The Real Deal: Fourteen nights' accommodations, two breakfasts, two lunches, one dinner, transportation by train, bus, boat, and cyclo (a traditional bicycle carriage), guided tours, admission fees, and the services of an English-speaking tour leader and local tour guides, for $1,299 per person—including all taxes.
When: Depart Sundays May 31, June 14, July 12, 26, Aug. 9, 23, Sept. 6, 20, Oct. 4, 18, Nov. 1, 15, 2009; March 28, April 11, 25, May 9, 23, June 6, 20, July 4, 18, Aug. 1, 15, 29, Sept. 12, 26, Oct. 10, 24, Nov. 7, 21, 2010.
The fine print: Airfare is not included. The starting rate reflects a $300 payment made in cash upon arrival. The 40-to-50-minute airport-hotel transfer in Hanoi is not included but can be booked for an additional $30 per person. A post-tour hotel-airport transfer in Hong Kong cannot be booked through G.A.P Adventures, but it can be easily arranged on your own. Bring at least $200 per person to cover meals and beverages that are not included. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $309. (Note that a single room option is not available on nights spent on the boat and the sleeper train.) The average group size is 10 people, with a maximum of 15. Travel insurance is mandatory and can be booked through G.A.P Adventures; contact the tour company for a personalized quote. Refer to code AVHK to book. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: G.A.P Adventures, 800/708-7761, gapadventures.com.
Why it's a deal: This package rate breaks down to about $93 per night and includes 12 nights' accommodations, some meals, transportation, sightseeing tours, admission fees, and the services of an English-speaking tour leader and local guides. You'll also benefit from G.A.P Adventures' relationships with local hotels, which allow the tour company to score lower nightly rates than an individual traveler would. Plus, the experienced guides will take you down the road less traveled, making this a unique experience that would be tough to replicate on one's own.
Tour highlights:Arrive in Hanoi, Vietnam, explore Halong Bay, and take an overnight cruise along the bay on a traditional junk boat. Hop on a small bamboo boat to visit Luon cave. While in Vietnam, also stop by Cat Ba and the border town of Lang Son. Cross the border to China and visit Hua Shan (entrance included), Liuzhou, Chengyang, and the Longji rice terraces (entrance included). Enjoy a full-day bike ride in Yangshuo, where the landscape is dotted with limestone hills. Depart from Hong Kong.
Lodging: One night each at the Nhat Tien Hotel in Hanoi, aboard the Halong Bay junk boat, in the Vietnamese towns of Cat Ba and Lang Son, and in the Chinese towns of Hua Shan and Liuzhou. Two nights each in Chengyang, Longji, and Yangshuo, China. Overnight sleeper train from Guilin to Hong Kong. One night in Hong Kong at the West Hotel in the Kowloon district. The participating hotels and guesthouses throughout the tour may change; you'll receive a complete list of accommodations at the group meeting on your first day.
More: Optional activities can cost as little as $1 for admission to Hoa Lao Prison (also known as Hanoi Hilton), Museum of Ethnology, Temple of Literature, Fine Arts Museum, Women's Museum, and Army Museum in Hanoi; $10 for a kayak rental for one person in Halong Bay; $4 for a tai chi lesson, $10 for a half-day traditional Chinese cooking class, $18 for a Li River cruise, and $20 for a sound-and-light show in Yangshuo; and $4 to visit Victoria Peak and $15 to experience high tea in Hong Kong. If you'd like to stay longer, pre-tour nights in Hanoi start at $20 per person for a twin or double room and at $40 for a single at the Nhat Tien Hotel. Post-tour nights at the West Hotel in Hong Kong can be booked for an additional $43 per person for a twin or double room and $85 for a single.
Before you go: Vietnam and China require U.S. travelers to obtain entry visas prior to arrival. For more information, visit the Web sites of the Vietnamese and Chinese embassies. (Visas cannot be booked through G.A.P Adventures.) U.S. citizens do not require a visa to enter Hong Kong for visits of up to 90 days. For up-to-date information about the areas, visit the official tourism Web sites for Vietnam, China, and Hong Kong.
Getting there: Just to give you an idea of how much you'd be paying for airfare, according to a recent search on Kayak, multicity flights arriving in Hanoi in mid-June and departing from Hong Kong at the end of the month start at $1,006 from Houston (American), $1,172 from L.A. (China Airlines), $1,220 from New York City (American), $1,229 from Seattle (Eva Air), $1,404 from Miami (American), and $1,454 from Chicago (American).