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Free Assistance - our travel experts are itching to show you the best flight deals to China.
To book a cheap flight from South Africa to China:
Use the airline comparison tool on the left to search for and reserve the cheapest flight.
Use any SouthAfrica.TO travel vouchers you have earned to discount the cost of that flight. If you don't have any yet, then now is the time to start getting some - simply email us a writeup of your trip to China, including who you flew with, why and how it went, and then we'll send you a travel voucher (the better the quality of the review the more you'll get, but everybody gets something).
28 July 2015 : Air China is once again postponing the launch of their direct flights between Johannesburg and Beijing. Originally they would have started operating the route in May 2015, which was then moved out to a later August date before they announced that they won't start before the 29th of October 2015. They have cited South Africa's strict visa requirements as one of the main reasons for the postponement. We are starting to wonder if there wasn't a good reason that SAA couldn't make it work financially.
3 February 2015 : SAA will stop flying to Beijing as of the end of April 2014. This is part of their 90 day turnaround strategy as the Beijing route was one of the biggest loss-making routes. Air China will be flying direct from Johannesburg to Beijing from the beginning of May 2015.
1 December 2013 : China introduces requirements for airlines flying into a new air-defense zone to file flight plans with the country. The zone includes disputed territorial areas. Japan isn't complying, but American airliners (mainly United Continental and Delta) are complying, in line with Federal Aviation advice. Meanwhile, US military planes are flying into the area without filing flight plans.
23 October 2013 : Flights to and from Harbin Taiping International Airport are cancelled due to severe smog in northern China, and its impact on visibility. Flights to Beijing have not been impacted.
September 2013 :Qatar Airways commences flights to Chengdu, its 6th destination in China (the others are Beijing, Chonqing, Hong Kong, Shanghai & Guangzhou).
1 July 2013. Foreigners living in China for more than 180 days will now require a residence permit. Tourist visas will only be extended once, for a maximum thirty days, from the thirty day allowed stay.
Foreigners from the following 45 countries may apply for 72 hour transit visa exemptions at Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou & Chengdu Airports: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherland, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovak, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States. South Africans can get a 72 hour transit visa only at Beijing and Shanghai (check the visa tool at the China National Tourism Office to check whether you qualify).
When in Shanghai, do not copy these fellas. I nearly had a heart attack just watching, it's so high.
Shanghai is excitingly breathing diversity and the place where yin really meets yang. While strolling around the old architecture of the Yuyuan Gardens, modern skyscrapers tower majestically behind detailed curved Chinese rooftops. In the distance you hear the speed of the Maglev train, pacing 430km/h from the station to the airport. Conservatively clothed monks and fashionably dressed believers bow with incense bundles at the Jade Buddha Temple, fragrantly filling the air with their prayers. The Yuyuan Bazaar is filled with antiques, knock-offs and tea shops while one of the busiest streets, metropolitan Nanjing Road, attracts fashion-shoppers from all walks of life. The Bund, next to the Huangpu River, is lined with historical buildings and has a magnificent night view of all the modern buildings in the Pudong area. The lights of the Oriental Pearl Tower lure you closer and you hop on a quick ferry ride to stand next to the World Financial Centre, the second-tallest building in the world at 492 meters. On the 87th floor of the Jin Mao Tower is Cloud 9, the highest bar in the world, offering expensive cocktails with a priceless experience. One of the lines of the busy Shanghai Metro takes you almost all the way to the ancient water town of Qibua where Gondola boats are floating under old bridges and the smell of roasting peking ducks aromatically fills the air. It's Shanghai – it's the vibrant, crowded Westernised heart of China.
Written by Anje Rautenbach
As a South African living and working here in China, it's an amazing feeling. China is cultural shock for those that haven't visited or wish to work here. I'm in a fortunate position in that I took on a vacancy as a foreign teacher in an accomplished English Institution. Although China is crawling with foreigners and South Africans as well, I'm yet to meet a South African here. I'm in the South west of China, Chongqing and its growing at a rapid pace, it's not as modern as Shanghai but it's still an intriguing place to be in. Mind you it does have the usual Skycrapers of a modern city. Nonetheless you may want to know about a typical day in China. As a foreign language educator my teaching hours are from 1 to 9pm (5 days a week). I wake up to the sounds of my wonderful kids in an apartment block that is 33 storeys high, which is surronded by another 15 blocks in what is termed a community. Within the confines of the community you can find any little thing you'd want from a doctor to a travel agency, even a traditional Chinese massage parlour which is wonderful if you are into reflexology. Chinese people are thorough in what they do and if you are a foreigner you get an extra bit of pampering along with people gazing at you like you are from another planet. I have had the privilege of having a few foot and shoulder massages which cost 25 RMB/ Yuan. At this time of year (May) it's extremely hot with temperatures hovering in the mid 30's and summer is yet to come. I take the bus to work which is about 35km's away from my apartment, pay 1.80RMB (around R2.50) and sit in a comfortable air-conditioned bus to work. My wonderful wife prepares supper for me which I have at work from 5 to 6pm, I'm yet to get used to Chinese food so for now my wife's food is about the best in China. I work alongside an American, Australian and New Zealander- yep it's the Tri-nations going on here (Rugby fans). I"ve got 5 one hour classes per day, and that's the real excitement for me. I learn something new everyday be it Chinese or the fact that dogs and cats are eaten in China in rural areas alongside delicious rats and snakes (my students tell me this) - I haven't tried it and will not. I sometimes have to explain to the Chinese students that we don't find diamonds and gold in the streets in South Africa - their perception of our country is that we are a wealthy nation - I keep it that way and promote our country and especially Cape Town as "The Place" to visit in Africa. While I'm teaching my wife is at home with our 2 sons - yep they are South African, 7 and 4 year old boys respectively. They love the community we live in as it has all the amenities for kids such as a Jungle gym, sports area, games and enough space for them to run about. They usually receive plenty of attention from the locals and most times have to pose for pictures. Foreigners get superstar status if you are not living in Beijing or Shanghai or another major city and this sometimes can be overwhelming, even for my kids - in reality I'm so tired of it, but we generally smile when we take photos with the locals. We can't speak Chinese fluently but have managed to learn to say in Chinese , Ting Bu Dong, which means "We don't understand you". That's really funny because most Chinese expect you to speak their language and are somewhat bemused that we can't. Living in China is a culture shock, with mass amounts of people moving around day and night. We feel really safe here although we've been warned of petty crime, but we haven't come across an incident as yet. I personally love it, but my kids are getting increasingly frustrated and wish they were back in Cape Town with their family and friends. I hope that South Africans wishing to come to study or work here will see this as an opportunity of a lifetime and grasp it, but beware of the food you order and eat.
Submitted by Mohamed Asmal on 22 May 2013.
You may either want to time your vacation to coincide with a public holiday to join in the fun, or to avoid the date so as to minimise possible extra travel costs and crowds:
4 or 5 April (Qingming)
1 October (national day)
Chinese New Year
Mid Autumn Day
Weekends are usually swapped with the 2 days next to the public holiday to create a longer period off. If the holiday falls on a weekend, a day is given off after the weekend.