SmarTours.com (tel. 800/337-7773.com; www.smartours.com) has a truly smart deal available for travelers: 10 days in Shanghai and Beijing from $899 (mandatory taxes and fees bump the price up by about $250). The price reflects a savings of $800 per couple if the trip is booked by July 2, and is valid for travel November 2008 through April 2009, albeit well after the Olympics are over. Round-trip and intra-China airfare between Shanghai and Beijing is included, along with accommodations at first-class hotels, daily buffet breakfasts and the services of an English-speaking tour host. Although the package price is calculated based on San Francisco departures, you can leave from New York for an additional $100. The lowest price reflects the December 5, 2008, and January 9 and February 6, 2009 departures. However, the price does not jump too much -- to $999 -- for the November 14, 21 and December 27 tours, and for next year's February 13 and March 13 tours.
The first and last days are spent traveling. You'll arrive on day two in Beijing and spend several days there, starting off at the Capital Hotel, which is located close to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The nice part of this trip is that is offers a combination of independent exploration and the opportunity for organized tours and excursions, such as to the Great Wall; the excursions aren't included in the price of the tour, however. After Beijing you'll head to Shanghai, the largest city in the country and one that continues to grow. The two nights and three days are at your leisure to take in its temples, markets, and an optional full-day city tour.
Reservations require a $300 nonrefundable deposit and the full payment is due 75 days before the departure. Airport and departure taxes and fees of $175 are not included in the advertised sale price.
Talk with other Frommers.com readers on our China Message Boards.