United traveler's first time to China

Old Sep 5, 17, 1:54 pm
  #1  
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United traveler's first time to China

Hello Flyertalk!

I've been working with a few companies in China and it's time to make a verification trip. So It looks like I will be traveling to China in the next week or two. I need to visit factories in CGO and TNA. Just a day in each city. This will be my first trip to China (or anywhere in Asia for that matter).

I am located in COS/DEN. I book my own travel and usually fly business for international trips. Would like to keep with United for the long haul if possible. (GS hopeful...)

Any tips on the best routing? It looks like I would either fly through PEK or PVR? Is one better than the other for a first timer? If PEK, I would take an extra day to visit the great wall. Not sure what is of interest in PVR? I see there are direct options from SFO, LAX and ORD. ORD has a nice Polaris lounge, but I believe SFO has the new Polaris seating on the 777ER.

I'm not sure if there are directs to these final destinations from outside of China, so haven't looked at Japan or HKG as options.

A quick search on google flights lists Air China for the last segments. Is this a good option or should I book with a different Chinese airline? I have never flown Air China.

I'm looking forward to a new adventure, but realize that a little planning and advice could have a big impact on my trip.

Thanks,

Zeug.
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Old Sep 5, 17, 2:23 pm
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I think you mean PVG not PVR in Mexico

PEK definitely more Chinese cultural sights. Also more flights as itís the main hub for Air China. PVG is rather cosmopolitan and Western in comparison ó skyscrapers, etc, akin to HK (but still no mistaking that youíre in the Mainland so prepare for culture shock)

Only the SFO-PEK flight has the new Polaris seats at this time.

Pretty much all Chinese domestic airlines are the same which is to say donít expect much. I would just choose based on schedule and convenience.

Last edited by Ryu2; Sep 5, 17 at 2:28 pm
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Old Sep 5, 17, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Ryu2 View Post
Pretty much all Chinese domestic airlines are the same which is to say donít expect much. I would just choose based on schedule and convenience.
Air China, Shenzhen Airlines, and Juneyao Airlines are all *A, so you should be able to credit miles to UA and get *G benefits if you fly with those carriers. Note that Chinese airlines do not allow the use of a mobile phone in flight, even in airplane mode. (Tablets are fine).
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Old Sep 5, 17, 2:52 pm
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http://wikitravel.org/en/Shanghai

Originally Posted by Zeug View Post
If PEK, I would take an extra day to visit the great wall. Not sure what is of interest in PVR?
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Old Sep 5, 17, 3:05 pm
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Old Sep 5, 17, 3:25 pm
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PVG - this is my favourite city in China. Well except for HGK.

Yes, PEK has the Forbidden Palace and access to the Great Wall but the air quality is so bad I try and avoid PEK (as do many Chinese - they are paid are premium to work in Beijing vs rest of China). I have done both cultural visits, although I actually hired a guide to take me four hours outside Beijing to hike the Great Wall for four hours and there as there are far fewer tourists the further out of Beijing you get (in terms of the Great Wall).

PVG is a wonderful modern city and you if you can get out to the old water town - Venice of China, it is well worth the visit.
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Old Sep 5, 17, 3:34 pm
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PEK has a lot of advantages for you in terms of flights and sights. I'd urge you to spend more than one day in PEK if you possibly can. Even two days would give you a lot better chance to see things. One day for Great Wall (private car or bus trips easily available) and one day for Forbidden City/Tiananmen Square. Neither of those outings needs to take an entire day so you can combine them into one long day if needed.

Here's an example of a combined itinerary with bus or private car.
http://www.beijinglandscapes.com/bei...uare-tour.html

There are a few areas of the Great Wall that people go to, some more heavily touristed than others. Some Great Wall only trips will take you to two different sites during one day.

https://www.travelchinaguide.com/chi...scene/beijing/

Finally, opinions vary but we love Silk Street (actually a mall with 1700 vendors). I think it's open in the evening so you could go after sightseeing when other things are closed.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_Street

As noted above if you stay on *A domestic airlines, as *G you'll get lounge access (where available) and probably some miles but I certainly wouldn't reject a better routing or timing on a non-*A carrier.

I agree with the poster above that PVG is a nicer and more welcoming city to spend time in. If you do go, a day trip to Suzhou is fantastic. I hired a car, driver, and guide for the day from Shanghai although you have a lot of traffic going there and back. Another option is to take the train and get a driver and guide on the Suzhou end.

Last edited by LAX UA 1K; Sep 5, 17 at 3:49 pm Reason: more info
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Old Sep 5, 17, 4:04 pm
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Yes ... opinions vary, considering "notorious among international tourists for their wide selection of counterfeit designer brand apparel"

Originally Posted by LAX UA 1K View Post
Finally, opinions vary but we love Silk Street (actually a mall with 1700 vendors). I think it's open in the evening so you could go after sightseeing when other things are closed.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_Street
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Old Sep 5, 17, 4:07 pm
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Originally Posted by Zeug View Post
Hello Flyertalk!

