping paradises.

It is generally known that Hong Kong is an important gateway to China. There are many flights between Hong Kong and major cities of the US, Australia, and Europe. For tourists in the above regions, it is convenient to travel from Hong Kong to mainland China.

But, is Hong Kong the best option?

If you don’t have one specific reason to Hong Kong and want to see the face of modern China, Shanghai would be a great option.

The airfare from your city to Shanghai is sometimes higher than to Hong Kong, but you don’t need to pay for the airfare (always more than USD300 per ticket) from Hong Kong to mainland China and save some money on accommodation, car and guide.

Moreover, Shanghai is by far an easier place to get around on the Chinese mainland. Apart from tons of worthwhile places to visit within a short train from the city such as Hangzhou and Suzhou, many famous tourism cities like Beijing, Xi’an and Guilin are easily accessible.

North America to China Flights

With an increasing number of nonstop routes from major American and Canadian cities, like New York, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Toronto, and Vancouver, it is convenient to travel from U.S. and Canada to China.

Most of our customers from the U.S. and Canada start their trip in Beijing and end in Shanghai. Direct flights between the U.S. / Canada and China take around 11–14 hours.

Beijing – North America Flights

Beijing RoutesDirect Flights Per Day Each way (Approx.)Journey Time (Approx.)
New York413h 35m
Chicago313h 30m
Los Angeles312h 40m
Vancouver310h 50m
San Francisco2+12h 5m
Seattle211h 40m
Toronto213h 20m
Washington, D.C.1+13h 55m
Dallas113h 50m
Detroit113h 45m

Shanghai – North America Flights

Shanghai RoutesDirect Flights Per Day Each Way (Approx.)Journey Time (Approx.)
Los Angeles512h 10m
Chicago313h 55m
Boston314h 10m
Vancouver310h 30m
New York2+14h 45m
San Francisco211h 30m
Seattle1+11h 45m
Dallas113h 55m
Detroit113h 55m

International Flights from Europe

Apart from Beijing and Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Chengdu are also important gateway cities for passengers from European countries. Here are approximate direct flight frequencies and durations from major cities in Europe to China’s major gateway cities.

From/toBeijingShanghaiHong KongGuangzhouChengdu
Paris4/day, 10h 5m4+/day, 11h 20m2+/day, 11h 45m4/day, 11h 40m4+/day, 11h 20m
London3+/day, 10h3+/day, 11h 20m8/day, 11h 50m1/day, 11h 35m5/week, 10h 15m
Frankfurt3/day, 9h 15m3/day, 10h 40m2/day, 11h 5mN/A3/week, 9h 50m
Amsterdam2/day, 9h 20m2+/day, 10h 40m2/day, 11h 5m2/day, 11h 20m4/week, 9h 40m
Munich1+/day, 9h 40m1+/day, 11h1/day, 11h 5mN/AN/A

International Flights from Australia

Passengers from Australia often fly from Sydney to Beijing or Shanghai to start their trip; and then come back home through Hong Kong and Guangzhou in the south of China.

Direct flights between Sydney and Beijing are not available every day. Australia to China by direct flight takes 9–12 hours.

Sydney RoutesDirect Flights Per Day Each Way (Approx.)Journey Time (Approx.)
Beijing5/week10h 40m
Shanghai2+/day11h 50m
Hong Kong6/day9h 10m
Guangzhou2/day9h 20m

How to Choose the Right Airline for You?

There are a lot of airline options on the Internet. We have our own reasons for choosing an airline, such as price, safety, loyalty programs, or seating. Here are some things you should take into consideration when choosing an airline which we haven’t used before.

Check the Government Blacklists

Governments keep lists of airlines they consider unsafe. You can check these before booking a flight with a new airline.

Check Reviews on Credible Forums

Skytrax (airlinequality.com) is an independent customer forum and leading review site for airlines, airports, and associated air travel services. You can check airline and airport star ratings, and world airline and airport awards.

Check Airline Alliance Membership

The three major airline alliances are Star Alliance, Oneworld, and Sky Team.

You can enjoy benefits such as more choices of flights and flexibility, seamless code share flights, sharing bonus points/miles, and lounge access across all members of the alliance.

Check the Airline’s Safety Record

If you are concerned about the safety of an airline, you can scope out the airline’s safety record on AirSafe.com. It has been tracking air crashes and other safety-related incidents involving the major airlines of the world since 1970.

Compare Seats and In-Flight Amenities

If you care about the seats and in-flight amenities, SeatGuru.com is a good website to get aircraft seat maps, seat reviews, and in-flight amenities details for many popular airlines and aircraft.