September Deal of the Month: China
The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare to Beijing, Changsha, Dalian, Guilin, Hangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing, Ningbo, Qingdao, Sanya, Shanghai, Shenyang, Wuhan, Xiamen, or Xian, from $1,046 per person—plus at least $77 in taxes.
When: Through Nov. 30, 2008.
Gateways: L.A., New York City, and San Francisco. Note that fares for NYC departures were fluctuating as of press time; some on Cathay's site were as much as $214 higher than starting rate of $1,046.
The fine print: Does not include taxes (between $77 and $108 per person), depending on departure city and destination. No minimum stay required; maximum stay is 30 days. The lowest fares are based on Monday through Thursday departures; there is a $54 surcharge for weekend travel. This deal can only be booked online. Price includes round-trip airfare and fuel surcharges of $297. U.S. citizens will need a valid passport and a visa to enter China. See our visa advice here. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: Sept. 30, 2008.
Contact: Cathay Pacific Airways, cathayusa.com.
Why it's a deal: Before booking this promotional airfare, it's worth pricing out fares on sites like Kayak to be sure that the Cathay fare is the best available one for your specific dates and departure city. The base round-trip airfare for September's Deal of the Month is $1,046 per person between L.A. and Beijing. Using Kayak, we found a $1,058 flight on Air Canada for the same route in early October. We also priced out a few other routes using Kayak, for round-trip flights in early October: New York City to Shanghai for $977 (Delta), San Francisco to Hangzhou for $1,152 (Air China), and New York City to Nanjing for $1,564 (United). Using Cathay Pacific's booking calculator, we found many of its base prices to be competitive with those we found on Kayak; in the case of NYC and Nanjing, the Cathay fare was almost $300 cheaper than the lowest one on Kayak. When comparing fares, consider the quality of the airlines and whether the routes are nonstop. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific is an award-winning airline with unusually comfortable economy-class seating and personal TVs; some travelers may be willing to pay a little extra, if necessary, to fly Cathay.
Trip details: Your seat will be in economy class on the flights to and from China. Luckily, Cathay Pacific has been rolling out newly designed cabins with seats that have better spine support and that lean back without intruding on the person behind them. You'll also eat fairly well (a nice surprise)—the planes have rice cookers, toasters, and skillets on board so the staff can better serve you.
Pass the time during the long flight by making use of your personal TV—watch Hollywood movies and TV shows, or play games. You can also choose from 22 music stations in a variety of languages, including Cantonese, Mandarin, and Thai.
Fall weather in China is typically mild; expect temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
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The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare to Hong Kong, plus two one-way flights within Asia, for $1,499 per person—plus up to $196 in taxes.
When: Through Nov. 8, 2008.
Gateways: L.A., New York City, and San Francisco; add $100 for Las Vegas, San Diego; add $200 for Denver; add $360 for Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, D.C., Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, St. Louis, Tampa.
The fine print: Does not include taxes and fees of up to $196 per person. No minimum stay required; maximum stay is 21 days. Add a $100 surcharge for travel Thursday through Sunday. A $50 surcharge applies for travel within seven to 30 days of booking. You can only book this pass through a travel agent; see instructions here. U.S. citizens will need a valid passport for travel and may need visas depending on the destinations visited. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: Cathay Pacific Airways, cathayusa.com.
Why it's a deal: The All Asia Pass gives travelers the flexibility to hop around cities in Asia—without breaking the bank. When you pay the $1,499 rate, you get round-trip airfare to Hong Kong. The bonus is that in a three-week span, you can pick and choose flights to two other destinations, which are included in that price. For example, you can plan an itinerary that looks like this: L.A. to Phuket, Thailand, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Hong Kong and then back to L.A. We priced this same multicity route on Kayak for departures in early October and found a $2,681 price tag on multiple airlines (Japan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines being two of them). Taxes included, you'd save $986 by booking the All Asia Pass in this instance.
Trip details: The $1,499 per-person price covers round-trip airfare to Hong Kong and two one-way flights; you can choose from 24 "basic" destinations. Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Seoul, Jakarta, Cebu, and Ho Chi Minh City are among the options. Note that Dragon Air, Cathay's sister airline, is used for some of these destinations. Add $300 for a third basic destination, or $600 for third and fourth basic destinations within the 21-day travel period.
Don't see your dream city? There are 26 other locations —such as Mumbai, Kathmandu, Shanghai—that you can select for $300 per person per location.
For some inspiration and advice, browse stories on our our Asia destinations page.
Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.