Around the world travelers are becoming increasingly environmentally aware and looking at other transport alternatives, however, for the meanwhile, flying remains the easiest, and most popular, way to arrive in China. Beijing (PEK), Shanghai (PVG) and Hong Kong (HKG) are the major international hubs to choose from, and are all served by a wide range of international and domestic carriers. Cathay Pacific Airlines, Hong Kong's main international carrier, is effortlessly superior to North American airlines in service standards, and should be the first choice for direct flights to Hong Kong where available. Guangzhou's new Baiyun Airport (CAN) is also connected to an increasing number of cities around the world, and prices can be considerably lower than to nearby Hong Kong. You should select your hub airport according to where you want to travel, and consider flying into one and out of another if that fits your itinerary and you can get a reasonable fare.
Note that there is no departure tax on either domestic or international flights and that that all taxes and fees are usually included in ticket prices.
From North America -- Among North American airlines, Air Canada (www.aircanada.com) flies to Beijing and Shanghai, Northwest Airlines (www.nwa.com) to Beijing via Tokyo, and United Airlines (www.united.com) to Beijing and Shanghai.
Japan Airlines (www.jal.com) flies via Tokyo to Beijing and Shanghai, but also to Dalian, Qingdao, and Xiamen. All Nippon Airways (www.ana.co.jp) flies to Beijing, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Tianjin, and Xiamen. Korean Air (www.koreanair.com) flies via Seoul to Beijing, Qingdao, and Shenyang; and Asiana Airlines (us.flyasiana.com) flies via Seoul to Beijing, Changchun, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Guilin, Harbin, Nanjing, Shanghai, Xi'an, and Yantai.
Hong Kong is served by Air Canada (www.aircanada.com), American Airlines (www.aa.com), Continental Airlines (www.continental.com), Delta Airlines (www.delta.com), Northwest Airlines (www.nwa.com), US Airways (www.usairways.com), and United Airlines (www.united.com), as well as Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airlines (www.cathaypacific.com). Indirect routes are offered by All Nippon Airways (www.ana.co.jp), Asiana Airlines (us.flyasiana.com), China Airlines (via Taipei; www.china-airlines.com), Eva Airways (excellent value, also via Taipei; www.evaair.com.tw), Korean Air (www.koreanair.com), and Japan Airlines (www.jal.com).
From the United Kingdom -- British Airways (www.britishairways.com) flies to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, and Virgin Airlines to Shanghai and Hong Kong (www.virgin-atlantic.com). Cathay Pacific (www.cathaypacific.com) also flies directly to Hong Kong. Fares with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (www.klm.com) via Amsterdam, with Lufthansa (www.lufthansa.com) via Frankfurt, and with Finnair (www.finnair.com) via Helsinki, can often be considerably cheaper. Fares with eastern European airlines such as Tarom Romanian Air Transport (www.tarom.ro) via Bucharest, and with Aeroflot (www.aeroflot.ru/eng) via Moscow, or with Asian airlines such as Pakistan International Airlines (www.piac.com.hk) via Islamabad or Karachi, Malaysia Airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com) via Kuala Lumpur, or Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com) via Singapore, can be cheaper still. There are even more creative route possibilities via Ethiopia or the Persian Gulf States.
From Australia & New Zealand -- There's not much choice to the mainland from down under, although Sydney is served by China Eastern and Air China to Beijing and Shanghai, and by Air China and China Southern to Guangzhou. Qantas (www.qantas.com.au) flies to Shanghai and Hong Kong and Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.com) offers Hong Kong flights. There are possible indirect routes with Philippine Airlines (www.philippineairlines.com) via Manila, and with Garuda Indonesia (www.garuda-indonesia.com) via Jakarta. Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific (www.cathaypacific.com) flies directly from six Australian cities and Auckland.
By Car & Bus
Foreign visitors are not permitted to drive their own vehicles into China, without prior arrangement through a state-recognized travel agency. The agency will provide a guide who will travel in your vehicle and make sure you stick to the itinerary, or who will travel in a second vehicle with a driver. You will have to cover all the costs of guide, driver, and extra vehicle if needed, and of Chinese plates for your vehicle.
There are bus services between Sost in Pakistan and Kashgar, between Almaty in Kazakhstan and Ürumqi, and between Hong Kong and Macau to various points in the mainland. The Torugart Pass between Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and Kashgar can be crossed if prearranged transport is waiting to collect you on the Chinese side. It's also possible to cross various borders on foot, including from Mongolia on the route from Ulaan Baatar to Beijing, from Vietnam to Yunnan and Guangxi provinces, from Laos to Yunnan, and from Macau and Hong Kong to Guangdong Province.
From Hung Hom station in Kowloon (Hong Kong), expresses run directly to Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai (visit www.throughtrain.kcrc.com for schedules and fares). From Almaty in Kazakhstan there are trains to Ürumqi in Xinjiang. From Moscow there are trains via Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia to Beijing, and via a more easterly route directly to Harbin in China's northeast and down to Beijing. There is a service between Beijing and Pyongyang in North Korea.
Few travelers arrive in China by ship, but it is still an option, and cruise liners stop off at Hong Kong, Xingang (for Beijing), and Shanghai. Cruises last for a fortnight to months, but generally only spend a few days in dock. Cruise companies which run to China include: Cunard (www.cunard.com); P&O (www.pocruises.com); Princess (www.princess.com); Seabourn (www.seabourrn.com); and Star (www.starcruises.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.