Getting around China is a breeze these days, English travel sites are abound in China and expats now have several decent options when it comes to this. The primary two in China are Ctrip and Elong, with Ctrip being the larger of the two. First the pros and cons of both sites;
Smaller site with much better customer service.
Several hotel options that don’t require prepayment up front in case your business or travel plans change abruptly.
American Express is frequently delisted from their payment options.
No train ticket purchase options for foreign credit cards.
Full payment information has to be added every time when it comes to checkout ( payment save doesn’t work for foreign cards.)
No English phone app, only desktop version.
Large company with hotel rates at the Chinese local rate with foreign credit card.
Easy payment to foreign hotels in Japan, Korea, India etc.. if your travels take you beyond China to the neighboring countries.
Train tickets can be purchased with a foreign credit card.
All English phone application that displays your upcoming travel and hotels.
Hotels usually require payment upfront
Poor customer service due to their large client base.
In my eyes Ctrip is by far the better of the two, but you will hear varying opinions on this one because many individuals have had a hard time with the Ctrip customer service department. I wouldn’t let that deter you though, the foreign card train ticket purchase option alone is the crowning jewel in the Ctrip arsenal, as China has probably the most advanced train system in the world, right up there with Japan. Why is China’s train system so good? Its always been my opinion that the PRC’s eminent domain authority has been the reason, they can basically draw straight lines from city to city and repossess any land they need in between to create the most efficient route, basically, no turns. You would be amazed how much faster this makes train travel when you can consistently hit 200 MPH on a straight away, getting from Shanghai to Beijing in 5 hours can sometimes be faster than a plane ride if the weather is bad or you are travelling during a period of heavy air traffic controls.
The Beijing—Shanghai leg is the most frequently traveled business route, and flights into Shanghai Hongqiao (the domestic airport and the busiest airport in China) can have frequent delays at night as the landing approach line gets backed up from a days worth of flights.
So, for the business man or first time tourist to mainland China, Ctrip is highly recommended, account set up is as easy as any US travel sites at ctrip.com.