Preparing for your trip

Package: Best of China & Yangtze Cruise


Item Due
Complete your tour registration and send color copies of each travelers' passport photo/signature page. A link to this secure form will be included in your booking confirmation email. Within 24 hours of booking
Ensure you have a current passport, and that the name on your booking matches your passport exactly. Immediately
Request any additions or changes you may still want to make to your trip. (Fees and/or additional charges may apply.) 75 days prior to travel
Make your final payment, if any balance is due.
75 days prior to travel
Book connecting flights to your departure city, if necessary. (Please confirm your international flight schedule first!) 60–85 days prior to travel
Make advance seat reservations for your international flight, if you have a preference. After receiving your e-tickets
Obtain required travel visas and review any requirements for entry. See below
Print your itinerary and other final documents, which we will send you via email 14 days prior to travel. Prior to travel
Print your policy documents, if you purchased travel insurance, and carry with you. Prior to travel
Enroll in The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) if you're a U.S. citizen, so the State Dept. can locate and assist you in case of an emergency. Prior to travel
Call the airline to confirm your flight schedule and any special meal requests. 72 hours prior to travel
Arrive at the airport, ready for the trip of a lifetime! 3½ hours prior to departure

Important Notes

If you have chosen one of the extensions offered, your flights have to be confirmed separately by the airlines. Please note that it may take up to 5 business days to confirm your extension flights with the airline, and we will notify you immediately upon confirmation of the flights. In the unlikely event that we are unable to confirm your extension, you will have the option to take the tour without the extension, select another travel date where the extension is available or receive a full refund. The Hong Kong extension requires a minimum of 2 passengers to operate and the Tibet extension requires a minimum of 6 passengers.

Travel Documents

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for China

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid for at least eight months after your return date, though we recommend at least a year.

U.S. passport holders must have a visa to enter China, obtained prior to arrival. Applications must be submitted in person by the applicant at the China Embassies or Consulates in the United States or through a fee based visa service such as our preferred provider, Visa HQ. See the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information. 

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for Tibet

In addition to the entry requirements for China, all visitors to Tibet must also obtain a Tibet Travel Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB). Together with our local partners, we will obtain the Tibet Travel Permit for our travelers and deliver the permit to you while in destination. See the China National Tourist Office website for more information.

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for Hong Kong

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid for at least one month after your return date, though we strongly recommend it be valid for at least six months after your return date. U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to enter Hong Kong for stays up to 90 days. However, a visa is required for entry to all other areas of China. See the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information.

If you do not hold a U.S. passport, you are responsible for obtaining any necessary visas and meeting all entry requirements. If a visa is required, we recommend using a fee-based visa service, such as our preferred provider VisaHQ.

Passport Copies

For this package, we are required to obtain copies of your passport(s). Please scan the photo and signature pages of each travelers' valid passport and email them to If you are unable to scan your passport(s), please make clear, legible color photocopies instead and mail to our office address. If you do not presently have a valid passport, send us a color copy of your most recent passport and let us know when your new one is expected. Then send us a copy of the new passport upon receipt.

General Requirements & Guidelines

  • It is the responsibility of each traveler to determine passport and visa requirements and comply with them and to secure the proper travel documents. To avoid disappointment and unnecessary expenses, please carefully review the requirements so that you can obtain all necessary documents well before your trip. Requirements are subject to change, often without notice, and we suggest you verify requirements with the relevant embassy or consulate. Airlines and cruises may deny boarding and your trip may be disrupted if your passport and visa are not in order. We will not be held responsible for any charges, trip interruptions, or cancellations due to incorrect or missing visas, nor will travel insurance cover your lost expenses.
  • Any changes in names or passport information should be reported to us immediately.
  • Minors (children under 18) traveling abroad without parents or with only one parent are required by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to present additional documents such as (but not limited to) notarized permission letter and/or unabridged birth certificate. The U.S. Department of State has more information. Some other countries have similar requirements; check with the consulates of all countries you'll be visiting to learn more.

