Despite Chinas 21st century emergence as a major economic power, a lot of the country still remains hidden behind closed doors . . . but not for long. On September 23, Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific launched brand new China Experience tours designed by local experts to provide unparalleled VIP access to normally off-limits attractions. Starting at $3,000 a pop, these all-inclusive, ultra-exclusive expeditions offer behind-the-scenes peaks of protected heritage sites scattered throughout Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai like The Forbidden Citys Imperial Palace tea room, Xians national treasure vault, and Pit #5 of the famous Terracotta Warrior Museum (normally only open to archeologists). In addition to dining with locals in a traditional courtyard (hutong) and taking private tai-chi lessons, visitors can explore the better-known Great Wall and Tiananmen Square (pictured).
With six packages to choose from, theres a trip for every type of traveler including a volunteer option and two brief stints (in either Beijing or Shanghai) inclusive of business class airfare and 3 sweet nights slumber at your pick of a Grand Hyatt or Ritz. An upcoming World Expo tour is in the works for May 2010, when Shanghai will host Chinas first worlds fair expected to draw the largest number of visitors in the events 150-plus-year history.
U.S. flights depart from LAX/JFK/SFO (the price does not include transportation to these airports from other cities). To book a China Experience tour, call 877-324-4623 or visit www.cathaypacific.com/us/chinaexperience.