updated 6/1/2009 3:32:17 PM ET 2009-06-01T19:32:17

The Real Deal: Multicity international flights on Air China (arriving in Beijing and departing from Shanghai), two local flights (from Beijing to Xi'an and from Xi'an to Shanghai) also on Air China, eight nights' accommodations, eight American buffet breakfasts and four lunches, all ground transportation and transfers, guided tours, entrance fees, the services of a professional English-speaking tour director and local guides, and hotel taxes, from $1,199 — plus airport taxes and fees of $120.

When: Nov. 25, 2009. Add $200 for Nov. 4; $300 for Oct. 21; $400 for Sept. 2, 30.

Gateways: L.A.; no additional gateways available. Connecting flights must be booked independently.

The fine print: The $300 per person savings is reflected in the starting rate. Airport taxes and fees are an additional $120 per person. Visitors must obtain an entry visa for China. Optional travel insurance is recommended and can be booked through Friendly Planet for an additional $99–$159 per person, depending on the total cost of the trip.

Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $249–$349, depending on departure date. The maximum number per group is 30–35 travelers; no minimum requirement. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: June 17, 2009; add $300 for bookings made after that date.

Contact: Friendly Planet Travel, 800/555-5765, www.friendlyplanettravel.com.

Why it's a deal: According to a recent search on Kayak, multicity flights—from L.A. to Beijing, Beijing to Xi'an, Xi'an to Shanghai, and Shanghai to L.A.—start at $1,168 with taxes (Air China). For $49 less, the Friendly Planet special covers both international and local airfare, as well as eight nights' accommodations, some meals, all transfers, guided sightseeing, entrance fees, and all taxes.

Tour highlights: A tour of the immense Forbidden City and an excursion to the Great Wall of China while in Beijing, a bus ride to the site of the 2,200-year-old terra-cotta army in Xi'an, and a ride on the high-speed maglev train and visits to the Yuyuan Garden and the Temple of the City God in Shanghai.

Lodging: Four nights at the 916-room Beijing International Hotel in the business district, one night at the 302-room Aurum International Hotel in Xi'an, and three nights at the Broadway Mansions Hotel in Shanghai.

More: A variety of optional tours is available in each city, including a Peking duck dinner followed by "The Legend of Kung Fu" show in Beijing ($53 per person), a dumpling dinner with a Tang Dynasty dance performance in Xi'an ($48 per person), and full-day city tour in Shanghai ($60 per person).

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Or, starting from $165 per person, you can book a package of three tours: a full-day tour of Beijing's hutongs (alleys) and the Temple of Heaven with lunch, the above-mentioned dumpling dinner and dance performance, and a full-day tour with lunch and a farewell dinner in Suzhou.

Another modification is to add a Hong Kong post-tour extension, starting at $599 per person, which includes airfare from Shanghai to Hong Kong on Air China, three nights at the Eaton Hotel Hong Kong or a similar property, breakfast daily, transfers, a morning tour of Hong Kong Island, and air from Hong Kong to Beijing to catch your homebound flight.

Before you go: For up-to-date travel information and tips, visit China's National Tourist Office. U.S. citizens require a passport and a visa to enter China. Friendly Planet arranges for passengers to use the China International Travel Service in L.A. for a discounted rate of $160 per person ($130 for the visa and a $30 service fee).

This is a great option for those who don't live near a Chinese consulate, because you can't get a visa for China by mail. For up-to-date visa information, visit the Chinese Embassy's Web site.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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