The perception used to be that Hong Kong and Southeast Asia were as far away and as costly as a trip to Mars. While it doesn't look as if space travel is getting any easy or more affordable, Hong Kong has come way down in price as package deals and short tours of China's citadel of capitalism become more accessible. Hong Kong has always been a tourist Mecca. With some of the world's best shopping (think jewelry, custom-made shirts and antiques), eating (think Peking Duck and dim sum), and sightseeing (think architectural wonders, nearby Macau or the stunning Victoria Harbour), Hong Kong is one of the world's most enchanting vacations for city-lovers the world over.

Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; has some air/land and sightseeing specials to Hong Kong for below $1,000 in total cost. A five-night/seven-day independent sightseeing trip to Hong Kong has a regular starting price of $884.77 with a cash discount price of twenty-five dollars less to come to $859 if you travel from May 21 to 31, 2005. The price goes slightly up from $889 if you pay cash for travel from June 1 to 21, 2005. Included in the price of the tip is round-trip airfare out of Los Angeles, daily breakfast, and five nights accommodations at the hotel of your choice including three star spots such as the BP International House in Kowloon or the four-star Kimberly on the Hong Kong side of the bay. (Prices go slightly up for the four-star locations.) Sightseeing excursions will run you around $36 per person and sights include the many islands surrounding Hong Kong and the New Territories on the outskirts of the city bordering mainland China.

For an even quicker hit of Hong Kong, Asian Affair Holidays (tel. 800/742-3133; has a special four-night trip available for a full year from now until March 31, 2006 starting at $920 that includes air travel on Singapore Airlines, accommodations, daily breakfast, and a half-day tour of Hong Kong Island with its city side, mid-level apartment houses, Victoria Peak and the other side filled with green vegetation, beaches, harbors, and large houses in the built in the realm of British colonialism and Asian heritage. The hotel selected for this trip is Harbour Plaza Metropolis Hotel, a beautiful four-star property with a swimming pool looking out onto the incredible Hong Kong Bay.

While it may be a tourist stop, the Jumbo Restaurant (, afloat on Aberdeen Bay, has some of the best seafood on the island. The giant fish tank in the restaurant's lobby is filled with fish. The size and location of the restaurant in itself is worth the stop as you'll see locals living on houseboats in a virtual neighborhood on the sea.

Pacific Delights (tel. 800/221-7179; has a seven-day "Hong Kong SuperValue" trip starting at $869 for an air/hotel package or just $319 for a land-only price. The package offers several hotels to choose from including the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers which is in walking distance to Victoria Harbour and the Star Ferry, the line of boats that have been continuously crossing Hong Kong Harbour for over one hundred years. Pacific Delights also has several day sightseeing tours to choose from including a horse racing tour of Hong Kong's infamous Happy Valley Racetrack and the island of Macau, a Portuguese colonized island accessible by high-speed ferry that is now a gambling paradise with Asian-style casinos. See the full list of optional Pacific Delight day tours at this link.

Prices for these trips do not include government imposed security taxes, departure fees and any air or September 11 taxes.

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