updated 3/30/2010 11:22:44 AM ET 2010-03-30T15:22:44

The Real Deal: Multicity airfare, arriving in Beijing and departing from Shanghai, and local flights from Beijing to Xi'an and from Xi'an to Hangzhou, all on Air China; three nights at the Beijing Marriott Hotel City Wall; two nights at the Xian Titan Times Hotel; one night each at the West Lake Golden Plaza Hotel Hangzhou and the Garden Hotel Suzhou; three nights at the Hotel Pullman Shanghai Skyway; 10 buffet breakfasts, eight lunches, and eight dinners; sightseeing throughout, including tours of the Summer Palace and the Great Wall, a rickshaw tour of Beijing's hutongs, a cruise on the West Lake in Hangzhou, and a visit with a local family; evening entertainment, including a performance by the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe; entrance fees; ground transportation; a one-way transfer to the airport in Shanghai aboard the 287-mph Maglev train; hotel taxes; and the services of English-speaking tour guides, from $1,599 per person — plus estimated airport taxes, fees and fuel surcharges of $330.

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When: Depart Tuesdays Nov. 2-Dec 7, 2010; add $100 for March 30; $200 for April 6-June 1, July 6-Oct. 26; $300 for Dec. 28; $400 for June 8-29; $700 for Dec. 14, 21.

Gateways: San Francisco; add $160 for L.A., Phoenix, Seattle; $200 for New York City; $280 for Chicago; $310 for Miami; $330 for Atlanta, Houston.

The fine print: The starting rate of $1,599 reflects a $300 discount. Airport taxes and fees are an additional $330 per person (based on departures from San Francisco). U.S. citizens require a visa to enter China; it can be arranged through tour operator China Spree for $150. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $430. Average group size is 10 to 16; maximum is 24. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: April 30, 2010.

Contact: 866/652/5656, chinaspree.com.

Why it's a deal: According to a recent search on Kayak, the lowest multicity fare (San Francisco to Beijing, Beijing to Xi'an, Xi'an to Hangzhou, and Shanghai to San Francisco) was $1,705, with taxes, for travel in early November (multiple carriers). For an additional $224, this China Spree package covers the international and local flights, plus 10 nights' accommodations, guided sightseeing, entertainment, entrance fees, transportation (rickshaw, boat, bus, and train), the services of English-speaking tour guides, and all taxes and fees.

More: This tour is packed with activities, so the only place you may have a bit of time to add an optional activity is in Shanghai. If your visit happens to be in May, check out Shanghai's World Expo 2010 fair for an additional $24 per person on weekdays and $27 per person on weekends. It's not possible to extend your stay because you have to travel on the dates specified to get the low group airfare on Air China.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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