I've been working with a few companies in China and it's time to make a verification trip. So It looks like I will be traveling to China in the next week or two. I need to visit factories in CGO and TNA. Just a day in each city. This will be my first trip to China (or anywhere in Asia for that matter).

I am located in COS/DEN. I book my own travel and usually fly business for international trips. Would like to keep with United for the long haul if possible. (GS hopeful...)

Any tips on the best routing? It looks like I would either fly through PEK or PVR? Is one better than the other for a first timer? If PEK, I would take an extra day to visit the great wall. Not sure what is of interest in PVR? I see there are direct options from SFO, LAX and ORD. ORD has a nice Polaris lounge, but I believe SFO has the new Polaris seating on the 777ER.

I'm not sure if there are directs to these final destinations from outside of China, so haven't looked at Japan or HKG as options.

A quick search on google flights lists Air China for the last segments. Is this a good option or should I book with a different Chinese airline? I have never flown Air China.

I'm looking forward to a new adventure, but realize that a little planning and advice could have a big impact on my trip.

Thanks,

Zeug.
I have traveled to CGO quite a bit. I usually fly China southern for PEK-CGO, OR I'll take the train. The trains from Beijing to CGO are fantastic... very fast, comfortable and cost effective.
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Old Sep 5, 17, 4:16 pm
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PEK or PVG, may I suggest both, that is like coming to the US and deciding on visiting Washington DC or NYC, they are two totally different experiences.

Beijing is unique and a must visit for cultural / history and as the capital. Can be done in three days or less with visits to Forbidden Palace, Ming's Tomb, Summer Palace and of course the Great Wall. Unless you are incredible lucky expect horrible traffic and even more horrible air quality. But if you capture a good day, could be a lifetime moment. I travel every other week to China and have no interest in visiting the capital, mostly the air and traffic.

Shanghai is an amazing modern city with great transportation. Traffic is bad, not as bad is Beijing, ditto with air. YOu can see the sites in a little more than a day and half IMHO. The Bund, Financial Center, Classic old river town, and perhaps East Najing Road . World class city with world class dining, drinks and clubs, if you know who to go with My second home away from home at the moment.

And if you are into the counterfeit stuff stop on Line 2 Shanghai Science and Technology Stop, exit two Xinyang Market and refuse to pay more than 30% of the original asking price

As to airline, UA to SFO and direct flight to either PEK or PVG. At least to PVG UA has three flights a day and can't be beat for schedule. If it wasn't for that flexibility I'm almost certain I'd have moved to AC or HU as my longhaul. Sadly my company only picks up economy As to inter China, I'd say they are all similar people herders.

As another suggest the high speed rail is something you must try, they are decades ahead in infrastructure than the US.

Enjoy China!
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Last edited by chipmaster; Sep 5, 17 at 4:23 pm
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Old Sep 5, 17, 5:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Zeug View Post
Any tips on the best routing? It looks like I would either fly through PEK or PVR? Is one better than the other for a first timer?
If you want to take one day to visit something, then you want PEK, not PVG. Shanghai, from a cultural standpoint, is much more limited - as people said, skyscrapers, some interesting, but then you just don't head to China for skyscrapers, right? Beijing has much more to offer.

The downside of course is that Beijing can be smoky at times - right now, it will likely not be too bad. Shanghai can be quite moist and have delays due to typhoons. So, from a flying perspective, it is a wash. I often found J seats for PEK being at a significant discount compared to PVG, but not always.

Being in Denver, I think your ideal flight goes through SFO. Not sure about the new seating, maybe, if it is available I would go for it for sure.

PEK is also the home of Air China, which is nice for connections. Service-wise, not the best, but all Chinese airlines are about in the same category, you cannot expect much. For refined service, you would need to pay a visit to Japan, Korea or Singapore if SQ. Maybe for your next trip?
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Old Sep 5, 17, 5:42 pm
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Originally Posted by chipmaster View Post
PEK or PVG, may I suggest both, that is like coming to the US and deciding on visiting Washington DC or NYC, they are two totally different experiences.

Beijing is unique and a must visit for cultural / history and as the capital. Can be done in three days or less with visits to Forbidden Palace, Ming's Tomb, Summer Palace and of course the Great Wall. Unless you are incredible lucky expect horrible traffic and even more horrible air quality. But if you capture a good day, could be a lifetime moment. I travel every other week to China and have no interest in visiting the capital, mostly the air and traffic.

Shanghai is an amazing modern city with great transportation. Traffic is bad, not as bad is Beijing, ditto with air. YOu can see the sites in a little more than a day and half IMHO. The Bund, Financial Center, Classic old river town, and perhaps East Najing Road . World class city with world class dining, drinks and clubs, if you know who to go with My second home away from home at the moment.

