Where did you find information about Viking's 2005 China itineraries on the internet? The 2005 brochure will be out soon, and so far, I haven't been able to find anything on the web that even hints at next year's Viking plans. Don't tell anyone, but I am a travel agent who books lots of Viking River Cruises; and therefore I have been able to gather some information--but again, not from the web.
September is definitely a high season for China. Airfare and cruise fare is most expensive then--and that says something.
Although I've sailed on Viking several times, I haven't been to the Far East yet, but I have definite plans to visit China via Viking River Cruises at the beginning of May, 2005. My husband and I are planning to tour Thailand on pre-cruise--probably Bangkok and Chiangmai on our own. An airlines consolidator has convinced me that it will only cost an additional $250 in airfare to do multi-destination open-jaw flights to include the two Thailand cities. Hotels seem to be very, very reasonably priced, and I understand that restaurants offer real bargains--especially compared to paying European prices with Euros!
If anyone reading this message can recommend hotels, must-sees and must-dos, please share your knowledge with me! And if you have any questions about Viking River Cruises, I'll be glad to share my knowledge with you.