updated 2/19/2009 10:36:06 AM ET 2009-02-19T15:36:06

The Real Deal: Round-trip international airfare to Shanghai with a connecting flight in Beijing on an Air China carrier, ten nights' accommodations, most meals (10 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 7 dinners), transportation by private bus, guided sightseeing tours, and the services of an English-speaking tour guide, from $959 per person — plus taxes starting at $383.

When: Depart on Nov. 5, 12, 27; add $29 for Dec. 3, 10; $300 for March 12, 19, 26, April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, May 7, 14, 21, 28, July 23, Aug. 6, 20, Sept. 3, 10, 17, 24, Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; $440 for June 4, 11, 18, 25, July 9; $700 for Dec. 24, 2009. (The early-bird discount takes $300 off listed package rates for departures Nov. 1–30 and $200 off rates for departures March 1–Oct. 31.)

Gateways: San Francisco; add $140 for L.A., Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, Seattle; $229 for New York on Dec. 3, 10 and $300–$400 for most other dates; $310 for Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Louisville, Orlando; $360 for Anchorage, Colorado, Miami, Minneapolis; additional gateways are available, prices vary by date. Those departing from New York City can choose to fly nonstop to Beijing and receive a $100 early-bird discount, or they can connect in San Francisco for an add-on charge of $360 and receive a $200–$300 early-bird discount, depending on departure date; all other add-on flights connect in San Francisco.

The fine print: The starting rate of $959 reflects a $300 early-bird discount for eligible departure dates from San Francisco as well as a $200 price reduction for paying by personal check, money order, or a cashier's check. Airport taxes and fees are an additional $383 per person from San Francisco; add $7 for New York; taxes may be even higher for other gateway cities. Recommended tipping is about $7 per passenger per day, which will cover porters, maids, drivers, and guides. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $380. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

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Book by: Your $200 deposit must arrive by Feb. 27 for departures March 1–Oct. 31 and by March 31 for departures Nov. 1–30. Mention that you're a Budget Travel reader, and you'll be able to get this discount even after the book by date.

Why it's a deal: When combined with the $200 cash payment discount, this Splendid China early-bird special offer will save you up to $500 per person. To put things in perspective, the land-only version of this package costs $899. But with this air/hotel/tour promotion you get a round-trip flight from San Francisco to Shanghai via Beijing for just $60 more. Those departing from New York City will save $100 off listed rates for eligible dates, plus the $200 cash discount.

To give you an idea of how much you'd be paying for airfare if you booked it on your own, according to a recent Kayak search, the lowest multicity fares between San Francisco, Beijing, and Shanghai, departing on Nov. 5 and returning on Nov. 16, start at $1,164 (multiple carriers). For an additional $178, the China Focus package covers airfare as well as ten nights' accommodations, most meals, transportation, guided sightseeing, services of English-speaking tour guides, and all taxes.

Lodging: Three nights at the 608-room Central View Suites Hotel in Shanghai. One night at the 174-room Culture Plaza Hotel Zhejiang in Hangzhou. Two nights at the 278-room Suyuan Hotel in Suzhou. Four nights at the 290-room Joy City Hotel in Beijing.

More: If you wish to extend your stay, you can, but expect to pay a “deviation penalty” from Air China in the amount of $250 per person. Additional nights with tax and breakfast for two start at $90 per room at both the Central View Suites in Shanghai and the Joy City Hotel in Beijing.

Before you go: For up-to-date travel information and tips, visit China's National Tourist Office. U.S. citizens require a valid passport and a visa to enter China. China Focus will take care of the entry visa for you for an additional $150 per person (the current cost of the visa charged by the Chinese Consulate plus a $20 handling and processing fee for China Focus).

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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