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10 places you never thought you could afford: 2013 edition

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For some destinations, a reputation precedes them. They are thought to be expensive, inaccessible, and out of reach for many travelers. But don’t judge them on their pasts. Far-flung places like Hawaii, New Zealand, Russia, and even China are becoming easier to get to, and some recent deals are too good to refuse. So in the interest of challenging stereotypes, consider these 10 destinations that just might be more affordable than you think.

Note: Deals listed are meant to illustrate a trend and many will expire soon; however, similar offers are likely to follow so check back with the providers mentioned for the very latest.

China
With stringent visa requirements and hard-to-find online planning resources, China is often considered “complicated” by many Western travelers. However, all that is starting to change. In January, the China National Tourist Offices launched a new website for North American travelers to highlight travel information, from suggestions on activities to planning assistance. And the country is finding other ways to encourage tourism. For instance, effective January 1, 2013, transit passengers from the U.S. and Canada are now allowed to stay in Beijing and Shanghai for 72 hours without a visa. And as China soars as a leading air-travel market with more airlines adding new service, it’s becoming easier to get to.

The country is surprisingly affordable, too. At the time of publication, fares on Air China include $808 from New York to Shanghai and Guangzhou and $951 from Los Angeles to Beijing. Starting July 11, the airline will add new service between Houston and Beijing, so look for more introductory fares to appear. Tour operator China Spree has launched a 10-day Tibet and Beijing trip starting at $1,899, which includes round-trip airfare from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Beijing, round-trip airfare from Beijing to Tibet, four-star hotels, meals, and day tours. The company also lists an eight-day Beijing-only tour with round-trip airfare from just $899. For those yearning to sail the Yangtze, Viking River Cruises is offering up to two-for-one pricing on its China’s Cultural Delights and Imperial Jewels of China departures (mention offer 03).

Want to take advantage of the 72-hour visa exception? Exotissimo Travel has conveniently launched a Beijing/Hong Kong Visa Free City Escape.

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