GREAT CHINA ES­CAPES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - China Holidays -

CHINA spe­cial­ist Wendy Wu Tours is of­fer­ing sav­ings of $500 a per­son on its Dreams of Na­ture pack­age, a 26-day in­clu­sive tour that in­cludes the her­itage-listed Nine Vil­lages Val­ley, Chengdu, home of China’s pan­das, and the spec­tac­u­lar scenery of Mt Huang, Zhangji­aje, Guilin and Yang­shou. Now from $4580 ex Aus­tralia for a May 10 de­par­ture, with taxes, all meals, ac­com­mo­da­tion, trans­port, tours, en­trance and visa fees. Wendy Wu Tours also has a 28-day China High­lights pack­age that in­cludes Bei­jing, Shang­hai, a cruise on the Li River and visit to the ter­ra­cotta war­riors at Xian. From $4880 ex Aus­tralia. More: 1300 727 998; www.wendy­wu­tours.com.au. Heav­enly visit: He­len Wong’s Tours has a seven-day Bei­jing pack­age that in­cor­po­rates the Sum­mer Palace, Tem­ple of Heaven, the Great Wall and a kung fu per­for­mance. From $1699 a per­son plus taxes, in­clud­ing most meals, sight­see­ing and en­trance fees, guide and visa; flights ex­tra. More: 1300 788 328; www.he­len­wongs­tours.com. Back to ba­sics: Flight Cen­tre’s 12-day China Ba­sics tour from Shang­hai to Bei­jing is from $765 a per­son ($965 dur­ing the Olympics, July 15 to Septem­ber 15) plus a lo­cal pay­ment of $US300 ($330). In­cludes trans­port, sight­see­ing and tour guide; flights ex­tra. More: 131 600; www.flight­cen­tre.com.au. On the road: Har­vey World Travel has a range max­i­mum of 15 par­tic­i­pants; they in­clude a group leader, trans­port, some meals and trans­fers. Flights and taxes are ex­tra. Valid for sale un­til June 30. More: 132 757; www.har­vey­world. com.au. Bal­anc­ing act: A night at the opera and a spec­tac­u­lar ac­ro­batic show are two Bei­jing op­tions from Ex­plore Hol­i­days’ pro­grams in the Chi­nese cap­i­tal. A four-hour night at the opera costs from $59 a per­son. A three-hour visit to the Pek­ing Ac­ro­batic Show is the same price. Ex­plore also of­fers a five-night, flight­in­clu­sive pack­age from Aus­tralia fly­ing Cathay Pa­cific to Bei­jing. From $1206 plus taxes from $267 ex Syd­ney; $1206 plus $249 taxes ex Melbourne; $1381 plus $276 taxes ex Bris­bane; $1381 plus $284 taxes ex Ade­laide; $1206 plus $251 taxes ex Perth. Bris­bane and Ade­laide flights in­clude a night in Hong Kong. For sale to April 30 for travel of Silk Road trips that in­clude China as well as Sa­markand, Khiva, Kazak­stan, Turk­menistan and Turkey. Its 21-day Silk Road Ad­ven­ture is from $3650 a per­son and also in­cludes Uzbek­istan, Kyr­gyzs­tan and Kazak­stan. The 28-day Silk Road Odyssey is from $5350 a per­son and also cov­ers Kyr­gyzs­tan, Kazak­stan, Uzbek­istan and Rus­sia. The 31-day Silk Road Rail­way is from $5350 and vis­its Kazak­stan, Uzbek­istan, Turk­menistan, Iran and Turkey as well as China. All are small-group jour­neys with a Oc­to­ber 13 to Novem­ber 13. More: www.ex­plore­hol­i­days.com.au. On the wa­ter: Tauck World Dis­cov­ery has a 15-night China, Yangtze River and Hong Kong tour with sev­eral de­par­tures un­til Novem­ber. It in­cludes a cruise on Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Har­bour aboard a tra­di­tional Chi­nese sam­pan, tea with a fam­ily in Bei­jing, a tour of the cap­i­tal’s back streets by tr­ishaw, a visit to the ter­ra­cotta war­riors at Xian and a three-night cruise on the Yangtze River pass­ing through the Three Gorges. From $US6995 a per­son, in­clud­ing most meals, trans­fers and on-tour flights; air travel from Aus­tralia not in­cluded. More: (02) 8296 