International Flights to China
As standard the international flights on our group tours are with British Airways (upgrades are available). If you have a preferred partner or destination that is not listed please enquire and we will do our best to meet your request (subject to availability). The quickest and easiest option for UK passengers is a direct flight from London with British Airways or Virgin Atlantic. Other (sometimes cheaper alternatives) include flying with Air China, Finnair, Emirates, KLM and Lufthansa.
In-direct International Flights to China
In-direct international options from London usually involve a stop/change in the home hub of the airline, for example: Emirates fly from London to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong with a stopover in Dubai for 3 hours. KLM fly from London to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Xiamen and Hong Kong with a stopover in Amsterdam of 2 hours. Lufthansa fly from London to Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong with a stopover in Frankfurt/Munich of 2 hours. Finnair fly from London to Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong with a stopover of 90 minutes. These flights inevitably take a bit longer, but can on occasion work out to be the most cost-effective.
Regional UK Departures
British Airways have domestic connections with London from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle. KLM have domestic connections with Amsterdam from Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Humberside, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester…they have a large network of internal flights in China. These options are more convenient if you do not live near London.
Internal flights are the quickest and most convenient way to cover the large distances when travelling in China. During our tours transport methods include; flights, trains, coaches and private cars with air-co.
Train Travel in China
China’s rail network has expanded dramatically over the past decade with the construction of an extensive high-speed train service. Journeys that were traditionally taken on overnight sleeper trains can now be completed in just a few hours. Extensive investment into the rail system has produced an efficient, reliable, high-tech service with safe, comfortable bullet trains covering vast distances in shorter journey times. Domestic train travel in China is a wonderful way to see more of the countryside and scenery away from the big cities. Many high speed rail journeys have now become quicker than flying.
Facilities on Board
Daytime high-speed trains have first and second-class seats; some have business class. Second-class seats are the most economical but are still spacious and comfortable. The high-speed trains have western toilets aboard the train, luggage racks for general luggage as well as luggage closets for larger items. Free WiFi is available aboard some trains. Free drinkable hot water is available on board and there is a dining car serving a selection of food and drink. An on-board attendant will also serve snacks and drinks from a trolley. Passengers in business class will be served with complimentary meals and beverages.
Your guide will meet you on the platform. However, some trains are now so fast that no-one is allowed onto the platform until after the train has arrived. In these instances it’s hard for the guide to come in quickly against the flow of passengers, so you should stay put until your guide finds you. The guide will know where on the platform you can be found, and this will avoid you having to look for multiple exits. Your guide can ask the carriage attendant to warn you 5 minutes or so before you arrive at your station. Local trains, e.g. to Suzhou, may be a through train, stopping only very briefly, about 2 minutes, so make sure you are ready! Sometimes you may need to show your ticket to get off the platform when you arrive, so hang on to it, just in case.
Each carriage is numbered and each bunk is numbered, which is shown on your ticket. In the carriage each 4-berth cabin is also numbered, which is not shown on your ticket, e.g. you are in Carriage #6, berth 7. Berth 7 will actually be in cabin 2 (Cabin 1 has berths 1-4; Cabin 2 has berths 5-8 etc).
You will need to go to the waiting room for your train number and destination. In large stations the information is in Chinese and English, and in the smaller stations you can ue the train number to see which platform / waiting room to use. Doors from the waiting room to the platform will be opened when the train arrives, and close 5 minutes before it leaves. However, on some of the smaller trains the procedure is different. Once the doors are open, find the right platform. Don’t underestimate this task, it may involve quite a bit of walking, and some stairs, as one waiting room may give access to many platforms. Sometimes you can get on early, with the help of your guide, who can pay a porter a few Yuan to give you early access to the platform. The main point is GET THERE IN GOOD TIME.
Taking a taxi is a most comfortable, easy and secure way of getting around any city in China. There are plenty of them available, simply hail one and the next available taxi will pull over for you. Prices vary from city to city, but on the whole they are quite affordable costing you only a few £ pounds each time. Tip; make sure when you get in the taxi they turn their metre on!