Baidu and Qunar, the vertical travel search engine in China announced today that Baidu has invested US$ 306 million in Qunar to become the latter’s biggest institutional shareholder. According to the two parties, Qunar will still operate independently after the investment.

Actually, this is the largest investment Baidu ever made in the company’s history, which is also to date the largest investment in China’s online travel field.

Baidu CFO Li Xinzhe said today:”Travel has always been one of the top categories of Baidu’s information service, and the number of travelers in China has been growing rapidly every year, so the fast-growing travel market is obvious of strategic importance to us. By means of investing in Qunar, Baidu will offer users who’re planning travel with better search experience.”

Qunar went online since May 2005, with an aggregate of 27 million dollars from three rounds of funding. It’s offerings includes information about flight tickets, hotels, daily deals and so on.