7071; www.trav­elthe­world.com.au. Call of the wild: Wildlife lovers should con­sider a vol­un­teer scheme of­fered by STA Travel. Two-week place­ments are avail­able at a re­mote con­ser­va­tion park at the foot of the Qin­gling moun­tains, about two hours from Xian. Vol­un­teers help look af­ter the nine gi­ant pan­das at present be­ing cared for along with other an­i­mals in­dige­nous to China, such as the golden mon­key, crested ibis and the sheep-like Takin. Vol­un­teers will also help park staff de­velop their con­ver­sa­tional English and teach ba­sic English phrases and nurs­ery rhymes at the lo­cal school. From $2945 a per­son; the pack­age in­cludes a 40-hour on­line course on teach­ing English as a for­eign lan­guage, ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion, all meals and air­port pick- up; flights ex­tra. Vol­un­teers can ex­tend their stay for $740 a week. Pro­grams run twice monthly, ex­cept De­cem­ber. More: 134 782; www.sta­travel.com.au. Dis­ney whirl: Creative Hol­i­days has rooms at the five-star Hong Kong Dis­ney­land Ho­tel from $155 a per­son. As a bonus, guests re­ceive two days en­try to Dis­ney­land for the price of one (tick­ets from $39 for chil­dren, $53 for adults). Creative also has rooms at the five-star Wynn Ma­cau from $148 a per­son (Sun­day to Thurs­day) and $221 (Fri­day, Satur­day and pub­lic hol­i­days). Stay two nights or more to re­ceive a free up­grade. More: www.cre­ative­hol­i­days.com. Gorge your­self: Qan­tas Hol­i­days of­fers a four-day Yangtze cruise pass­ing through the Three Gorges dam site, which will cre­ate the world’s largest reser­voir. From $779 a per­son with most meals. On the ac­com­mo­da­tion front, it has rooms at the Re­nais­sance Yangtze, Shang­hai, from $99 a per­son with break­fast, late check­out and a free night for stays of more than four nights. Rooms at the Hy­att Re­gency, Xian — the area is home to the ter­ra­cotta war­riors — are from $88 a per­son. More: 131 415; www.qan­tas.com.au/hol­i­days. Fly a kite: Con­front the ter­ra­cotta war­riors, fly a kite in Tianan­men Square, walk the Great Wall, at­tend a cook­ing class, cruise down the Li River. It’s all in a 10-day fam­ily pack­age from Es­cape Travel and Pere­grine Ad­ven­tures. From $2005 an adult, $1890 a child, in­clud­ing trans­fers, trans­port, lo­cal flight, en­trance fees and some meals. Other high­lights in­clude the For­bid­den City in Bei­jing, cy­cling around rice pad­dies in Yang­shuo and the sights of Hong Kong, where the trip ends. Air fares to Bei­jing are ex­tra. More: 1300 799 783; www.es­cape­travel.com.au. Dark side: Take a front-row seat for the so­lar eclipse on Au­gust 1 with the Imag­i­na­tive Trav­eller’s 11-day tour de­part­ing Bei­jing on July 25. In­cludes the Great Wall, the ter­ra­cotta war­riors and a visit to Bei­jing’s An­cient Ob­ser­va­tory and the Tem­ple of the Azure Clouds. The eclipse, ex­pected to last for two min­utes, will be viewed at Ji­ayuguan. From $3199 a per­son plus a lo­cal pay­ment of $US265; flights ex­tra. More: 1300 135 088; www.imag­i­na­tive-trav­eller.com.au. Bei­jing plus: Aber­crom­bie & Kent’s 12-day High­lights of China pack­age in­cludes three nights in Bei­jing, two in Xian, a three-night Yangtze cruise pass­ing through the Three Gorges and three nights in Shang­hai. From $7140 a per­son; flights ex­tra. More: 1300 851 800; www.aber­crom­biekent.com.au. Barry Oliver More China deals: ■ www.theaus­tralian.com.au/travel/dd

Crea­ture com­fort: Vol­un­teer for a hol­i­day car­ing for gi­ant pan­das

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