China: Cheap Flight Tickets

You know what it’s like. Stay in one Chinese city too long and you start to get the “travel bug”. China, like elsewhere in the world has websites that give you the best deals. So, if you’re looking to come to China, is the best way to find a flight to Beijing or Shanghai. Once in China however, there’s absolutely no need to use the websites you used in your own country. Sites like expedia charge over TWICE the rate than it’s Chinese counterpart charges so it’s really a no brainer to go local. One challenge of course is the language and if your Chinese isn’t up to scratch you probably feel a bit disadvantaged. There is no need to worry however cause I am more than happy to help guide you through China’s cheapest website using zilch Chinese language skills. If you are looking to travel then follow this guide and find a cheap flight to another city. If you’re planning a move to Shanghai and need to find a new home, contact me, Adrienne Farrelly at and I’ll be happy to give you a tour of our new homes.


Ctrip is probably the best choice if you don’t want to go through the hassle of looking through a Chinese website. Sure they have an English site but it often has errors.  Ctrip’s Chinese version offers direct flights between Shanghai and Beijing while the English version has none!! UGH!!


Chinese Choices

If you ask any Chinese person where they buy their inland flight tickets, the majority will say This site is not the easiest to maneuver if you cannot read Chinese but it sure holds the greatest rewards! The site not only has the lowest inland deals, but often has extremely cheap international tickets. The site often displays round trip tickets to Hong Kong for only $100 USD after taxes from Shanghai. This site often has flash deals; I once saw a round ticket to Cambodia from Shanghai for only $170 USD. The catch was the plane ticket was for the next day. This site is perfect for anyone wanting to go on a spontaneous trip.

How to use

  1. When you first arrive to the website, the top menu looks like the below options. You will choose the tab which I have highlighted
  2. Unless you view this blog right after I post it, only then you will see the same deals that are shown below.  This page has a list of international roundtrip tickets, one way international flights and inland one way flights. The prices listed below do not include tax or additional surcharges.. This site does not add the surcharges until you have selected a flight. On inland flights there is a 170 RMB surcharge for fuel, and airport fee regardless of distance. Most Airlines also offer a 20RMB insurance that you can opt to buy. International flights on the other hand have taxes. A round trip ticket to Hong Kong you will be looking at spending around 400 RMB in taxes. Which is sometimes more expensive than the flight itself.  You may be wondering what the special price button does. On the website this function is not user friendly. I would recommend downloading their app for Android and Iphone. I will discuss the app later on.imageimage
  3. If you already have in mind the city you would like to go to. You can type in the search boxes, don’t worry if you don’t have know the city’s Chinese name, the box’s recognize English; such as Hong Kong, Harbin, Seoul, Siem Reap and Macau which greatly differ than their Chinese pinyin. I am not sure why are the top they have an inland, and international flight search box. International flights can still be searched in the left box. In my case I have searched a one way flight from Shanghai to Tokyo. I choose an international flight to greater emphasize the saving that you can receive if you are flexible with the time of vacation. The below picture shows plane tickets to Tokyo for 1100+ 600 taxes. On the right hand side it shows round trip tickets than can be purchased that will save you over 800 RMB. The round trip price is 1400+Tax. However I still find this a bit too expensive let’s look at the option that I have highlighted.image
  4. After clicking on the last sections highlighted option. It brings up a calendar. On this calendar it shows the cost of the cheapest ticket on that day. You are able to scroll through and check by month. Usually plane tickets are cheapest between 8 and 12 weeks of the current date. As you see below if I choose to leave in March instead, the price of a ticket drastically lowers from 1100 to 399. The tax is usually relatively constant. There is always a different tax on tickets leaving China and coming into China, since the countries have different tax rates.image
  5. In the picture below I have highlighted an option which allows you to change which ticket you are searching for. If I clicked the option I will then be searching tickets from Japan to Shanghai. This is important if there are no cheap round trip suggestions. Round trip suggestions usually come up if it’s the same airline that offers a cheap going and return ticket; this may not always be the case. Then you can use the calendar option to find the cheapest going and returning tickets. However in my case an option came up to choose an 800 RMB round trip ticket. As shown in the bottom right hand corner.
  6. I have clicked on the bottom right hand corner 798RMB round trip ticket.  The next screen below is given. As you can see with tax the ticket comes up to 1879 RMB, which comes up to a little over 300 USD for a round trip ticket to Tokyo.
  7. After than menu I have clicked on the orange button next to the 798. The ones below are for one way tickets if you choose to buy them separately.  You will notice that the price has shot up to over 2000. This is because it includes an optional 150 RMB insurance. You can remove the insurance or keep it. The insurance includes such things as lost luggage reimbursement, if you get injured you will receive money, and for every 8 hours your luggage is delayed you will receive 500 RMB, and a few other things. This is the information that you need to put in. After this page, you will need to pay, by using a Chinese bank account.  Make sure under the Identification scroll down, you choose 护照or passport.

Air Asia

This site has an English Version, so it is easy to use. If you are looking for cheap plane tickets to Southeast Asia, this is the site for you. They offer the cheapest flights to Malaysia. I have seen roundtrip tickets from Shanghai to Malaysia for Only 1600 RMB tax included. They often have promotions on the front page of the website, for flights between certain times. These promotions can be a bit deceiving since you rarely find prices at that price. However the site still boasts some of the cheapest flights to Southeast Asia and once you are in Southeast Asia, flying city to city is dirt cheap. This site does not offer many inland China flights, but if you are looking for an out of the country excursion this is a great option


Earlier I mentioned the usage of apps to find flights. Luckily there is a qunar app, and an airasia app. The qunar app is perfect if you already have a desired city that you would like to travel to. The app will then give you the cheapest prices in the next 3 months. Then you can go to their website and purchase the ticket. The air Asia promotion app has a feature to check best prices. You input the city that you are traveling from and the city that you would like to go to. This application is in English but has some flaws. The biggest flaw is that after you select the city which you are traveling from it does not filter out cities which do not have a connecting flight with that city. I would recommend using airasia website search option in congruence with this app to find the best price. The app lists the cost of the flight to that city and from that city for a whole month; you can scroll through future months. There is no 3 month limit like qunar’s app. The second problem with the app is that you must hit a refresh button on the top left to refresh prices to this day and time, if you do not refresh this before searching it may show outdated prices.

Common City Names

Chinese Cities

  • 上海 Shanghai
  • 北京 Beijing
  • 南京 Nanjing
  • 杭州 Hangzhou
  • 苏州 Suzhou
  • 成都 Chengdu
  • 重庆 Chongqing
  • 昆明 Kunming
  • 西安 Xi’an
  • 哈尔滨 Harbin
  • 三亚 Sanya
  • 青岛 Qingdao
  • 大连 Dalian’
  • 广州 Guangzhou
  • 深圳 Shenzhen


  • 香港 Hong Kong
  • 澳门 Macau
  • 首尔 Seoul
  • 曼谷 Bangkok
  • 东京 Tokyo
  • 新加坡 Singapore
  • 悉尼 Sydney
  • 巴黎 Paris
  • 巴厘岛 Bali Island (Indonesia)
  • 吉隆坡 Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
  • 胡志明市 Ho Chi Minh City ( Vietnam)
  • 台北Taiwan
  • 马尼拉 Manila (Philippines)
  • 金边 Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
  • 暹粒 Siem Reap (Cambodia)

    adrienne farrelly

    Adrienne Farrelly is one of Shanghai’s most experienced expatriate Property Agents helping expats find new homes since 1994. You can reach her at  +86 13122 810 421 or Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties


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