In the past 20 years, China has grown from a specialty destination for just the most experienced and affluent travelers to a mainstream leisure option. The exploding growth of tourism to that country has led to a wider growth in travel to Asia in general, with China the main magnet.
Today, most mainstream tour operators feel they have to offer their return customers something more for Asia. As China has moved more into the mainstream, specialty operators continue to dig deeper into the country for those who want to have a more immersive experience. It’s such a huge country, with so much history, culture and geography, that the profusion of packages will no doubt continue for a long time.
Following is a listing of operators that offer tours and packages in Asia and the South Pacific.
Abercrombie & Kent: Founded in the 1960s as a safari operator in Kenya, today a provider of luxury and adventure travel worldwide, with a broad selection of programs for Asia and the South Pacific.
800-554-7016 | www.abercrombiekent.com
Absolute Travel: Formerly Absolute Asia, now offers custom luxury travel experiences to exotic destinations worldwide, including South America, Africa and Asia.
800-736-8187 | www.absoluteasia.com
Asian Pacific Adventures: Founded in 1986 by a photographer and art educator; a pioneer in cultural travel to remote regions of Asia.
800-825-1680 | www.asianpacificadventures.com
Asia Transpacific Journeys: Personalized itineraries to Asia, venturing into the more remote and less often visited regions.
800-642-2742 | www.asiatranspacific.com
Australian Pacific Touring: An 80-year-old business offering travel to Australia and New Zealand, branching into Europe and the Americas, as well as Asia and the South Pacific.
800-290-8687 | www.aptouring.com.au
Backroads: Hiking, walking, biking and multi-sport adventures worldwide, including Asia.
800-462-2848 | www.backroads.com
Big Five Tours and Expeditions: Luxury tours and adventure expeditions in Latin America and Asia, including the most popular destinations of east and southeast Asia as well as Australia.
800-244-3483 | www.bigfive.com
Brendan Vacations: Escorted tours as well as independent packages worldwide, including China, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, as well as programs for Australia and New Zealand.
800-421-8446 | www.brendanvacations.com
Butterfield & Robinson: Tours by bike, foot or boat in many destinations, including Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam.
866-551-9090 | www.butterfield.com
Champion Holidays: Tours to China, with some venturing beyond to other Asia destinations, including Japan, Vietnam and Cambodia.
800-868-7658 | www.china-discovery.com
Classic Vacations: A specialist in luxury packages over a much broader range, including such South Pacific destinations as Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and Fiji.
800-635-1333 | www.classicvacations.com
Contiki Vacations: A specialist in travel for 18- to 35-year-olds to destinations around the world, including China, Indochina, New Zealand and Australia.
866-266-8454 | www.contiki.com
Continental Airlines Vacations: The airline’s vacation packager, operated by MLT Vacations; packages for Beijing, Guilin, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Xian in China, plus Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan.
800-829-7777 | www.covacations.com
Country Walkers: Walking tours to international destinations, including many in Asia and the South Pacific, such as China, Burma, India, Laos, Nepal, Cambodia, Bhutan, Australia and New Zealand.
800-464-9255 | www.countrywalkers.com
Delta Vacations: The vacation packaging brand for the airline, operated by MLT Vacations; packages for Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo.
800-800-1504 | www.deltavacations.com
Elite Travel Collection by Isramworld: Luxury travel worldwide, including China, India and Vietnam.
888-477-2649 | www.elitetravelcollection.com
Gap Adventures: Sustainable small-group adventure travel in 100 countries, including many out-of-the-way Asia destinations, such as the Himalayas, Tibet and Kathmandu.
888-800-4100 | www.gapadventures.com
General Tours World Traveler: High-end travel to exotic destinations on all continents.
800-221-2216 | www.generaltours.com
Geographic Expeditions: A pioneer of luxurious tours to exotic destinations around the world, including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
800-777-8183 | www.geoex.com
Globus: One of the world’s largest mainstream tour operators makes some Asian destinations, such as China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, available through its network.
866-755-8581 | www.globusjourneys.com
Goway Travel: Offers a comprehensive selection of Asia destinations, from the big ones, such as China, to the less-frequented Sri Lanka, Tibet and Nepal.
800-557-2841 | www.goway.com
Group IST: Cultural, religious and specialty tours worldwide under several brands. The Cultural Journeys division offers some programs to Asia destinations, such as Japan.
800-833-2111 | www.groupist.com
Gutsy Women Travel: Women-only tours around the world, including China, India, Australia and New Zealand.
866-464-8879 | www.gutsywomentravel.com
International Expeditions: Programs that enhance the appreciation of the natural and cultural wonders of the world, including such Asia/Pacific destinations as India, Borneo, Laos, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea.
800-234-9620 | www.ietravel.com
Intrepid Travel: Adventure travel around the world, including many Asia destinations, such as India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Bali, Cambodia, Sumatra, Vietnam, Laos, Japan and the Philippines.
800-970-7299 | www.intrepidtravel.com
Islands in the Sun: A specialist in South Pacific vacations.
888-828-6877 | www.islandsinthesun.com
Lindblad Expeditions: Ship-based expeditions emphasizing nature and environment, co-branded with National Geographic, to destinations worldwide, including some in Southeast Asia.
800-397-3348 | www.expeditions.com
Mountain Travel Sobek: Adventure travel to international destinations, including many remote Asia areas in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Tibet.
888-831-7526 | www.mtsobek.com
Nature Expeditions International: Soft-adventure and cultural tours to 25 countries, incorporating excursions, meaningful cultural experiences, a choice of lecture topics, and first-class or deluxe accommodations. Asia destinations include China, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
800-869-0639 | www.naturexp.com
Orient Flexipax: The Asia division of IsramWorld, offering programs for China, India, Nepal and Indochina.
800-223-7460 | www.orientflexipax.com
Spafari: Fitness adventures, spiritual journeys and wildlife ecotours, including mountain hiking, fitness, yoga, meditation, massage, weight loss, spa cuisine, upscale accommodations, cultural explorations, and rejuvenation of the mind, body and spirit. Though not known for Asia, Spafari has programs in India, Bhutan, Bali and other Asia destinations.
800-488-8747 | www.spafari.com
Tauck World Discovery: Luxury travel worldwide, including small-ship cruising, cultural travel and family travel.
800-788-7885 | www.tauck.com
Trafalgar Tours: One of the largest, most mainstream operators in the world, offering tours to Australia, New Zealand, China and Vietnam.
866-544-4434 | www.trafalgar.com
Travcoa: One of the pioneers in luxury travel to exotic destinations.
800-992-2003 | www.travcoa.com
United Vacations: The airline’s private-label brand for its vacation packaging operation, operated by MLT Vacations, offers packages to Bali, Cambodia, China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand.
888-854-3899 | www.unitedvacations.com
Wendy Wu’s China: Moved to the U.S. in 2010 and started a high-end product line for the American market called Wendy Wu’s Ultimate Collection; covers China in depth.
877-993-6399 | www.wendywuschina.com
Wilderness Travel: Off-the-beaten-path adventure tours, safaris and treks on all continents. Though it’s most known for Africa, the company offers many treks and expeditions in Asia.
800-368-2794 www.wildernesstravel.com --David Cogswell