While writing about the Dragon Boat Festival I found myself getting off topic by talking too much about Ctrip.com. If you’re going to live in China (or even if you’re just visiting), you should get familiar with Ctrip – the Skyscanner of China. You can download their app or just use their website that’s available in multiple languages including English.

As soon as you can you should sign up for an account to start collecting benefits. Any time you book a trip, you’ll get points towards accommodation, etc. What makes Ctrip truly great is that it’s not only for booking flights, train tickets or hotels. They also offer tours and information on things to do around China. Occasionally, they also offer great deals on packaged trips to nearby countries that include transportation and accommodation.

Things that are good to know about Ctrip:

  • If you’re searching for flights you always have the option of choosing multiple cities.
  • You can find hostels and hotels that aren’t even available on Western websites.
  • It remembers your passenger information which makes it easier to book flights. You can add up to several passengers to automatically input all of their info.
  • Flights from Shanghai to Beijing are generally cheaper than trains from Shanghai to Beijing.
  • You can’t book train tickets until 60 or sometimes 30 days before the trip. It will tell you the exact date and time that booking will become available. If it’s on a weekend or during a holiday, tickets will sell out fast… and I mean FAST.
  • Sometimes there are problems booking a flight on your phone. This can be solved by calling them and having them do the booking for you, which is time consuming but effective.
  • It’s very easy to cancel tickets and you get refunded immediately. Keep in mind that you don’t get the booking fee back.
  • Once or twice I saw better deals on Ctrip than on Skyscanner. Skyscanner does search Ctrip’s website, but if you’re flying within China you might as well search directly on Ctrip. However Skyscanner can be better if you’re flexible because by searching “everywhere”, “entire month” or “cheapest month” you can find the absolutely lowest price.

Ctrip is a truly great website that you should take advantage of. If you know any tips or hacks for using it, please share in the comment section below!

 

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