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List of Chinese Airport Codes & More

China Airport Code List

If you plan to fly into China, you’ll have plenty of options of where to land. At the time of writing, China has over 200 active airports. It is estimated that, within the next 15 years, this number will increase to at least 450!

New airports are a booming part of the construction industry in China, so we can expect rapid growth in this region over the coming years, due to high demand.

A Chinese airport code is a 3-digit sequence that identifies a particular airport. For example, Shanghai Pudong International has the code PVG.

Some codes in China are obvious. Others may look a little random when you first look at them. It is advisable to learn the codes for any airport in China that you plan to visit.

Meanwhile, to check your visa requirements to go to China, visit our dedicated China visa page.

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What Are the China Airport Codes?

It would be exhausting to list the codes for every airport in the country. This would take you forever to read. In addition, you will likely never need to use most of these codes. Moreover, as China is so big, some destinations only serve internal and domestic flights.

Instead, here is a list of the codes for the 30 biggest and most important airports in China. If you plan to fly to China, it is advisable to learn the China airport codes for where you’re flying to. Among other things, this will make it much easier to research flights over the internet.

Guangzhou Baiyun International CAD
Zhengzhou Xinzheng International CGO
Chongqing Jiangbei International CKG
Changsha Huanghua International CSX
Chengdu Shuangliu International CTU
Zhoushuizi Airport DLC
Fuzhou Changle International FOC
Haikou Meilan International HAK
Hangzhou Xiaoshan International HGH
Taiping Airport HRB
Kunming Changshui International KMG
Longdongbao Airport KWE
Guilin Liangjiang International KWL
Ningbo Lishe International NGB
Nanjing Lukou Airport NKG
Nanning Wuxu Airport NNG
Beijing Capital International PEK
Shanghai Pudong International PVG
Shanghai Hongqiao International SHA
Taoxian Airport SHE
Sanya Phoenix International SYX
Shenzhen Bao’an International SZX
Liuting Airport TAO
Yaoqiang Airport TNA
Tianjin Binhai International TSN
Taiyuan Wusu Airport TYN
Ürümqi Diwopu International URC
Wuhan Tianhe International WUH
Xi’an Xianyang International XIY
Xiamen Gaoqi International XMN

If you want to learn the China airport codes for different destinations, they are easy to find. When booking a flight, you should always search by airport code rather than by city name. You are much likelier to end up in the right place this way!

Do I Need a 3-Digit Code to Fly to China?

The code is not something that you take with you, it is a shorthand way to tell airports apart. In particular, the code helps you differentiate between multiple airports in the same Chinese city or province. To this end, most travel websites and aeroplane e-tickets list an airport code, rather than the full name of an airport.

The codes will also be helpful if you do not speak Chinese. For example, if you are at the airport and want to know which gate you need to board your flight, the staff may not be able to help you. However, the relevant codes will be displayed all over the building.

This means you will be able to see where to go at a glance! Whilst you will see many signs written in Chinese symbols, usually you will also see the codes written in English as this is the international lingua franca (common tongue).

Can I Fly to China Without Knowing an Airport Code?

Yes, but you may make your life more tricky. China is very large, and many of the major cities and provinces have more than 1 airport. If you wish to fly to Shanghai, for example, you will have a choice of 2 options.

These are the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (airport code SHA) and the Shanghai Pudong International Airport (airport code PVG). These 2 may share a city, but they are over 50 miles apart. In Shanghai traffic, this could take you a while to get from one to the other if need be!

What’s more, if you wish to travel to a general province, you will have even more options. It is easy to get confused and find yourself landing far from where you need to be.

As such, by learning the designated codes, you can search for flights directly into the airport that you need. In addition, you can check your flight itinerary for any changes and stopovers to know exactly which parts of China you will be visiting.

How Are Chinese Airport Codes Decided?

This is an interesting question, as some codes don’t seem to be related to the airport’s name! Whether it is China or another part of the world, codes are assigned by 2 separate entities and thoroughly checked so that there is no duplication.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) assign the 3-letter codes that you will see when booking a flight.

