Located near the southern banks of the Yangtze River and along the shores of the East China Sea, Shanghai holds a central position in ancient and modern China. With over 13 million people, Shanghai is also China's largest city, considered a global shopping Mecca now rivaling Tokyo as Asia's top commercial center. Shanghai's Nanjing Road is nicknamed the country's "Number 1 Road." The food is out of this world as well offering street fare, gourmet cuisine, and traditional Chinese food from over 16 different regions. Winter is a good time to see China as airfares and package trips to Shanghai go down in price during a period considered China's low travel season.
Pacific Delight Tours (tel. 800/221-7179; www.pacificdelighttours.com) has an Internet discount price on a seven-night package to Shanghai with air on Northwest or United Airlines starting from $803 out of Los Angeles; other departure cities are available for additional prices. The "Shanghai SuperValue" package saves you $50 per couple on select departures through February 2007. Five nights' accommodations, local guides at selected sites, daily breakfast, one lunch, baggage handling, airport transfers in China, and $100,000 of flight insurance are included in the package. Accommodations for this discounted special are at the very modern and almost luxurious (seriously) Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel or the business-minded 770-room Hua Ting Hotel and Towers. Amenities at the Hua Ting Hotel and Towers include a nightclub, tennis courts, an indoor swimming pool, sauna, spa, fitness center, beauty salon, bowling alley, ping pong table and game room. Five bars and restaurants are within the hotel's walls.
Gate 1 (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) has a seven-day, air-inclusive & independent package to Shanghai starting at $899 per person. The trip includes round-trip airfare out of Los Angeles, five nights' accommodations, arrival transportation in China, daily breakfast, and airline fuel charges. Available departures included the December 12, 19 and 26, 2006; and January 2, 9, 16 & 23; and February 6, 13 & 20, 2007. While an independent trip means you do what you want when you want, Gate One does offer sightseeing excursions for additional fees. A half-day car tour to the Shanghai Museum (www.shanghaimuseum.net) costs $48 per person for two or more passengers. An acrobatics show costs $31 per person for two or more people. Accommodations at the package's lowest price point are at the four-star 370-room Ocean Hotel near the Titan Bridge business section. Pudong Park is across the Huangpo River from the hotel. Security fees and departure taxes are additional.
Book by December 7, 2007, for a five-night Shanghai combo from Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com). The trip includes airfare out of Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle starting from $969 (taxes and security fees of around $95 per person are not included in this base price). Most other gateways are just $130 extra. Travel dates available at the $969 price are good from December 12, 2006 to February 12, 2007 and between March 2 & 25, 2007. Accommodations are at the Windsor Evergreen Hotel located in the southwest section of the city near the Shanghai Botanical Gardens. For $10 more per person, guests can stay at the downtown Zhao An Hotel which is near Nanjing Road and just a five minute walk to a subway station.
China Spree (tel. 866/652-5656; www.chinaspree.com) has combination trips to China which combine visits to Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, and Tongli among other urban and agricultural attractions. A 12-day "China Delight" special includes airfare on Air China out of San Francisco or New York City, all transportation including airport transfers within China, sightseeing tours and cultural events, 24 meals including 10 American breakfasts, 7 Chinese dinners and lunches, an full-time tour guide, local guides in each locale, and all baggage handling. The trip starts in Beijing, visits Suzhou otherwise known as the Venice of the East because of its canals and waterways, the silk and tea region of Hangzhou, and finishes up with three days of sightseeing in Shanghai. Price of the package comes to a cash discount of $999 or a credit card payment of $1,199 for departures until March 8, 2007. Air taxes and fees come to approximately $232 plus a one-time Chinese visa handling fee of $70. In Beijing and the surrounding area you'll visit many historical sites including the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.
In addition to the clothing and electronic stores and incredible nightly light shows on Nanjing Road, some must-see Shanghai sites include the Bund, a European-influenced harbor area with Greek revival architecture paying homage to the British influence over China's trade in the 1930s; the Temple of the Jade Buddha giving a glimpse into the power of Buddhism in old and new China; and the Oriental Pearl Television Tower, which gives an eye to the space age offering views of the city and surrounding countryside.
For some of the best Dim Sum in Shanghai, try the Crystal Jade (tel. +86 (0) 21 6385 8752) in the Xintiandi (tel. +86 (0) 21 6311 2288; www.xintiandi.com) section of the city where the Chinese government decided to maintain historical architecture rather than tear it down for modern looks. Now, Xintiandi is a popular tourist destination with boutiques and restaurants tucked into the small side streets and two-story Chinese dwellings. Xintiandi makes a nice counterpoint to the modern skyscrapers and glitzy new bars attracting young Chinese business people and tourists from the world over.
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