Seven Stars' small group tours is back for 2006. After taking a year off to write and teach, we are organizing another unique trek through China. Here's a brief round up of where our tour of Imperial Cities and Country Villages we will explore from April 8 through 22.
Our trip will begin in Shanghai, famous in its own right for food and entertainment, then continue southward to Suzhou to enjoy the gardens this ancient town is world famous for. From there we move further south to Zhouzhuang.
Zhouzhuang is like a small Chinese Venice, criss-crossed by canals, which are crossed by humpbacked bridges. With its 900 year history, Zhouzhuang has hundreds of stone houses from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Our next stop after Zhouzhuang is Tunxi at the foot of Huang shan. Tunxi is well known for its ancient shops specializing in scholar's treasures and antiques. The Tunxi area is also home to many famous clan ancestral halls. These halls have been well preserved, complete with their antique furnishings and are said to date from the Ming dynasty.
Near Tunxi we'll visit several other small, clan villages. Like Tunxi, these small Anhui villages were hometown to many successful businessmen throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties. These men sent home money to build magnificent mansions, ancestral halls and stone arches. Of of these mansion gardens we'll visit house hundreds of penzai (the Chinese forerunner of Japanese bonsai).
Huang Shan stands out as one of China's most beautiful mountains. Known for its wildly shaped pine trees and craggy rock formations and peaks, Huang Shan has been a prime destination for Chinese painters for thousands of years.
Descending Huang Shan, we leave behind village life for the old Tang capitol of Xian. This city is well known as home to the Terracotta Warrior Army, which we'll visit, but we'll also visit the tomb of China's only ruling Empress, Wu Zetian. Her tomb is famous for the 61 stone statues of officials and minorities (now headless). In Xian, we'll also visit the Wild Goose Pagoda, Famen Temple, the grand city wall and stroll around the Muslim quarter.
From the old capitol of Xian we'll fly to the new, Beijing. In Beijing, everyone will have their choice of the must see sites: the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven or an alternative for those who have visited the city previously. We are also planning a trip to a section of the Great Wall rarely visited that both return visitors and new comers alike should quite enjoy.
The complete cost for this 15 day tour, including food and hotels, all travel and entrance fees, and airfare from the US is only $3695.
Itinerary Highlights: Group # 20060409
April 8 - (Sat.) Depart from U.S.
9 - Arrive Shanghai. Dinner
10 - Yuyuan Garden and Bazzar, Shanghai Museum, Bund. Boat cruise along Huangpu River in the evening.
11 - To Suzhou. Master of the Nets Garden, Coiled Gate (the original city gate of Suzhou), Suzhou Silk Museum. Evening Classical Chinese Music Show at Master of the Nets.
12 - To Zhouzhuang. Step back in time walking the cobble lanes of Zhouzhuang, known as “Water Town.” Hall of Zhang's Residence, Hall of Shen's Residence. Evening flight to Tunxi (Huangshan City) via Shanghai.
13 - Visit beautiful country villages: Hongchun, Xidi, Nanping, surrounded by hills and streams, with well preserved Ming & Qing period houses, where the movie Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon was shot.
14 - Visit Tangyue Village, with group of magnificent Ming and Qing stone memorial archways, clan halls for men and women. Bao Family Garden, with great collection of Bonsai plants. Afternoon free.
15 - Travel up Huangshan by cable car. Widely reconized as the No.1 mountain under heaven, Huangshan features unique-shaped pines, craggy rocks, sea of clouds and hot springs. It is an inspiration for Chinese artists for centuries.
16 - AM Huangshan, PM descend Huangshan by cable car. Explore Tunxi with its Old Street, hundreds of old, well preserved shops and buildings. Tunxi was a trading and distribution center for Anhui province, & now is home to many shops selling a mix of old & “new” antiques.
17 - To Hangzhou, visiting a tea farm on the way. Fly to Xi'an.
18 - Army of Terracotta Warriors, Big Goose Pagoda, Muslim Quarter, Great Mosque.
19 - Qian Tomb of Tang Emperor Gaozong and Empress Wu Zetian, Famen Temple, built in AD 200, with recently discovered thousand year old artifats. PM fly to Beijing.
20 - Great Wall, Ming Tomb, Acrobatic Show.
21 - Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Peking Duck Dinner.
22 - Morning Free, Lunch, Afternoon Return Home.
Questions? Call 703/573-2939
I cannot imagine anyone reading this who didn't see Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. We have to admit seeing it more than three times. Of course, everyone who knows us, knows we've been in love with the old China for years. Now a days, when we watch the movie, we check out the scenery as much as watch the swordplay.
Our Taoist Tour this spring will be like walking thru scenes from the movie, honestly. We'll be visiting those few places left in China that still retain the spirit & glory of the old days. We've been traveling off the main road for years in China & know where the Dragons Hide.
On this journey we will visit sites important to Taoist and TaijiQuan lineages including, Qingdao's Lao Mountain and Wudan Mountain in Hubei. Wudan was featured in the closing scenes in Crouching Tiger & is the legendary birth place of taijiquan. We will visit Pingyao to get the flavor of an Imperial city in Ming and Qing times. We will also visit Shaolin Temple the well spring of so many of China's martial arts.
As we enter our tenth year, Seven Stars Tours continues to be dedicated to small groups & unique itineraries. See tour details below. Every Seven Stars Tour is different...
Scott & Meilu Rodell
China is a land of unparalleled Natural Beauty, with Splendid Classical Gardens, Medieval Walled Cities, Courtyard Mansions, and Ancient Temples hidden just off the beaten track. This year our tour will see the best examples of these though many are practically unknown even locally in China.
Starting in Beijing, we will visit the must see Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Ming Tombs and Lama Temple, & even catch an evening of Acrobatics.
Then we fly west to begin our cruise up the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges. We'll be traveling aboard the Qianlong, a beautiful 4 star cruise ship, in classic Chinese dragon boat style. The cruise pauses at ancient local sites & we'll tour the Little Gorges on smaller boats.
From Chongqing, we fly to Nanjing, the "Southern Capital," where we visit the first Ming Emperor's Tomb & the incredible Ming City Wall, the largest in China. Then it's on to Yangzhou, an economic & cultural center of Imperial China, near the junction of the Grand Canal & Yangtze. Yangzhou was home to scholars, painters, poets, & merchants in ancient China. Today it is a nice , little city with tree-lined boulevards, dotted with canals, bridges & gardens.
Heading north, Pingyao, the best preserved medieval town in China & a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is our next stop. It's easy to understand why this city with its bell & drum towers, over 400 medieval mansions & intact city walls & towers is a Heritage site. Visiting Pingyao is like traveling back in time.
We use our expertise to make unique itineraries, travel in small group. (Limited to 16) & always leave free time for you to explore on your own.
Total cost, including airfare, ground transportation, meals, hotels & local entrance fees: $3950. Please register by April 30. (Fill in the Registration Form & include $450 deposit). Early register is encouraged to ensure your direct international flights.