We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!
Look carefully at China and you’ll find there’s much beauty within, far beyond the crowded, bustling cities.
Its countryside hosts a haven of tranquility, with rolling plains, paddy fields carved into mountains and lakes and deserts that blend seamlessly into the horizon.
It’s 14,000 kilometres of coastline features cliffside drops, port towns and sandy beaches.Even within major city centres, historical spaces, monuments and awe-inspiring temples wheedle their way out of the woodwork.
We've done the research and have put together a guide on travelling to China from Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the latest rules around vaccination, quarantine and testing requirements.
Up to 60% off activities, experiences and things to do
Valid on select dates including holidays like Christmas, New Year's and more depending on the destination. Destinations include Hong Kong, Singapore, Osaka, Taipei, Dubai, Sydney, Melbourne, London, Paris, New York and more. T&Cs apply.
China is a large country and has an equally large number of transport options.
Below you will find information on the main transport options available in China to help you choose the ones that suit you best.
As China is such a vast country, if you are intending to travel between cities you may want to consider fast transport to save on time, including internal flights and the high speed rail. Your best mode of transport within each city will depend on how large the city you're visiting is as well as how concentrated the tourist attractions are.
It's best to research this before arriving so that you can commute easily between your desired attractions with minimum fuss or stress.
Travelling between cities in China
For an idea of how far major cities are from one another, Shanghai and Beijing are approximately 1,200 kilometres apart. An internal flight for this route takes 2 hours 15 minutes. A high-speed train journey takes anything from 5-9 hours depending on how many stops your service commands. Bus travel is cheaper, though leaves and arrives at terminals outside the city centres. Total journey times from centre to centre is around 8 hours.
Xi'an is near equidistant from Shanghai and Beijing. Flights from each are around 2 hours. High speed trains from Shanghai take between 6 and 11 hours, depending on the number of stops. High speed trains from Beijing take between 4.5 and 6 hours. Buses are more expensive though can take up to 15 hours.
Generally, train travel is preferred over bus or coach travel between major Chinese cities.
Internal flights. Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Changan Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Shanghai Airlines are some of the major domestic airlines operating in China. They have regular flights connecting Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Xiamen.
High speed rail. China has the world's largest network of high speed rail, also known as bullet trains or CRH trains. These are a fast, reliable and affordable means of travel in central and eastern regions of China. You can see the high speed rail map here.
Types of transport available in China
Buses in China are cheap and quite comfortable, although they are also very slow. To buy a ticket, go to the bus station in the city where you are staying. The officials usually speak English, so you will not have too much of a problem buying a ticket.
Trains are one of the best options in China for cheap, fast and safe travel. To travel from one major city to another, you can take a bullet train, which is really fast but also much more expensive than standard trains. It is highly recommended that you buy the tickets at least two days in advance because seats sell out quickly. You can purchase tickets in person at the train station or online through an authorised agency.
Although subways can get crowded during rush hour, they are a highly effective means of transportation within cities given their convenience, cleanliness, reliability and speed.
In China, you can also rent bicycles from several hotels. The streets and highways are flat but the traffic is unpredictable and quite dangerous. Most of Beijing's main streets have bike lanes which are safer than the roadway, although they are often crowded with thousands of cyclists at peak times.
Using public transport in China
Paying for transport. To buy a train ticket, you need your passport and enough cash to buy the ticket. You can also buy a China Rail Pass, which is a pre-paid electronic card you can use on bullet trains. In addition, each subway has its own smart-card which offers discounted fares and ease of access.
Getting to and from the airport. In every major city in China, public buses and an underground metro connect the airport to the city centre. Private transfers, airport shuttles and taxis are other options to get to and from the airport in each city.
Best apps for getting around. China Metrois a useful app that has downloadable subway maps of 15 cities with information about fares, timetables and shortest routes. If you are looking to travel from one city to another by train, the China Trains app can help you plan your journey and book tickets.
China car hire rental
Car rental desks of major car hire services like Avis, Budget, Europcar,Hertz, DriveNow and Dollar are available at the major airports in China.
Taxis and rideshare
Taxi. If you don't want to take public transport, taking a taxi is a good option in China. There are many taxis and they are very economical. It is important to carry the destination written in Chinese as drivers are unlikely to speak English. Chinese tuk-tuks are cheaper than taxis, but you must agree to a price beforehand.
Rideshare. Uber is not available in China, but you can use other app-based, on-demand taxis in China like Didi.
Airport transfers in China
You can find several private transfer and airport shuttle services that provide door-to-door transfer to the airport in every major city in China.
Many of these can be found on Viator or City Discovery. Transfers to some of the more popular locations can be booked below.
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for Travel Weekly, Escape, Showpo, The Nibbler and Hostelworld. She was also the editor of kids magazine DMAG. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney and has visited 55 countries (and counting).
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
Important information about this website
finder.com.au is one of Australia's leading comparison websites. We compare from a wide set of banks, insurers and product issuers. We value our editorial independence and follow editorial guidelines.
finder.com.au has access to track details from the product issuers listed on our sites. Although we provide information on the products offered by a wide range of issuers, we don't cover every available product or service.
Please note that the information published on our site should not be construed as personal advice and does not consider your personal needs and circumstances. While our site will provide you with factual information and general advice to help you make better decisions, it isn't a substitute for professional advice. You should consider whether the products or services featured on our site are appropriate for your needs. If you're unsure about anything, seek professional advice before you apply for any product or commit to any plan.
Products marked as 'Promoted' or 'Advertisement' are prominently displayed either as a result of a commercial advertising arrangement or to highlight a particular product, provider or feature. Finder may receive remuneration from the Provider if you click on the related link, purchase or enquire about the product. Finder's decision to show a 'promoted' product is neither a recommendation that the product is appropriate for you nor an indication that the product is the best in its category. We encourage you to use the tools and information we provide to compare your options.
Where our site links to particular products or displays 'Go to site' buttons, we may receive a commission, referral fee or payment when you click on those buttons or apply for a product. You can learn more about how we make money here.
When products are grouped in a table or list, the order in which they are initially sorted may be influenced by a range of factors including price, fees and discounts; commercial partnerships; product features; and brand popularity. We provide tools so you can sort and filter these lists to highlight features that matter to you.
We try to take an open and transparent approach and provide a broad-based comparison service. However, you should be aware that while we are an independently owned service, our comparison service does not include all providers or all products available in the market.
Some product issuers may provide products or offer services through multiple brands, associated companies or different labelling arrangements. This can make it difficult for consumers to compare alternatives or identify the companies behind the products. However, we aim to provide information to enable consumers to understand these issues.
Providing or obtaining an estimated insurance quote through us does not guarantee you can get the insurance. Acceptance by insurance companies is based on things like occupation, health and lifestyle. By providing you with the ability to apply for a credit card or loan, we are not guaranteeing that your application will be approved. Your application for credit products is subject to the Provider's terms and conditions as well as their application and lending criteria.