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, Cheapoair.com 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 manager@shanghaiprops.com and I’ll be happy to give you a tour of our new homes.

CTRIP

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!!

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Chinese Choices

If you ask any Chinese person where they buy their inland flight tickets, the majority will say qunar.com. 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 Qunar.com

  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
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  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.
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  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.
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  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.
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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

Apps

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

International

  • 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  manager@shanghaiprops.com. Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties

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Must-Have Phone Communication Apps

Every expat should know about these useful and very cheap (or free) phone apps that make international communication within China much easier, whether you have a SIM card or not. Just make sure you are using these apps with WIFI and not your cellular data.

communication

Whatsapp – Although not completely free, if you spend $1 to download this app, you will be saving yourself much more money than using iMessage or SMS abroad. Whatsapp offers a free messaging service, as well as the ability to share pictures, videos, audio notes, contacts, and locations. You can also update your status so your friends know what you are up to. Whatsapp will sync contacts with your Facebook account so you won’t have to add all your friends individually. However, this app does not offer a calling or video feature.

Viber – Similar to Whatsapp, but Viber is free to download and offers a calling feature. However, it is not quite as popular as Whatsapp.

Skype – Skype is now available on mobile devices! With this app you can make video calls for free to other Skype users. You can also use the messaging service, which is very convenient for professional purposes if you communicate often with Skype.

Wechat – If you want to use a free communication app that will help you be more integrated within China, you should download Wechat, or WeiXin. Almost every Chinese uses this app and many foreigners are jumping on board as well. It is the most convenient way to text and call your foreign and Chinese friends and it comes with a lot of fun messaging perks called “stickers”. It is free to use internationally as well, so even when you return home, you can still keep in touch with your Chinese friends and acquaintances. Albeit, it is not considered very professional so it may not be useful for work purposes.

Adrienne black top - small

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  manager@shanghaiprops.com. Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties

Trips for National Day Holiday

China is known for its extra long National Holidays with one of the most important holidays,the National Day of People’s Republic of China coming up on the 1st October. Usually government gives from 7 to 10 days for people to have short vocations, which everybody calls – Golden Week. This is a very interesting and very annoying period of time. Interesting – because you have the incredible opportunity to travel; and annoying – because you will be embracing this opportunity along with almost two billions Chinese people. Almost every person in China uses these national holidays to travel so that means the ticket and hotel prices are very, and we mean very, very high. High prices may not be the only problem you might face. It is almost impossible to book a flight or a hotel room this late in the month and all the restaurants in popular places will be fully booked so even if you can find a bed, you might have to pack cup noodles.

Given the dilemma you may be faced with so late in the month, we’ll try to help and offer some places which are very beautiful, but closer to home so you can have a nice trip with minimal problems and effort.

 Cuandixia (爨底).

Just a couple of hours from Beijing you can find the ancient village, which offers a glimpse into traditional rural life. Here you can see a collection of restored Ming- and Qing-dynasty courtyard homes, where visitors can stay overnight on a traditional kang bed heated from underneath with coal. For meal you have to visit one of any small courtyard restaurants for farm fresh food. You can get there by car (around 800 RMB) or you can take a bus No.892 or No. 929 Zhiat the Pingguoyuan metro station and get off at Zhaitang station. This will take around two hours or so. Then take a taxi or bus No.M9 to the village directly. The taxi fare is about CNY15 – CNY20. It is better to catch the bus No.892 before 07:00am, because you are in China, and even if it is not very popular place, there are still a lot of people here. Another way to get there is to take Bus No.992 or 370 at Pingguoyuan station to Hetan bus stop, and then change to a micro-bus to Chuandixia.

 Zhouzhuang ().

This water-town is located just two-hour drive from Shanghai. Its narrow cobblestone streets lined with souvenir shops. If you cannot fight temptation to buy another “pretty ancient artifact”, don’t forget to bargain. Many of the old buildings, which date back to the 1300s, filled with restaurants, where you can try regional cuisine. Don’t forget to visit the Fishing Museum for a primer on traditional techniques. Sample the freshly made super-sweet hand-pulled candy.

There are 14 arched bridges around the town. For 100 RMB you can take a20 minutes traditional gondola ride, and if you tip your guide a little, he will sing a traditional song for you.

