Tag Archives: xi’an

WIT Agent Abroad: Nancy in China with Alexander & Roberts (with insider tips!)

china

Today WIT Agent Nancy is heading out to China with Alexander & Roberts! We’re excited to see what she’ll uncover.

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What is Alexander & Roberts?

A&R organizes small-group tours with no more than 16 guests for those who want to explore at their own pace with a bit of company. These are culturally rich itineraries led by local, certified guides, exploring the heart of a country at a steady, comfortable pace.

Many of our agents have traveled with A&R in different locales and would love to discuss options with you. Call us at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

For an itinerary in Japan with Alexander & Roberts, click here

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Highlights of the Middle Kingdom

Nancy’s upcoming 10-day itinerary combines land + river – covering Beijing, exploring the Wu Gorge and Three Gorges Dam aboard the Yangtze Explorer, Xi’an and Shanghai.

Among the highlights along the way:

  • Experience life as a city resident as you browse in a market for produce to bring to your hosts, a local Beijing family who will offer real personal insight into this rapidly evolving city.
  • Learn Tai Chi with a master as you join him for a private class at the Temple of Heaven.
  • A Xian resident shares his lifetime of experience as you explore with him through a city market filled with exotic fare.
  • + Sit down in one of Shanghai’s newly popular wine lounges and learn about China’s emerging taste for fine vintages… Enjoy a congenial luncheon and a glass of the house favorite.
  • + Includes 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Asia

Itinerary

BEIJING

With your expert guide, venture out into the mountains outside Juyong Pass to walk atop the breathtaking Great Wall. In Beijing, tour the grand palaces and pavilions of the Forbidden City.

You’ll start the day with a private Tai Chi lesson and learn about daily life in old China, then fly from Beijing to Yichang to board the Yangzi Explorer for a night in a balcony stateroom.

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YANGTZE EXPLORER

The leisurely cruise charts an upstream course along the Yangtze. Visit the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower dam. The ship journeys up Shennong Stream, where you might catch glimpses of sampan boats poled by Tujia boatmen and the elusive Golden Hair Monkey.

Explore Fengdu ‘s New City and take part in lectures and hands-on workshops in Chinese calligraphy, traditional brush painting, Mahjong and the art of dumpling making.

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XI’AN

Fly from Chongqing to Xi’an to admire China’s ancient capital for 13 centuries, its bustling Muslim market, and the world-famous terracotta army.

SHANGHAI

Lastly, fly to Shanghai for a tour of the lovely Yu Yuan Garden and a world-famous Shanghai acrobat show.

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HONG KONG EXTENSION – 4-Day POST TOUR

Experience facets of Hong Kong which few visitors ever glimpse. We include your flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong, 3 nights at the 5-star Kowloon Shangri-La, daily breakfast, lunch at Jimmy’s Kitchen and our exclusive Be a Hong Kong Insider full-day tour.

Insider Tips on Travel to China

PLUS: Nancy’s got the scoop on insider tips from A&R! Some tips for traveling with A&R in China:

  • Joining in with tai chi? Pack some looser, clothes, perhaps layers. Barefoot is acceptable.
  • There is no tailor onboard the Explorer ship, so ask your tour escort early in Beijing in case you need some clothes repair.
  • Doing some independent wandering during free time from your hotel? Always get the hotel’s business card, written in Chinese, to show a taxi driver when you need to find your way back.
  • If you take USD cash to exchange, bring nothing bigger than $50 bills and in pristine condition. Best to bring mostly smaller bills.  Keep exchange receipts and don’t over-exchange so that you return home with local currency.
  • Silk scarves are very popular. You will be asked if you want “real” or “almost real”. If you don’t ask or are not asked, you will be directed to the least expensive ones, which are the fakes. Best deals for real silk scarves and also wool shawls is in Beijing. Ask your tour escort where to find the best!
  • A&R selects hotels partially for those that have money exchange ability. Some hotels don’t even charge A+R passengers to exchange money. 
  • Always ask the escort for their opinion on how much local currency you may need/want over the next few days.
  • Have a shopping list and ask your first guide for the best places to obtain the items during your itinerary. Follow his recommendations. They are spot on.