And if you are into the counterfeit stuff stop on Line 2 Shanghai Science and Technology Stop, exit two Xinyang Market and refuse to pay more than 30% of the original asking price

As to airline, UA to SFO and direct flight to either PEK or PVG. At least to PVG UA has three flights a day and can't be beat for schedule. If it wasn't for that flexibility I'm almost certain I'd have moved to AC or HU as my longhaul. Sadly my company only picks up economy As to inter China, I'd say they are all similar people herders.

As another suggest the high speed rail is something you must try, they are decades ahead in infrastructure than the US.

Enjoy China!
I really like this reply. What I want to add is to take high-speed trains between Zhengzhou and Beijing once. For example, if you visit Zhengzhou first, take the flight and return with trains. Otherwise, fly back from Zhengzhou to Beijing. The fast train between Beijing and Jinan is only 1.5 hr with half-hour frequency. The train between Jinan and Zhengzhou is slower, taking 3.5 hours. I would suggest to download ctrip App to check the train schedule. You can buy train tickets in any train station. You do not need to reserve tickets unless your date falls within some Chinese holidays (such as around October 1 and Spring Festival).
P.S.: Open jaw is another option; DEN-SFO-PEK/PVG-SFO-DEN
Good luck.
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Old Sep 5, 17, 6:56 pm
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Connecting in PEK is just terrible. The connection experience is awful, and many domestic flights within China are delayed. I fly PEK SHA 3-4x/month and >50% are delayed regardless of which airline. It has to do with the military. If you fly to PEK and stay for a day or two, you could take the train to SHA. It's about 5 hours, so when you count check in times etc, about the same as flying. When you count delays, it's usually better. All my local friends here take the train. I still fly but I do it for the miles and have gotten good at rolling with the delays and keeping myself productive.

I live in PEK and today the sky is blue. Hope you come on a blue sky day, otherwise, bring a mask.

You can't beat the great wall - it's worth seeing at least once in your life. Probably best to just go a tourist area if it's your first time. Go to Mutanyu and take the toboggans down the mountain. It's pretty fun.
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Old Sep 5, 17, 6:56 pm
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Maybe the OP should look at the ticket cost through both cities. The last two times I could get a business class return ticket on United to PEK for around $4,000. For PVG, when I had to go there, United wanted $16,000. Same thing for HKG. At the $4,000 price point, I flew Business. At the $16,000 price point, I had to settle for Economy. OK, Economy +, but still painful.
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Old Sep 5, 17, 7:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Zeug View Post
I am located in COS/DEN. I book my own travel and usually fly business for international trips. Would like to keep with United for the long haul if possible. (GS hopeful...)

Any tips on the best routing? It looks like I would either fly through PEK or PVR? Is one better than the other for a first timer? If PEK, I would take an extra day to visit the great wall. Not sure what is of interest in PVR? I see there are direct options from SFO, LAX and ORD. ORD has a nice Polaris lounge, but I believe SFO has the new Polaris seating on the 777ER.
I'm assuming you mean PVG not PVR, as that is the Mexican resort town Puerto Vallarta. SFO-PEK is getting the new 77W with Polaris seating tomorrow. For Beijing vs. Shanghai: I prefer Shanghai because I hate the pollution in Beijing. Beijing definitely has much more culture and traditional Chinese elements, while Shanghai is more modern fused with Chinese culture.

If you are willing to take an extra day to experience China, here is my recommendation. I would fly COS-DEN-SFO-PEK or COS-ORD-PVG because PEK-SFO has the new Polaris seats while PVG-SFO does not, so if you are going to PVG you might as well choose the option with less stops and visit the Polaris lounge at O'Hare. Spend a day in either city and fly PVG/PEK-CGO. If you fly from PEK, you can fly Air China and earn miles on UA. On the return, I would choose to visit either Hong Kong, which is my favorite city in China and then book TNA-HKG nonstop on Shenzhen Airlines (which is *A so you get miles), spend a day in Hong Kong, and then book HKG-SFO-DEN-COS to get the Polaris seats.

Originally Posted by Zeug View Post
A quick search on google flights lists Air China for the last segments. Is this a good option or should I book with a different Chinese airline? I have never flown Air China.
I haven't found any of the government owned airlines in China to be particularly great. They are fine and will do the job. Air China and Shenzhen Airlines are the two *A airlines in China. Specific to the routing I suggested, going via PEK will give maximize your earnings, but you earn so few miles on PEK/PVG-CGO that I wouldn't even make that a factor in your decision on Beijing vs. Shanghai. Going via HKG on the return gives you additional miles because it is a longer journey by a couple of hours.


I am saying all of this from COS because it gives you at least one extra segment on UA for mileage/GS.
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