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In search of tourists, China is launching remarkable deals

August 17, 2003|Arthur Frommer | Special to The Times

On June 24, Beijing was removed from the SARS warning list of the World Health Organization. With that announcement, China tourism authorities launched a long-planned effort to revive the industry.

The result is an extraordinary travel opportunity, with some of the lowest prices ever offered. Among the specials:

Champion Tours, (800) 868-7658,, will offer China Discovery beginning Sept. 12. The six-night package, $799 per adult ($639 for kids younger than 12, if staying in parents' room), includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco. The all-inclusive trip will visit three Chinese cities: Beijing (three nights, with tours of the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs), Wuxi (one night) and Shanghai (two nights, with sightseeing tours), including a deluxe hotel in each city and three meals a day.

Departures are on most Fridays from September through November and are also offered, for $100 more, on Dec. 19 and 26. The single-room supplement is $200.

For a slightly longer tour, you might want to try China Focus, (800) 868-7244, The company has reduced the price of its 10-night tour of six Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Wuxi, Ji'nan, Qufu and Tai'an) to $999 in November and the first half of December ($1,199 in October), including all meals and round-trip airfare from San Francisco; add $80 from Los Angeles. Single supplement is $220 to $320. Many column readers have commented favorably about the company's six-city program.

For a trip to Beijing, the top new value is an air-and-land package priced at $529 per person, based on two people traveling together. This one is from, which flies you to the Chinese capital and puts you up at a Best Western hotel for five nights. The $529 price, good from November until March, includes Tuesday departures from LAX (people leaving from dozens of other gateways pay a surcharge from $125 to $250). Also continuing until March is a trip to Beijing and Xian (to view the terra-cotta warriors) for $949. See details at the Web site.

And finally, there's a $1,299 tour that goes to Beijing and Shanghai and sandwiches in a four-night cruise of the Yangtze River aboard a deluxe Victoria Cruises vessel, with all meals aboard included.

The program, operated by Ritz Tours,, includes airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco and is available through October. Contrary to a popular misconception, cruises of the Yangtze are still operating. Call (626) 289-7777.

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