The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, eight nights' accommodations, a seven-day rail pass, bus transport, several guided tours, and airport transfers, from $2,279 per person—plus taxes and surcharges of about $380.
When: Departures March 18, 20, 21, 25, 27, 28; April 1, 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18, 22, 24; add $50 for April 25, 29, May 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15; $150 for May 16, 20, 22, 23, 27, 29, 30, June 3, 5, July 22, 24, 25, 29, 31; Aug., 5, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22; $200 for June 6, 10, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 24, 26, 27; July 1, 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18.
Gateways: L.A.; add $220 for Chicago, New York City.
The fine print: Hotel taxes included. Airport taxes and fuel surcharges are roughly an additional $380 per person. Airport transfers included. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is approximately $480. Japan does not require visas for U.S. citizens. Read before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: At least two weeks in advance of departure; by availability.
Contact: NTA America, 800/682-7872, .
Why it's a deal: In comparison, according to a recent Kayak search, the lowest round-trip fare between L.A. and Tokyo, departing on April 8, 2008, and returning on April 17, is $699 (Northwest). For an additional $1,660, or about $207 a day, NTA America provides accommodations and a rail pass for seven days—plus guided tours and airport transfers. (We're factoring out fuel surcharges of about $300, which are additional an additional fee whether you book your trip separately or as a package.) Given the language difference, the package offers the convenience of arranging for a complete itinerary for you in advance, minimizing the chance that you'll end up "Lost in Translation".
Trip details: The package includes a round-trip fare on a major carrier, most likely United or American, to Tokyo's Narita airport. It also covers eight nights' accommodations divided between Le Meriden Pacific Tokyo (three nights), New Miyako Hotel in Kyoto (three nights), and Hotel Granvia Hiroshima (two nights). A seven-day rail pass will help you navigate the country.
Your guided tours will include a bus tour of Tokyo, with stops at the Imperial Palace Gardens and the Asakusa Kannon Temple. After a bullet-train ride, you'll tour Hiroshima (including its Peace Park) and the nearby island Miyajima, famous for its "floating" torri, or gate. You'll then move on to Nara, Japan's one-time capital and one of its oldest cities, where you'll take a guided tour of several Buddhist shrines. Moving on to Kyoto, you'll visit several key shrines, castles, and handicraft centers. You'll also have free time. You'll return to the capital by bullet train, spend a free day in Tokyo, and then return to the U.S.