Tips to get cheap tickets to China from India

Recently I did a China trip, with my air fare costing only INR 20040 on full service airline Srilankan. Based on my experience and observations, below are a set of guidelines that can help you find cheap tickets to China, if you wish to explore the dragon nation without burning your pocket.
Getting cheap tickets to China (or any country) is a function of how flexible you are (w.r.t dates, destinations, airlines), how well informed you are (what price is cheapest, what price is cheaper and what price is expensive) and how smart you’re in tracking air fare prices, deals and booking quickly once you spot a tempting fare. Read this post for a set of ultimate tips

W.r.t flying to China from India, there're more options than you thought possible. Few China based airlines fly direct to select Indian cities like Delhi n Mumbai, while there're dozens of one top options- with Srilankan, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Emirates as well as low cost options such as Air Asia. You should study the airlines that offer flights to China from your city in India and zero in on the ones that are likely to provide cheaper and reliable service.

How much is a cheap ticket to China?
In my opinion, if you can fly there n back for under 18k it is super cheap. I would put up-to 24-25k return fare a good deal (if it includes baggage n meals and timing is convenient for you). More than 30k INR, I would say it is on the higher side and might be worth waiting for next promotional sale.

Where to fly to in China?
Most first time visitors fly in and out of Beijing or Shanghai, two post popular cities with lots of flight options. There're dozens of less popular cities you can consider-they may not have lot to offer, but if you get cheap tickets then you can fly in there, take trains to other Chinese cities. Do some research and decide. It may be good idea to enter via Beijing and exit via another city- say Shanghai or so, to avoid going back n forth.

Visit Beijing for Great wall of China, Tienanmen Square, Forbidden city, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven etc, Shanghai is a big metro like Singapore or Hong Kong.

If you’re based in South India
Your best bet will be wait for Srilankan Airline sales- whenever they launch 50% off or something in that Range. Srilankan offers flights to Beijing and Shanghai from various Indian cities- Chennai, Coimbatore, Kochi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and so on… Being a full service airline, Srilankan price includes baggage allowance and meals, hence more convenient even if it is a thousand or two rupees expensive than low cost airlines like AirAsia.  So create an account and track Srilankan for their next big discount sale.

Read my detailed experience with Srilankan Colombo-Beijing flight here

Malaysia airline: Malaysia airline occasionally offers 35-40% off sales, during which you may get Chennai-Shanghai return ticket for about 20-22k INR. Flight via Malayasia may save an hour or two of travel time compared to Srilankan but Malaysia airline flies to fewer Indian cities and doesn’t have a great reputation.

AirAsia: Air Asia flies to half a dozen Chinese cities including Shanghai and Beijing. But from Chennai they were not providing connectivity to Beijing. During a big sale you should be able to get a return ticket at around 18k INR if you can get the date n destination right. Food and Baggage extra. Air Asia now offers connectivity around the world from various Indian cities, even smaller ones like Vijayawada, Vizag etc so you may find more options.

Do check Scoot, Silkair, Cathay, Thai and SQ, though I didn't find anything exciting in terms of fare with these airlines.

If you’re based in North India
A few Chinese airlines like Air China, China Southern etc fly to New Delhi and Mumbai. When they run a sale it may be possible to get a direct ticket to their hubs in China at bargain prices. You can also try a stopover holiday with these airlines- while flying to some other destination plan a short stay in China.

I’ve seen a few times that Singapore airlines was also selling deeply discounted tickets to China from New Delhi- most probably to compete with other airlines. So keep an eye.

Another option is to club China tour with another destinations. Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong etc have lots of flights to China, some of them could be reasonably cheap. So you may wish to club your trip.

Visiting Macau and entering China via land border there is another option but this entry point is bit too far from major tourist attractions in China, hence may not be worth.

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