Final Documents

Your final travel documents will be sent to you via email 14 days prior to your departure. These will include your daily itinerary, hotel and emergency contact information, and other relevant information. Please print these and take them with you. If you're departing in less than a week and haven't received these, let us know!

Travel Protection Plan

If you purchased travel insurance, please print your policy documents. If you purchased our travel protection plan by Travelex, you can find the full policy here, which varies slightly by state. Carry these documents with you when you travel, as they include contact information for emergency travel assistance and instructions on how to make a claim.

Flights, Transfers & Arrival

Flight Schedule: please see your flight schedule below. Note that airlines may change flight schedules even after flights have been confirmed, and we are not responsible for such changes.

Need to arrange connecting flights? While you may want to book these as soon as possible, we strongly suggest waiting until 60–85 days prior to departure (and after you make your final payment). Airlines do occasionally change their schedules, and your international flight times may change even after you're booked. When you purchase connecting flights, always confirm the schedule for your international flights first. Leave at least 3½ hours connecting time between flights, and if you're traveling within a few weeks of Daylight Savings Time changes (in March and November, when flight schedules may change even more dramatically), allow 5–5½ hours between flights. Nobody likes waiting around the airport, but missing your flight is far worse!

Arrival & departure transfers: Scheduled group airport transfers at the destination are included with this package. When you exit customs, please look for our representative holding a Friendly Planet sign, who will cheerfully escort you to your transfer vehicle and assist with your luggage. Private transfers may also be available for an additional fee—contact us for price and availability. Or you may instead arrange your own ground transportation to the package start and end points. (Note that there is no discount for any unused included transfers).

Want to reserve specific seats?

We do not usually assign seats; the airline typically does this within 24 hours of departure. If you are not happy with your seat assignment, you may be able to change your seats, subject to availability, either when you check in at the counter or during online check-in (if available). In most cases, you may also request specific seat assignments more than 24 hours before departure, but this may incur a fee, payable to the airline. Learn more about Advance Seat Reservations.

Want to request a special meal?

You can enter special meal requests when you book with an agent or complete your online registration, shortly after booking. We will relay your requests to the airlines and our representatives abroad, but we cannot guarantee they will be honored. Please double check meal requests with the airline 72 hours before departure, and with our representatives upon arrival.

Looking to earn frequent flyer miles?

You may be able to earn frequent flyer points on this package. Contact the airline directly once you receive your tickets to enter your frequent flyer number in your flight record, or enter it when you check in. As you travel, check with the agent prior to boarding each flight to be sure the number has been entered properly. And just to be safe, keep your boarding passes and passenger receipt, as proof that you have actually flown the miles you want credited to your account.

Interested in upgrading to business class or premium economy?

Cabin upgrades may be available on this package. Ask us about price and availability when you book online, in the special requests section, or after you book. However, our special contracted airfare rates generally do not permit upgrading with frequent flyer miles.

Questions about your flights? Call our air department at 800-555-5765 ext. 208.

Air China's (CA) toll-free number is 800-882-8122.

Sample Flight Schedule for May 14 - Oct 8, 2018 Departures

Los Angeles (LAX):

IMPORTANT! Your USA departure leaves at 1:40 AM. You must check-in no later than 10:00pm of the night before! If you have any questions about your departure date or time, please call us at 800-555-5765.

Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CA 984 Los Angeles (LAX) Beijing (PEK) 1:40 am 5:20 am +1 12.40 hrs
CA 1835 PEK Shanghai (PVG) 8:00 am 10:15 am 2.15 hrs
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CA 987 PEK LAX 3:00 pm 12:00 pm 12 hrs

New York (JFK):

Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CA 982 New York (JFK) Beijing (PEK) 4:50 pm 6:20 pm +1 13.30 hrs
CA 1589 PEK Shanghai (SHA) 8:30 pm 10:40 pm 2.15 hrs
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CA 981 PEK JFK 1:00 pm 2:20 pm 13.20 hrs

Sample Flight Schedule for November 5, 2018 Departures

Los Angeles (LAX):

IMPORTANT! Your USA departure leaves at 1:40 AM. You must check-in no later than 9:00pm of the night before! If you have any questions about your departure date or time, please call us at 800-555-5765.

Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CA 984 Los Angeles (LAX) Beijing (PEK) 12:40 am 6:30 am +1 12.50 hrs
CA 1835 PEK Shanghai (PVG) 7:55 am 10:15 am 2.20 hrs
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CA 987 PEK LAX 3:00 pm 11:00 am 12 hrs

New York (JFK): 

Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CA 982 New York (JFK) Beijing (PEK) 3:50 pm 6:40 pm +1 13.50 hrs
CA 1589 PEK Shanghai (SHA) 8:30 pm 10:40 pm 2.15 hrs
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CA 981 PEK JFK 1:00 pm 1:30 pm 13.20 hrs

Federal law forbids you to carry hazardous materials aboard aircraft in your checked or carry-on baggage or on your person, including explosives, compressed gases, flammable liquids & solids, loaded firearms, poisons, corrosives and radioactive materials. Common examples include paints, lighter fluid, fireworks, mace/tear gas and oxygen bottles. Restricted materials may vary by airline and destination. Some items, in quantities of no more than 70 ounces total, may be carried within baggage, including medicinal or toilet articles such as hairspray, perfume and certain medicines that are necessary during your journey. Please check with the airline and/or visit the FAA website prior to travel if you have any questions.

Arrival Complications

We make every effort to ensure our tours run smoothly and trouble-free. We don't expect any problems, and nor should you. But when things don't go as planned, here's what to do:

  • You miss your flights, or your flights are cancelled: Please call us immediately. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox, with a phone number to reach you at, and we'll get right back to you.
  • Your flights are delayed and you're worried about missing your included transfers: Don't worry, our representatives will be tracking your arrival, and will plan accordingly.
  • Your package includes transfers, but you can't find our representative at your destination: Don't panic—they may have been unexpectedly delayed. Wait up to 30 minutes. Then, contact the first hotel on your itinerary and leave a message there for our representative. Otherwise, or if you can't reach them, call us. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox. If all else fails, you may make your own way to the starting hotel (or cruise port), and we'll refund you the cost of your transfer.

Packing & Luggage

What to pack: Check out our blog post on our Top 10 Must-Haves for International Travel.

Baggage allowance: On this program you are permitted one carry-on bag per person and one piece of checked luggage not to exceed 44lbs. The carry on must not exceed 18" x 10" x 8" so that it fits under your seat or in the overhead compartment.

If you exceed the baggage limits, you may be subject to excess baggage charges. For more information about baggage restrictions on your international flights, see our Airline Baggage Allowances page. Note that the airline baggage allowances may be greater than ours, as our packages have other limitations such as space aboard our motorcoaches. Porterage is covered in your package price, but only for one checked bag per person, and it is much easier and faster to move in and out of hotels with a single bag.

We will mail you Friendly Planet luggage tags with your invoice. Fill in the luggage tags with your name and contact information and attach to each bag, including carry-ons and camera cases, so that your luggage can be identified should it get misplaced during your trip. However, we are not responsible for lost or damaged luggage.


The meals included with your package are listed in the itinerary. For all other meals, you're at liberty to dine where you like. Your hotels will have several dining choices, from coffee shops to specialty restaurants.

Please see above for special meal requests.

Special Requests

Please see above for special meal requests, advance seat assignments, and flight cabin upgrades.

If you have any other special requests, including wheelchair or electric cart assistance, please mention your request when you book with an agent or in the special requests section when you book online. We will do our best to accommodate them!

Travel Tips

Check out our country guides for information about currency conversion, tipping, weather, what to buy, voltage & plugs, immunizations you should get, and more.