As elsewhere, there are several ways to get your air tickets in China. No matter if you are booking international or domestic, you can either go straight to the airline, to a travel agent or through a travel website. The necessity for any person to person contact is gradually being reduced however, so that you better be prepared to book online using a credit card.
A Chinese boarding pass
The traditional way
There are a few travel agents to be found randomly across the great city of Beijing. I have never visited one myself, so I would not be able to tell you of my experiences. However, it is common in China that small businesses, which most Chinese travel agents are, have not much to offer in terms of after sales, returns or complaint handling. So you are actually better of going to the airline offices directly. Most airlines flying to and fro China have offices in Beijing and Shanghai. Competent people will help you sort out your air travel needs on the spot and most of the time they even speak English. You can pay in cash or by card. Most of the time, however, you will be charged a premium for using up an employees precious time, which is why booking through travel websites is by far the most recommended method.
Confident name, but would you trust them with your travel needs?
Ctrip, Elong and all the others
There are several websites now competing for the growing travel market that is mainland China. The dominant player is www.ctrip.com with www.elong.net hot on its heels. Ctrip has recently been valued at something around 5bn USD, telling you that this is a serious business. The method of operation is very client friendly: you can either give them a call or visit the website to get your tickets booked. The calling method may be difficult if you do not speak any Chinese although services in English (not always the best) are offered. You are guaranteed the best prices and I have just checked on www.expedia.org. The same domestic route (same date and time) costs twice the money via Expedia in comparison to booking on Ctrip. That should be a reason to study Chinese.
Look no further