For China Olympics, Let the Planning Begin

Some fans of the Beijing Olympics are no taller than Huanhuan the Eternal Flame, left, and Yingying the Tibetan Antelope, two of the  mascots of the 2008 Summer Games.
Some fans of the Beijing Olympics are no taller than Huanhuan the Eternal Flame, left, and Yingying the Tibetan Antelope, two of the mascots of the 2008 Summer Games. (By Guang Niu -- Getty Images)
Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Summer Olympics in Beijing may be a year and a half away, but it's never too early to start planning to be part of the event whose motto is the ever-hopeful "One World One Dream." Flights aren't yet available for purchase, but package companies are already taking reservations.

WHEN: Aug. 8-24, 2008

GETTING THERE: United's nonstop Dulles-to-Beijing service commences March 28; tickets for the 14-hour trip so far start around $880 and climb rapidly. Connecting service with various carriers is available from the Washington area starting at about $1,000. But prices could change dramatically by next year. Many companies arranging packages to the Olympics won't book the flight, and if they do, it may not be the cheapest rate available; as Kevin Steele, president of CoSport, an official sponsor of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, said, "Our core competency is the Games themselves." Enlisting a travel agent or scouring the Web might turn up better fares.

TICKETS: For those living in mainland China, tickets should be available in April through, as well as at Bank of China branch locations; the Web site lists prices starting around $3.80. For the rest of us, tickets aren't yet available; tickets are supposed to sell for the same base price for locals and Westerners. According to Steele, the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) "wants to encourage and facilitate local participation, so pricing will be that much more reasonable."

CoSport (877-457-4647, is accepting "expressions of interest," basically a no-guarantee (but no-deposit) reservation system that will generate a ticket request for up to eight tickets per session (for a maximum of 48 tickets) once the schedules are released.

PACKAGES: CoSport will sell individual event tickets as well as tickets/accommodations-only and full-service packages including accommodations, tickets, airport transfers and excursions; the cheapest full-service package is expected to run between $5,000 and $6,000 per person based on double occupancy. CoSport does not arrange flights.

Roadtrips (800-465-1765, offers five-, six- and nine-night packages starting at $7,500 per person double, plus airfare. (Packages with five-star accommodations will set you back $9,000 to $10,000 per person before flights, which the company can arrange.) Lodging, tickets to two "Level 1" events (such as gymnastics or track and field) and two "Level 2" events (boxing, rowing, etc.), an on-site host and a bilingual guide are included in the packages, with optional add-ons such as additional sporting events, airport transfers and opening/closing ceremony tickets.

Anbritt Stengele of Sports Traveler (888-654-7755,, which offers similar packages starting at $5,995 per person double plus airfare, recommends customizing a Games package. "It's not like the Super Bowl, where there's one event," she said. Stengele suggests choosing your trip dates based on the sports you'd like to see and considering Great Wall tours, river tours and Hong Kong extensions for itinerary add-ons.

BONUS POINTS: Venues outside the capital will hold some Olympic events. Qingdao will host sailing; soccer preliminaries will be held in Shanghai, Shenyang, Qinhuangdao and Tianjin; and Hong Kong will be home to the equestrian events. . . . The Paralympic Games, which have been held in the Olympic host city since 1960, will be in Beijing Sept. 6-17.

MORE INFO: Beijing 2008, Beijing Tourism Administration, China National Tourist Office, 888-760-8218, U.S. Olympic Committee, 719-632-5551,

-- Anne McDonough

© 2007 The Washington Post Company