China has been on my travel bucket list for decades. When a Travelzoo offer for a 12-day trip that hit all the highlights for me including the Great Wall, terra-cotta warriors, and the Yangtze River, I was seriously interested.
The only problem was it was weeks after returning from Italy and my husband was not ready to book travel anywhere with long flights. I asked my brother if he had any interest in visiting China and he was onboard. We booked the offer on Fourth of July weekend in 2015 and the trip was departing Los Angeles in November 2016. Just 16 months away!
The travel agency offering the deal was Sinorama Holidays and we did research them online before purchase. I also felt good that the agency was in Canada which I know is highly regulated and wouldn’t tolerate fly by night agencies.
Dream of China Tour
The name of the itinerary we selected was Dream of China. Sinorama has many different tour options so it’s important to review the details of each before booking. Since this was a Travelzoo deal, we had to pay in full and it was non-refundable. We could buy our vouchers separately and reference each other in the follow-up booking form.
The $1,599 per person price tag included:
- All flights (to/from LAX and two flights within the country)
- 6 nights hotel
- All meals during tour
- Four night Yangtze River cruise
- All tours except two optional during cruise
We paid $40 more per person to have our travel documents mailed to us. Sinorama does assist Canadians with getting their travel visa but as Americans, we had to get that done on our own.
About 4 1/2 months before the trip we received an email from Sinorama with the “invitation” needed to apply for our visas and documents on how to fill out the form. Chinese visas are obtained only by physically visiting the closest embassy to your home. For me that was Los Angeles and for my brother it was Chicago.
Since these locations weren’t convenient for either of us, we both used a service to handle taking the passport to the embassy and picking it up. I picked Passport Visas Express and had a very good experience.
You can get a one-time visit visa for the same price as a multiple visit visa good for 10 years. Pick the latter as you never know when another opportunity to visit China will arise. I had my visa back within 10 days and now all I had to do was wait for departure day. Oh, and pack!