There are several options to get there:

  1. You can take a tourist bus form Shanghai Tour Bus Center (上海旅游集散中心). For this you need to go outside the Cao Xi Road subway stop for line 3. Get out at Exit 3 and turn right. You can see the Shanghai Tour Bus Center Building (big gray new building) just next to subway station. You can purchase your tickets there (also in advance) and the buses normally leave from Gate No. 1 at the bus center (2nd floor). Tel: 24095555. Departure time: 7:00, 8:30, 9:30, 10:10, 10:45, 12:10, 14:00. The price is ¥150 (¥75 for senior citizens over the age of 70) which includes round-trip fees and entrance tickets (¥120).
  2. Bus from Hongkou Football Stadium. The No.5 gate. Departure time: 8:15 and 16:15 to return. The price is ¥240 include round-trip fees and enter the tourist area of Zhouzhuang (¥120). It gives you only 5.5 hours in the town, which may not be enough to enjoy the beauty spot to lots of people.
  3. Long Distance Bus station, next to the railway station. This is a regular bus, not a tourist bus. Departures from Shanghai: 8:00, 12:00, 14:20 and 16:50. The last bus home to Shanghai leaves Zhouzhuang at 16:30.
  4. Take Shanghai subway line 11, get off at Huaqiao Station and then change tourism bus no. 7 to Zhouzhuang Bus Station

For more information how to get to Zhouzhuang you can go here.

 Putuoshan (普陀).

Putuoshan is a small island located not far from Ningbo. You can take a ferry from Ningbo or an overnight boat trip from Shanghai to get to this beautiful place, which seems like another world. Island is famous for its temples, pagodas and narrow cobblestone streets. The main population is monks, monkeys and fishermen. This island has the best beaches in northern China.

To get to Putuoshan you can:

  1. Take a ferry from Wusong Wharf.
  2. Take a boat. There are 4 boats from Shanghai to Putuo: Putuo Shan Line(普陀山轮), Fayu Line(法雨轮), Jinping Line(锦屏轮)and Luojia Shan Line(洛迦山轮. The boat will take about 11 hours, which is good for visitors not in a hurry. The boat leaves from NO.251-271, Huacheng Road, Baoshan District, Shanghai (上海宝山区化成路251-271号). Prices start from 109 RMB per person and goes up to the first class level.
  3. You can take a speed boat from LuchaoHarbor(芦潮港): the Feihai Line (8:00-12:00) and Feixiang Line (8:30-12:30). Address is: NO.1588, Waima Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai City 上海黄浦区外马路1588号. Prices start from 258 RMB per person.
  4. Take a bus. Bus trip will take up to four and a half hours. You can take a bus from Shanghai Southern Bus Station or from Tourism Hub under Shanghai Nanpu Bridge.
  5. Or you can take a plane from Pudong International Airport.

For more details about transportation you can read morehere. For information about transportation around Putuoshan you can find here.

These are just some of the delightful places you can travel close by during the National Holidays. But you may choose to stay home and spend nice quality time with your dear ones. If you’re are indeed homeless at the moment and looking for a new place why not take this opportunity to check out what Shanghai Properties has to offer? We will be open during the National Holidays so feel free to call us directly on +86 131 2281 0421 or mail me, Adrienne Farrelly at manager@shanghaiprops.com and I’ll arrange to show you around.

Adrienne black top - small

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  manager@shanghaiprops.com. Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties

My Diary: Random acts of kindness in Shanghai

I always try and underscore to new arrivals how incredibly safe this city is which compared with most major cities of this kind is without doubt a rarity. Whilst I have had a couple of small incidences of theft and pick pocketing over the years I consider them minor and carried out by some petty thieves.  The other day I was walking across Fuxing Xi Rd with my passport in my hand trying to juggle a bag and a jacket and unkown to me my passport slipped from its cover. A van that had whizzed past pulled to the side and slammed on his brakes. The driver got out and came towards me motioning to the ground where my passport lay. I was shocked that I dropped the passport but even more that this guy’s keen eyes had notice it and he bothered and cared enough to stop and tell me.

It reminded me of a time when I dropped our office mobile when getting into my van at People’s Square. When I got back to the office the person who picked it up had just called my driver (the last no I had dialed) and he turned around to go and pick it up. I rang them to thank them for their kindness and they wouldn’t accept any reward. Just goes to show how very kind and gracious people can be here to their fellow citizens. I would love to hear of any random acts of kindness you may have experienced in Shanghai.

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Adrienne black top - small

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  manager@shanghaiprops.com. Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties