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This week's Smart Deal sends you halfway around the world to Beijing, courtesy of China Spree (tel. 866/652-5656; www.chinaspree.com). The eight-day trip includes your airfare and five nights' hotel for a starting price of $555.

Beijing, the bustling capital, is a study in contrasts between the country's traditions and its push toward progress and development. A shopper's paradise, Beijing offers respite at its teahouses and around its temples, parks, and lakes. And who could forget trekking along the Great Wall? All of this can be done at a price that's right.

You'll stay at the newly built four-star Beijing Huabin International Hotel, a few minutes from Tiananmen Square and the well-known Wangfujing shopping district. Daytime activities include optional tours to the major attractions, but you are certainly free to explore on your own. China Spree's local guide greets you at the hotel and is available for assistance throughout your stay.

Trip Type: Air-inclusive, independent

What the Quoted Price Gets You: Flights from San Francisco to Beijing, transfers, five nights at the Beijing Huabin International Hotel, and breakfast daily.

What Else You'll Have to Pay: Taxes, fees, and airline fuel surcharges will add $229 for trips leaving from San Francisco. Add $150 for a visa.

When: A wide range of departures November 1, 2010-March 2, 2011

Book By: As soon as possible to ensure availability.

Other Details: This price reflects a $200 cash discount. For trips leaving from New York, add $300 for flights out of JFK, and add $307 for taxes, fees, and airline fuel surcharges. The single supplement is priced at $200 for most dates and $220 for the March 2011 departures.

There are also optional tours of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (add $50 per person, with lunch). Optional tours of the Olympic facilities, including the fascinating Bird's Nest and Water Cube, are also $50 per person and include lunch.

All prices are per person and, if lodging is a component of the package, based upon two people traveling together (unless otherwise noted). The prices listed are general starting rates; see "What Else You'll Have to Pay" for details about associated taxes and fees. Base-prices, taxes and fees can vary based on point of departure and time of travel. Trip add-ons like sightseeing tours and meal plans may also increase the price. Check with the tour operator for additional gateways.