Despite the fact that there are about one hundred and twenty points of entry and exit in China, only a small number of foreign airlines are allowed access to the country’s airspace. As a result most visitors to China arrive via Hong Kong, Shanghai or Beijing. The country’s official carrier is Air China which is run by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). The other alternative airline is Dragonair, a joint venture between the CAAC and Cathay Pacific.
Flying to China can prove quite expensive as a result of the policies exercised by the CAAC. For a cheaper option, you should fly to either Hong Kong or Macau and travel to the rest of the country by one of the alternative modes of transport on offer. When departing the country you should also not that you will have to pay a departure tax of Y105 and this must be paid in the local currency.
If you travel overland to China the most popular connections include the Trans-Siberian Railway which travels from Moscow to Beijing, the Nepal-Tibet, Pakistan-Sinjiang, Kasakhstan-Xinjiang, Macau-Zhuhai and Islamabad-Kashgar routes as well as many more.
Finally, if you arrive in China by sea you will do so from Hong Kong, Japan or Korea. There are several boat connections between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shekou or Shenzhen. From Japan there is a luxury boat service between Osaka and Shanghai as well as a weekly service between Kobe and Tanggu. And, those of you travelling from Korea will depart from Inch’on and travel to either Weihai, Tianjin or Qingdao.
With a rail network which consists of almost fifty three thousand kilometres of tracks, trains reach every province in China with the exception of Tibet. While they are usually quite crowded, they are comparative in price to bus travel and are a much safer mode of transport. It is worth noting, however, that since they can be busy it is a good idea to book your ticket at least two to three days in advance to ensure that you get a seat. Many stations, particularly in the bigger cities have special booths for foreigners where you probably won’t have to queue as long but prices are more expensive.
While long-distance buses are the most popular means of getting around the country and are both frequent and cheap, some of the private services can prove quite dangerous. While this is probably the exception as rather than the norm, it is recommended that you avail of government-operated services which are safer and more reliable. They do travel to several areas not served by train, however, as well as taking you through some wonderful scenery which you probably wouldn’t see otherwise and should not be disregarded as a means of getting around the country.