What's not exciting about China? They're well-known exponential economic growth has spurred a rise in travel and a renewed interest in the customs, mores, culture and language of the growing world power. Tour providers are answering the call for this increased tourism with diverse tours focusing on specific cities and full-country tours giving visitors a moles-eye view of China's different regions.
China Discovery Tours (tel. 888/371-3228; www.chinadiscoverytours.com) has a 15-day 12-night tour of the country called the "Yangtze Upstream" which brings travelers to Beijing, Chongqing, Xian, Suzhou, and Shanghai with a special cruise of the Yangtze River. If you're looking to save some money, booking this particular tour (2006 Tour A) before January 31, 2006 gets you $300 dollars off the total price of the package. Starting at approximately $2,349 for March and April departures, this package includes international flights to China and domestic airfare within China, hotels, tour admissions, meals, and a professional tour guide. Highlights of this trip include three days in Beijing where you'll visit the Great Wall, the Panda Gardens of Chongqing, and tour Shanghai's oldest districts. A three-day two-night add-on to Hong Kong is available for $670. The trip departs out of Los Angeles with options to leave out of San Francisco or New York available. The trip does not include an approximate airport tax and departure fees of $282 and a visa to China for $85.
To experience other Chinese cities such as Guilin known for its craft market and water caves, China Discovery has single-city land-only tours. A three-day two-night trip to Guilin starts at $320 with travel good through March.
Beginning with departures on April 1, 2006, Gate One Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) is offering seven-day tours of Beijing starting at $1,089. This independent package includes roundtrip airfare out of New York, all accommodations at a choice of hotels, airport arrival transfers, daily breakfast and airport fuel surcharges. Accommodations are at the Best Western Beijing. Located near the Antique City, this Best Western is on the swank side with a large, elegant, hotel lobby, large suite-sized rooms, broadband Internet connection and a swimming pool. Similar trips are available to Hong Kong and Shanghai is available for similar prices. On the specials side, Gate One has a nine-day air/land inclusive "China Value Vacation" arriving in Beijing and departing from Shanghai starting at just $1,139. Sightseeing in an air-conditioned luxury bus is included as are nine meals including seven breakfasts and two lunches. All airport transfers within China and hotel accommodations for three nights in Beijing, two nights in Xian, and two nights in Shanghai are also part of the total package price.
For online specials, Ritz Tours (tel. 626/289-1010; www.ritztours.com/version2005/internetspecials.asp) has several types of deals such as Hong Kong city specials, Asia in a week specials, full country tours of China, and a Yangtze Winter Tour. Starting at $1,299, plus taxes and departure fees, there is an eleven-day trip that visits Shanghai, Wuhan, and Yichang as well as other river cities along the Yangtze. Leaving out of Los Angeles, the trip departs on January 26, February 9 and 23, and March 9, 2006. A single supplement costs $500. This package also takes travelers to the Daning River, through massive rock formations and sleek waterways. Also included are three meals per day except on certain free days when you'll be on your own. A week long Hong Kong special, under Ritz Tours' "Hot Deals" section, starts at $1,099 plus appropriate taxes for double occupancy hotel lodging. Departures are out of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Five nights hotel accommodations, a half-day city sightseeing tour, daily buffet breakfast and airport transfers in Hong Kong are also included. Departure dates are good through most of 2006 with prices varying on time of travel and hotel selection.
If you're looking to experience China from the cultural point of view of the natives and meet Chinese villagers, Adventure Center (tel. 800/228-8747; www.adventurecenter.com/Imtrav/frame_aacd.htm) has a 15-day vacation costing approximately $1,430. Promising "just about everything" China has to offer, this package puts you up at guesthouses with minority families, cycling around like most of the Chinese do, a short cruise on the Yangtze, a visit to the wall, a sampling of local cuisines in the culinary diverse Chinese regions, and tours of rice patties. Three nights of this trip will be spent on a sleeper train with other nights split between the aforementioned guest houses and simple, local, hotels. This trip departs twice in March, twice in April and four times in May with 29 departures ongoing throughout the calendar year. With Adventure Center trips, travelers can be sure to really immerse themselves in the host country. China, with its vibrant village life and overly-friendly people, is ideal for this kind of meet and greet tour.
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