We bought ours from a US based rep of China Southern Airlines. It was nice being able to call someone and email. Phil is American born, yet fluent in Chinese, so he was very helpful.
China Southern Airlines
Los Angeles Office
Address: 6300 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1510
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Tel:323-653-8088 x 830
I would book based on price/schedule, the best prices are around 3 weeks before departure date.
You cannot rely on prices always dropping closer to the travel date, nowadays. Best to monitor fares; sometimes you can get an 'earlybird' discount up to 3 months in advance which will not be beaten.
If you use ctrip daily price graphs, you can pretty much see if there is a "last-minute" effect of air prices in the week to 10 days before departure. Most routes there still is. The totally tourist routes are price fixed, such as to Lijiang, Zhangjiajie and Jiuzhaigou. Very high almost all the time, depending on the time of day.
There are some early-bird fares which are bargains, and some which are phony. Gotta check.
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