How To Book Cheap Domestic Flights in China
I love traveling. Who doesn’t? But I love traveling even more when I can find the cheapest deal possible! Saving money on flights is especially great because you can use the money saved to spoil yourself during the trip or even create a long adventure with a small budget! Traveling in China is cheap, especially the trains. However, China is a huge country and some destinations are just too far away and take 1 or 2 days by train. That’s where cheap domestic flights come into play. Even though flights can be quite costly in China, especially during national holidays, I found a way to get a great deal no matter what and booked cheap domestic flights in China.
Here’s how to book cheap domestic flights in China:
I think the most important thing is to book early. However, on Chinese booking sites, flights aren’t available 6 months ahead. Sites like Ctrip and Qunar only start offering flights about 3 months in advance. Especially if you plan on traveling during one of the major Chinese holidays, try to book as early as possible! In order to get good deals, timing is the key!
Ctrip and Qunar
For booking domestic flights in China, I can definitely recommend the two major travel sites Ctrip and Qunar! To get the lowest deals possible, don’t switch to their European or American sites but stick to the Chinese version. That’s qunar.com and xiecheng.com (Ctrip). The English speaking versions of these sites often also hide higher rates than their Chinese originals.
I booked flights with Qunar and Ctrip before and can’t complain about either one. However, each site has it’s distinct advantages. Qunar is great if you have your own Chinese bank account, Chinese online banking and especially an Alipay account. You can pay really easy! However, if you only have foreign credit cards available, Qunar might not be your friend since they don’t accept them. Ctrip on the other hand makes it possible for its users to pay with foreign credit cards (Master or Visa). Booking is quick and uncomplicated. If you have a Chinese phone number, you will receive your flight confirmation and all the information via text message.
I even contacted the customer service of Ctrip several times which made a very positive impression. The staff is very helpful and their English is very good. Every time I called, I didn’t have to wait at all and was able to speak to a competent service rep right away! Qunar also has an English customer service.
Booking Flights Separately
It seems like in China, the concept of a “roundtrip” flight is fairly uncommon. When using Chinese travel sites, you will notice that you will have to book your flights individually. You will see the individual price for each trip but can certainly pay for both flights at the same time. The two flights might just be from two completely different airlines as well. This however makes your trip as flexible as possible!
My Chinese New Year Trip
In 2015, I spent my Chinese New Year traveling along its east coast. I started my trip in Qingdao, moved on to Nanjing and Suzhou and spent the last few days in Hangzhou. I wanted to go to these places for a while and took the opportunity before leaving China and moving to Korea in May/June.
I had never traveled during Chinese New Year and heard horror stories about it. Lots of crowds of people, sold out hotels, high prices… However, I must say that I booked really cheap flights even for the New Year days and also found great deals on hostels! I had a great time traveling during this time of the year as I think I chose my destinations wisely.
Have you traveled during Chinese New Year?