Young people from all over the world are flocking to Shanghai to learn the language and to catch the Chinese wave of increasing production, consumption and, hopefully, freedom. There's never been a better time to visit Shanghai or any part of China. Take an organized city tour, cruise along the Yangtze, trek through Tibet or stroll the Great Wall -- they await you as travel deals to the land of Ying and Yang abound.
Ritz Tours (tel. 626/289-1010; www.ritztours.com), offers several long vacation packages and short extension tours all over China. A 10-day "China Discovery" tour with air, accommodations and sightseeing excursions starts at $1,599 out of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and $1,749 out of New York for trips leaving July 8, 2005. An airline departure fee of $29 will be charged to the price of your ticket, as will security fees. The price goes up to $1,599 and $1,699 out of the California cities for departures through August through October the fall and winter. In November the cost of the trip drops to $1,499. Expect similar price fluctuations for the New York gateway. The trip starts in Beijing, host to the 2008 Summer Olympics and China's political center, before heading to Xian and ending up in Shanghai, China's most commercial and Western city. Accommodations are at five-star hotels including the Hyatt Regency in Xian and sightseeing highlights include the Great Wall and a Chinese Acrobatics show. In addition to air travel from the United States, intra-air travel in China, all accommodations, this trip offers three meals a day for the duration of the trip including breakfast, Chinese or Western lunches and banquet-type dinners including a dumpling feast and traditional Peking Duck. A four-day/three-night extension to Hong Kong with air from Shanghai and first-class hotel accommodations can be yours for $750.
On the long side, for one of those serious trips inside another country, Djoser (tel. 877/356-7376; www.djoserusa.com) has a 22-day China-Tibet costing $2,695 out of New York and $2,595 out of Los Angeles. Like all Djoser trips, flights, accommodations at moderate, local-style inns and small hotels, and guides are all included. Guides and local connections are the strength of a Djoser vacation. They know the ins and outs of their landscapes and provide travelers with an inside view of the country and culture they are visiting. Air taxes, admission fees, incidentals and all meals are not included, although your Djoser guide will point you in the direction of the least expensive eating establishments, drinking holes and art galleries in the vicinity. This particular trip includes a night train (an experience in any foreign country, or in the U.S. for that matter) from Guilin to Canton (Guangzhou). The tour wraps up in Hong Kong, for a few Western comforts before reentering into the United States. The Tibet section of this trip takes you way up into the world's highest altitudes. You'll never forget walking in the clouds.
Finally, why not consider having your Thanksgiving Turkey on, er, in China? Gate1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) is currently offering a small savings on its seven-day/five-night package to Beijing if you pay by check or money-order. This combo is regularly priced at $771.47, but the company is dropping that down to $749 when you opt for a non-credit card payment. Why? Because banks charge companies for credit card transactions -- if Gate 1 doesn't incur that fee, then you won't either. (Of course, you also won't have the consumer protection that goes along with a credit card purchase, so we strongly advise buying travel insurance to protect your investment.) Departures for this trip are on November 22, 2005 out of Los Angeles with accommodations at the Best Western Beijing. The $749 base price doesn't include taxes, security or visa fees that can run up to about $220 per person, but can be as low as $150.
Have you traveled to China? Did you go with a package tour or did you travel independently? Tell us about it on our China Message Boards today.