Another coding is used by the International Air Transport Organisation (IATO) for use both by airlines in their flight planning and by Air Traffic Control to process the routes and mapping. These are 4-letter codes.

That said, you will not need the 4-letter version unless you are tracking a flight, which you can do these days to get an approximate arrival time of friends or family,

Do All Airports in China Fly Internationally?

China is very large and offers a great many airports. This means that, while some only fly to destinations within the country, others allow international flights to other countries.

China’s international airports are usually much bigger and busier than the smaller, more provincial destinations. When you arrive, it may be advisable to book a taxi in advance to get to your final destination and arrive faster. Alternatively, you can use public transport.

The 6 most popular international airports in China are:

  • Beijing Airport (code PEK)
  • Shanghai Pudong (code PVG)
  • Hong Kong International (code HKG)
  • Guangzhou Baiyun (code CAN)
  • Chengdu Shuangliu International (code CTU)
  • Kunming Changshui International (code KMG)

This obviously is not the full list of all worldwide hubs in China. That said, you will find at least one Chinese hub in every major city and, In many cases, you’ll find two. This means that you should always learn the codes for your destination.

What Is China’s Main Airport?

Beijing is the capital and the largest city in the country by landmass. It is not the most densely populated – that is Guangzhou – but it remains one of the most popular tourist destinations and business hubs in China.

This means that Beijing Capital International Airport is considered the main one in China. The airport code for this destination is PEK. However, Beijing also has a newer, second facility. This is called Beijing Daxing International. The code here is PKX. This second facility was built in order to ease passenger traffic and both remain highly popular.

Beijing Capital International is the busiest airport in the country, both internationally and domestically. Beijing Daxing International is growing increasingly popular though, and Beijing Capital International is experiencing a drop in passenger numbers as a result.

It is expected that Beijing Daxing International will soon become the most prominent and most famous flight hub in China!

Here’s a bit more detail about the country’s biggest airport.

About Beijing International (Airport Code PEK)

Transport on Arrival/Departure

Outside the terminals, you can avail yourself of either:

  • Buses.
  • Shuttle buses, stopping at various points including some hotels.
  • Taxis, which cost around Y20 to the centre of town, plus mileage, and take around 40 minutes in light traffic.
  • The Beijing Subway Airport Express (BSAE) from Terminals 2 and 3, which costs around Y24 with a journey time of 20 minutes.

If you take a taxi, be aware that there is a standard charge for just getting into the vehicle, and then the fare is charged at a rate per kilometre. Bearing in mind any possible traffic, make sure you have enough cash on you. If you are travelling light, your best bet is the BSAE (Beijing Subway Airport Express).

Shops and Facilities

Regarding money and exchange facilities, there are full-service banks in Terminal 3 and Bureaux de Change and ATMs in every terminal.

You will find the best eating facilities at Beijing, with choices from tea houses, ice cream parlours, takeaways and sit-down restaurants all serving both Chinese and Western food.

For the business traveller, there are designated facilities in each terminal providing the usual services such as Wi-Fi, fax, computer and desk space. Conference facilities are also available.

To rent a car you’ll require a Chinese driving licence. That said, on the plus side, most of the rental companies rent vehicles including a driver, which gives you time to relax on your journey!

With the advent of Hertz, Avis and other well-known rental companies, this situation is likely to change and car hire will become easier once temporary licences become the norm.

About Shanghai Pudong (Airport Code PVG)

Check-In and Terminals Information

Shanghai Pudong usually operates out of the existing Terminals 1 and 2 and has been constructing add-on satellite terminals for several years. These are now fully operational, but only as a boarding facility. As such, check-in must still be done in the original terminals.

The satellite terminals are known as S1 and S2 and are reached from the main terminals by the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport), a form of metro system. This new system is expected to cope with over 80m passengers per year!

Shops and Facilities

Facilities at Shanghai Pudong are similar to those at Beijing Capital. There are good transport connections including trains, buses and taxis.