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Filed under Alexander + Roberts, Asia, China

Explore China with Wild China

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Wild China is an exceptional travel company that offers amazing trips of a lifetime in China and southeast Asia. Over the years, Wild China has received numerous awards, including NatGeo’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime and Travel + Leisure’s Trips of a Lifetime. It has also been named one of NatGeo’s Best Adventure Travel Companies (On Earth).

Wild China was conceived by founder and Yunnan local Mei Zhang during a 56km pilgrimage in the Himalayas. During her grueling hike, she had no guide, lodgings or transport. Her challenges inspired her to pioneer a service for other travelers to enjoy China’s stunning cultural and natural landmarks with expertise and comfort.

For those exploring China for the first time, their escorted itineraries take guests to Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, and other familiar marks on the map. Experience China with an experience team of travel professionals, with just your family or in a small group of 12 like-minded individuals.

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For seasoned travelers, Wild China offers personalized adventures in unique locations, such as the rugged Xinjiang Province or the Tibetan Plateau. Their team of expert adventurers will take you on unforgettable journey through the rich landscape that is East Asia.

Trips are offered as private tours (fully flexible) or small group tours (with scheduled departures). They also lead education tours designed to empower young people to make a difference in local communities.

Upcoming Trips Include: 

4-Day Beijing’s Past & Future

5-Day Escape to Lhasa

10-Day Ancient Tea and Horse Road with adventurer Jeff Fuchs

13-Day Gastronomic Tour of China with food writer Fuchsia Dunlop

and many more!

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Call your agent at Wittravel to learn more about these awesome trips—503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Asia, Bhutan, China, India, Thailand, Tibet

On the Ground in China!

Considering a guided trip to China but can’t visualize your day to day? Step into our On the Ground with WIT Agent Barb Baumer. Barb traveled to China in March 2013 with one of our favorite small group tour organizers, General Tours.

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We stayed at the Sofitel in Beijing, a very nice hotel in a good location, not too far from Tiananmen Square. In the morning we had a walking tour of the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven. In the afternoon we visited we visited the Great Wall. There are now two locations most frequented by visitors, General Tours goes to this newer location called Ju Yong Guan, as it is less crowded with visitors.

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After one day in Beijing, we flew to Xian for an experience unique to General Tours—GT partners up with the Antiquity museum and allowed us to examine and handle ancient artifacts thousands of years old, all of which have been recently excavated from archaeological sites all across China.

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We also visited the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian. It’s an amazing place, much larger than I expected. IT’s hard to comprehend the enormity of the area and the amount of artifacts that have been uncovered. They are still working to rebuild many broken statues!DSC01028

We then flew to Chongqing to start our Yangtze River Cruise on the Yangtze Explorer. This ship has large rooms, all with balconies and lots of storage space, very substantial buffets for breakfast and lunch, with multiple a la carte choices for dinner. We stopped at the village Fengdu and sailed through the Three Gorges.

In Shanghai we spent time walking along the Bund and Pudong. General Tours took us to a small silk factory where we were educated on the production of silk fabric. We also spent time at the Shanghai Museum, which has great collections of Chinese artifacts, sculptures, paintings and ceramics from many different eras.

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We also were set up for a private guided trip to Suzhou, Portland’s Sister City—the city has so many gardens—it was early spring and things were just starting to bloom. We took a high speed train and met a guide in Hangzhou, a beautiful city on a lake surrounded by green hills. We visited a Buddhist temple in the hills and a tea farm—a nice respite from the bustling Shanghai.

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WIT Agent Barb would love to share with you more of her firsthand tips from China! Call Barb at 503-224-0180 for more information on China and/or General Tours.

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Filed under Asia, China, General Tours, Vendors

The Silk Road with Art Tours with Amy Osaki

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Courtesy of Walking Softly Adventures

Welcome to the Silk Road! Our partner tour guide, Amy Osaki, and her incredible tour company Walking Softly Adventures, are excited to embark on their Silk Road Itinerary in 2013. These high quality trips take a deep, intimate look into a region’s cultural heritage and its art history.

