Beat the crowds -- and bundle up -- for this winter trip to Beijing and Shanghai. China Spree (tel. 866/652-5656; www.chinaspree.com) is offering a six-night trip with airfare and tour guides from $899 per person.
Your first full day in Beijing includes a visit to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, plus a rickshaw ride through the old city's narrow alleys (hutongs). You'll also have time to see the Bird's Nest complex, built for the 2008 Olympics. Before departing Beijing, you'll take a full-day excursion to the Sacred Way of Ming Tombs and Great Wall.
In Shanghai, the trip includes a visit to the Oriental Pearl TV Tower for a 360-degree view of the city. The trip also takes you to the city's landmark promenade, the Bund. Use the free day to explore at your own pace.
Why is this a deal? Well, a multi-stop itinerary featuring departures in late November (San Francisco to Beijing; Beijing to Shanghai; and then Shanghai to San Francisco) started at $1,351 for nonstop flights.
If you booked the hotel rooms separately, three nights at the Beijing Hua Bin International Hotel with breakfast would cost $1,050, or $525 per person. Three nights at the Crowne Plaza Shanghai with breakfast would cost $540, or $270 per person.
If you booked the airfare ($1,351) and hotels ($795) separately, your total would come to $2,146 per person. The entire China Spree package, with visa fees and government taxes, comes to $1,148 per person -- expect to save at least $998 per person by booking with China Spree.
We haven't even considered the guides or the ground transportation, either. Too good to be true? The big caveat here, of course, is that you're traveling to China in the winter. Temperatures in Beijing average in the mid- to upper 30s in January and February, and in the upper 40s to low 50s in November and March. Typically, Shanghai is a little warmer, with temperatures in January and February averaging in the mid-40s, and in the upper 50s to low 60s in November and March. That's still warmer than many East Coast cities.
Trip Type: Air-inclusive; escorted
What the Quoted Price Gets You: Air China flights from San Francisco to Beijing (returning from Shanghai); a local flight from Beijing to Shanghai; six nights at four-star hotels; breakfast daily and four lunches; guided tours and entrance fees in Beijing and Shanghai; ground transportation and transfers; and airline fuel surcharges.
What Else You'll Have to Pay: Government taxes and fees ($79); China visa fee ($140); China Spree booking fee ($30)
Book By:As soon as possible to ensure availability
When: Nov. 27; Jan. 22; Feb. 12, 16, 23, 26; March 1, 4, 2012
Single Supplement: $199
Other Details: These trips are really popular, so the company will confirm your reservation based on the order in which it receives your $200 deposit (payable by credit card or personal check). These are cash discounted rates; the remainder of the balance must be paid by money order or personal check.
Other Gateways: Los Angeles (from $949), New York City-JFK (from $1,299) for the least expensive dates mentioned here
All prices are per person and, if lodging is a component of the package, based upon two people traveling together (unless otherwise noted). The prices listed are general starting rates; see "What Else You'll Have to Pay" for details about associated taxes and fees. Base-prices, taxes, and fees can vary based on point of departure and time of travel. Blackout dates may apply. Trip add-ons like sightseeing tours and meal plans may also increase the price. Check with the tour operator for additional gateways. The single supplement is the extra cost that a solo traveler would pay to book the deal.