Banking facilities, including Bureau de Change and ATMs, are available in both terminals in arrivals and departures.

Food outlets consist of both local and international cuisine, while there is a choice of designer shops, gift shops and duty-free stores. Shops are all located on the 3rd floor.

If need be, you can use the pharmacies and medical facilities available in both terminals.

For communication, free Wi-Fi is available as well as docking and charging stations for mobile devices. There is also a post office in both terminals.

About Guangzhou Baiyun (Airport Code CAN)

This airport is aptly named ‘Baiyun’, which means ‘white clouds’. Close by is Mount Baiyun, often shrouded in mist and a popular tourist attraction.

Transport on Arrival/Departure

This destination is the main hub for China Southern Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines, both of which operate international flights.

Transport connections to hotels, the main city and other areas are available via Airport Express buses, taxi or rail. The only taxi rank is located just outside ‘Arrivals’.

In terms of the rail/metro, please note that you need the exact amount of money, including change, as tickets are machine operated!

Shops and Facilities

Banks, ATMs and foreign exchange facilities are available in both terminals, as is a choice of eateries and retail shops. There is also a minimart, providing convenient foods and snacks.

Toilets and showers are some of the personal care facilities on offer, along with a medical station in ‘Arrivals’ located on the first floor. Should you be travelling with children, there are also baby changing rooms in both terminals.

Should you be a smoker, there is a room provided away from other passengers.

About Chengdu Shuangliu (Airport Code CTU)

Chengdu is a great place to visit and, if you are interested in animal preservation, there is the famous Giant Panda Research Centre located there. Who doesn’t love pandas!

CTU is home to thousands of domestic and international flights and is located only 16km (10 miles) from the city centre.

Transport on Arrival/Departure

Buses, taxis, metro and a high speed ‘intercity’ line are all available from Chengdu into the city and other outlying areas. If you require any information on travel facilities, there is an information desk in both of the 2 terminals.

Shops and Facilities

In terms of money, there are ATMs and currency exchange facilities.

There are the well-known fast food outlets including McDonald’s, KFC, Subway and Starbucks. There’s also a good variety of Chinese restaurants.

Good shopping is available in both terminals and includes high-end retail, Chinese medicinal items, and international fashion brands.

For communication, there is free Wi-Fi, plus a business centre with fax and photocopying facilities.

Medical facilities are available in both terminals.

About Hong Kong (Airport Code HKG)

Many passengers use Hong Kong as a gateway into China so, as you’d expect, this airport has very sophisticated facilities and thorough transport links. It is the 8th busiest airport in the world.

Transport on Arrival/Departure

As far as transport is concerned, methods such as Airport Express buses, public buses and taxis are readily available. The taxi service is available to nearby and further-afield destinations, and is colour coded as follows:

  • Urban taxis (red) operate in most areas in Hong Kong, except parts of Tung Chung Road and roads in south Lantau.
  • New Territories taxis (green) mainly operate in the northeastern part (i.e. north of Sha Tin) and northwestern part (i.e. north of Tsuen Wan) of the New Territories.
  • Lantau taxis (blue) operate only on Lantau Island and Chek Lap Kok.

Do check the fare being charged before you enter the taxi, as they can be high.

Shops and Facilities

A comprehensive array of food and drink is readily available, and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to Chinese food.

There are some excellent Korean and Vietnamese restaurants, as well as Western fare. Burger King and McDonald’s are among the available fast-food chains, although you also have restaurants from well-known chefs such as Gordon Ramsay! Coffee shops, juice bars, sushi bars and ice cream parlours are also popular.

Shopping can be a luxury experience here, with a wealth of designer brands for both clothes and shoes. Expect to see names such as Bally, Burberry, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Cartier and Calvin Klein, amongst many others.

For personal hygiene, there are showers and well-equipped washrooms and toilets.

Full office facilities are also available, with free Wi-Fi, desks, photocopying and faxing. There is also a comfortable rest area with reclining seats.

