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Expo appeal

2009. 14 June

( Our travel expert answers queries on routes and destinations around the world

Q: I am interested in visiting Expo 2010 in Shanghai next year. I would prefer not to be part of a tour group but to organise my visit as part of an extended trip to China. Could you give me details of the expo dates, ticket availability and prices? — David Gregg

A: Expo 2010 takes place from May 1 to October 31 2010 with the theme “Better City — Better Life”. It is expected to draw around 70-million visitors to Shanghai. Tickets go on sale to individuals on July 1 and close on December 21 2009. Only single-day admission tickets will be on sale at RMB 180 (about R213) for peak days and RMB 140 for standard days. From January 1 2010 to April 30 2010 you will be able to buy a variety of single-day ticket options as well as three-day and seven-day tickets. Full details are available at

Q: Over summer I would like to visit some relatives who live in totally different parts of the world. My sister lives near Frankfurt and my son is in Hong Kong. It appears that I cannot get a ticket on one airline without having to backtrack to the first destination. For instance, I can fly Lufthansa from Jo’burg to Frankfurt and then on to Hong Kong, but have to fly to Frankfurt before returning to Jo’burg if I want to use the same airline. One-way tickets are very expensive and I would prefer not to buy two separate tickets from Johannesburg, one to Paris and one to Hong Kong. An added problem is I don’t think a two-continent trip qualifies for a “round the world” ticket. Do you have any suggestions? — Richard Schmidt

A: The best solution is for you to buy a “circle” or “triangular” ticket, which allows you to stop over on two continents. For you, I would recommend the triangular excursion fare offered by SAA and Cathay Pacific. You would fly to Frankfurt on SAA, then to Hong Kong and back to Johannesburg on Cathay Pacific. The fare would be R12790 excluding airport taxes and service fees. You could also make use of the triangular excursion fare offered by British Airways, Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair. This would allow you to fly from Johannesburg to Frankfurt (via London on British Airways), then to Hong Kong and on to Johannesburg on Cathay Pacific. The ticket would cost around R12700 excluding taxes and fees. Both of these triangular packages can also be used to combine a trip to Australia and Hong Kong. Find out more about these fares from your travel agent or check out the or websites.

Q: I have received an offer for free nights at a resort. I would love to take it up, but am sure there must be a catch. What are some of the pitfalls of these offers? — Alison Beard

A: The offer is certainly worth checking out, as it may simply be the resort’s way of drumming up extra business in these difficult times. Many resorts and hotels will be trying to get people into their rooms at any price in the hope that they can make something on food, drink and entertainment. You don’t say whether you are paying for some of the accommodation, as in “pay for seven nights and get seven nights free”. This is the most likely type of offer to be legitimate, but you need to check that the price for your paid-for nights is not inflated. You may discover that it would cost you less to pay for all the nights directly through a discount website!

The most common “hidden clause” is that some or all meals are compulsory. This means they will be added to your bill whether you take them or not. Check the meal rates in this case — a sneaky operator will suddenly inflate the rate of the breakfast you get for free on your paid nights. Be careful of phrases like: “Your room is completely free — all you pay for is your meals!”

If you are being offered the free nights without having to pay for any of them, there’s a fair chance that you are signing up for a timeshare sales pitch. You will be told that you only have to attend a short presentation on your first or second day, but you could end up being chased around by some tough-talking salesman for the rest of your stay. The reality is that the best products don’t need such hard-sell tactics, so don’t be tempted by this type of offer. And whenever you are offered an excursion, an invitation to a cocktail party or to choose a gift, never assume that it is “on the house”. As always, a wise traveller is never afraid to ask: “How much will that cost me?”