The Silk Road is a web of routes from Asia to Europe, traversing over 4,000 miles. Trade started to flourish on this network over 2,200 years ago during the Han Dynasty in China. Named after the most popular of the road’s merchandises, Chinese silk, it was also the main conduit for all sorts of goods, religion, culture, ideas, and technologies.

The Chinese monk Xuanzang traveled the Silk Road in the 7th century during the Tang dynasty, and returned to China with a stupendous collection of Buddhist manuscripts from India. These are housed in the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayan Ta) in Xi’an, China. Guests will visit this Pagoda on October 10 as part of the Adventuring on the Silk Road tour with Art Tours by Amy.

Marco Polo traveled from Venice on the Silk Road with his father and uncle in the mid 1200’s (13th century). He met Kublai Khan who requested that they bring him oil from Jerusalem. In 1271, Marco Polo and his father and uncle, traveled the Silk Road again, and delivered the oil to Kublai Khan. The Khan prohibited them from leaving. It was 24 years later when Marco Polo finally returned home to Venice! When they arrived in Venice, the city was at war with Genoa and Marco Polo was imprisoned. He recounted his story to a fellow prisoner who wrote it down; this document was published as the “Travels of Marco Polo”!

From the office of Amy Osaki: “On our trip, we begin in Xi’an and then travel north and west by plane, bus, and even camel if you wish. We explore the western-most end of the Great Wall of China, where it meets the Gobi desert at Jiayuguan. We ride camels on the sand dunes at Dunhuang, and tour the superb Mogao Caves with one of the richest collections of Buddhist cave art in the world. Then we explore the innovative underground irrigation system that brought water to Turpan, nurturing the oasis and its delicious grapes and raisins. Nearby the Bezeklik Caves are adorned with 1,500 year old paintings, and Jiaohe is a 2,200 year old Silk Road city. Urumqi’s provincial museum is an amazing repository of the art and culture of the Silk Road people, including 3,800 year old mummies. Finally, we see the soaring mountains, Tian Shan mountains north of Urumqi, and the Pamir mountains west of Kashgar. Our trip ends in Kashgar, the last major Chinese Silk Road city before the 25,000 foot peaks of the Pamir mountains which separate China from Kyrgyzstan.”

LINKS

Read about Walking Softly in our previous blog post.
Read more about the Adventuring on the Silk Road art tour online.
Enjoy a slideshow of Walking Softly’s images from the Silk Road.

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Amy Osaki

Space on this special trip is limited. Contact your Willamette agent at 800.821.0401 to be penciled in for the trip. Your $400 deposit will guarantee your reservation.

Amy Boyce Osaki leads only one or two art tours each year. This will likely be the last opportunity to travel on the Silk Road with Amy. It would be her pleasure to have you join this guaranteed departure!

Look for mention of Xinjiang and Central Asia in our newest Spring newsletter, out next week! Call us to order yours FREE today!

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Filed under Art & Architecture, Asia, Group Travel, Vendors

WIT Agent Barb heads over to China!

This week WIT Agent Barbara is heading out to the land of Dragons and Emperors! She is traveling with General Tours in China!

General Tours is renowned for its small group tours, with a maximum of 16 passengers that can book. Founded in 1947, GT is one of America’s oldest tour companies and has been lauded by Frommer’s, Travle + Leisure, and the New York Times. The tours are fully escorted, and each includes private transportation, insightful tour guides, entrance fees, most meals, internal flights and taxes. Remember agent Linda’s terrific trip to Colombia last summer? It was organized by General Tours!

Escorted by GT’s sales manager Judy Ruffini, Barb will be venturing through some major highlights of China—Beijing, Xian, the Three Gorges, and Shanghai. Here’s a sneak peek to her itinerary:

March 18-19 – Beijing. With her guide and compatriots, Barb will check out the age-old city of Beijing. She’ll explore the historic Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, and the inner courtyards of the Forbidden City. Her accommodations are pre-arranged at the Sofitel Wanda—a 5-star hotel with Sino-French influences. Centrally located with easy access to the city square, the hotel also features 4 restaurants, ballroom, and spa.