Check-In Information

There is 1 useful feature regarding check-in to this flight hub, and it’s worth remembering. You can check in before arriving here at the Airport Express train terminal at both Hong Kong Central and Kowloon stations in plenty of time before your flight.

You can collect your boarding pass at the same time. So how about some last-minute shopping, or a meal at your favourite place, with the time you’ve saved?

About Kunming Changshui (Airport Code KMG)

This facility is located close to the city of Kunming, around 25 miles away, and it’s beautifully constructed in the shape of a pagoda.

Transport on Arrival/Departure

All sorts of transport links are available, from local buses to designated buses for certain areas of the town. Taxi and rail also facilitate your journey. Both domestic and international flights are housed in the same building.

Shops and Facilities

In terms of food, as Kunming is in the Yunnan province, there are several food outlets serving traditional food from the area. You can get fast food such as McDonald’s, KFC and Starbucks.

ATMs are plentiful, while there’s a bureau de change on the 2nd floor, handily placed close to the duty-free shops. Other shops offering great souvenirs are also present, with a beautiful jade outlet as the shining star.

Should the need arise, there is a medical emergency centre and mother and baby facilities, along with a children’s play area.

Basic office facilities are provided, such as free Wi-Fi.


Are Chinese Airports Busy?

This depends on both what time of day or year you get there and which airport you’re going to. That said, at peak times, international and domestic flight hubs can get busy, so you should always leave yourself plenty of time for the routine of check-in, baggage, immigration and security.

When flying internationally in or out of China, you should arrive around 3 hours in advance. You can take a good book to read with you or check out the ample restaurants and shops!

By virtue of the number of passengers handled, the busiest facilities are Beijing Capital International, Shanghai Pudong International, Guangzhou Baiyun International and Chengdu Shuangliu. These each handle multi-millions numbers of passengers every year!

What Is the Process of Arrival and Departure at Chinese Airports?

If you are a non-Chinese national, the process is very much like at any other international airport in the world. Normally, you will be given an arrivals card to fill out whilst on the aircraft with your personal details and where you will be staying during your trip.

You should use the address of stay as the first place you will be going to – be honest if you’re yet to book somewhere, as you may be subject to scrutiny. Fill the landing card in accurately and with care to avoid being held up by immigration and security.

What Are the Facilities Like at Chinese Airports?

Facilities such as toilets, restrooms, washrooms and lounges are pretty modern in the larger ones – tourists worldwide expect this. Many Asian and Far East tourists prefer western-style toilets and expect to find them.

You will also find interesting shops, cafes and restaurants at Beijing, Guangzhou and the larger airports in China. Wi-Fi and TV screens are also provided. Events such as the Olympics and huge trade shows have made Chinese airports far more up-to-date than years ago.

Why Does China Have So Many Airports?

The truth is the country does not have enough! It covers a landmass of 9.597 million km² and has a population of almost 1.5 billion people. It’s the most populated nation in the world.

This means that China needs more airports to meet growing passenger demand. Chinese nationals travel all over the world for business and pleasure. Equally, many overseas visitors come to China for work and tourism. So more airports will allow more landings.

I Do Not Speak Chinese – Are There English-Speaking Staff?

Most of the major airlines and general information representatives are bi-lingual; in fact, the Chinese make a point of it. You will always be able to make yourself understood and get the help that you need. In the smaller domestic ones, this may not be the case.

Is It Acceptable to Sleep at Chinese Airports?

Generally speaking, this is not encouraged at airports in China, but if you find a quiet spot and don’t impede other travellers, there is no hard and fast rule. However, you may be disturbed by cleaners who let nothing stand in their way!

Chinese Airports Regulatory Guidance

It is advisable to check out the current regulations and information at both international and domestic airports in China. We have supplied the main and up-to-date information on the major destinations, but details are always worth checking. Rules are regularly changed, so keep ahead of the game.

Remember that this is a huge country, and even domestic flights can last several hours. The longest domestic flight in China is from Harbin to Sanya, a mere 5 hours direct! You can make travel to and from China, including domestic flights, much easier by researching in advance. We hope you’ve found this information useful, and bon voyage!

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