March 20-21 – Xi’an. Next, Barb will head to China’s elusive ancient capital, Xi’an. She will come face to face with the terra cotta army and learn about dance and music of the T’ang Dynasty via a live performance. She and her group will overnight at the Hilton Hotel Xian, a contemporary hotel located downtown with décor inspired by T’ang Dynasty artwork.

March 22 – Fengdu. Barb will explore the “Ghost City” of Fengdu and its lovely, historic temples.

March 23-24 – The Mighty Three Gorges and Shennong Stream. Barb and the rest of the GT gang will hop on a river boat up the Yangtze and take in the scenery of the coastline and mountain peaks. She’ll visit the mighty Three Gorges Dam and learn about its ecological and economic impacts.

March 25 – Shanghai. Finally, Barb will land in Shanghai, where she has the day to explore this cosmopolitan city and its fascinating Bazaar, tranquil Yu Yuan Garden, and hip Tianzifang district. Her accommodations are located in the center of Shanghai, opposite the People’s Square. The 5-star Le Meridien Hotel has luxurious rooms that are equipped with wall to wall windows, 42” plasma TVs, 10 restaurants, and views of the Bund, river, or Shanghai’s skyline.

Call Wittravel to discuss whether GT is right for you. We can advise you of your travel options, make reservations and shape the perfect itinerary for your preferences! We put our clients first and work hard to ensure you have a terrific trip.

Extend your trip with an add-on in Japan or South Korea! Want to splurge for a night or two? Think about the new Club Med’s resort in Guilin! For reservations or general information, give us a call.

And that’s not all! General Tours always seems to have sales and offers going on:

–         Pay in Full 2013: Save $600 or more per couple on any of our 2013 Small Group, Private Tours or Small Ship journeys when you pay-in-full at time of booking by August 30, 2013.

–         Family and Friends: Pay in Full and refer a friend or family member and save even more on your booking. Save $50 per person when 3 guests go, save $100 more per person with 4, $150 more per person with 5, $200 more per person with 6+!

WIT Agents Linda, Christina, Pam and Wailana have all been to China. Linda recently traveled to Colombia on a small group itinerary with General Tours. Call us for more details! 800.821.0401 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Asia, China, General Tours, Our Travel Agents, SALES, Vendors, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Where in the World is the WIT Agent? — Xi’an, China

This week Viking River Cruises is taking Pam to Xi’an, one of the oldest cities in China and its capital for 13 dynasties. Its strategic location, at the eastern edge of the Silk Road, encouraged its status as a political and commercial hub for centuries. There is quite a plethora of historical sites to see in the city: the Great Mosque, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, the Famen Pagoda, the Stele Forest, countless temples and museums, and the ancient Huaqing Hot Springs. It is also home to a number of mausoleums and tombs from the Zhou, Han, and Qing dynasties, perhaps most famously that of Qin Shi Huang and his Terracotta Army.


Terra Cotta warriors, photo by chinaoffseason

Despite its age, Xi’an has not diminished as a center of Chinese culture and history. Although cosmopolitan in atmosphere, the ex-capital bears the weight of 3,000 centuries with pride and enthusiasm. Another main attraction is the city wall, at 13.7 km long and 12 m high the world’s largest restored city wall. You can walk or bike it in a matter of hours, and the scenery, park and moat that run along it make for a pleasant promenade. Tourists interested in souvenirs should head to the bazaar area in the Muslim Quarter or Calligraphy Street to the south.

How to Get There: You can enter via plane, as Xi’an has its own international airport, or via trains that run from a number of cities including Beijing, Urumqi, Shanghai, Lhasa, and many others.

Great Mosque of Xi’an, photo by plusgood

Interested in touring the Xi’an or the rest of China? Email info@wittravel.com or call us at 503.224.0180.

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Filed under Asia, China, Cruises, Viking Cruises, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?