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12 Day Photographer trip of China 2004

Revised itinerary 10/15

Oct 18/Monday JFK to Beijing
Fly JFK to Tokyo via Japan Airline flight # JL 5 departing at 1:30pm

Oct 19/Tuesday Arrive Beijing
Arrive Beijing at 8:30pm, transfer to Sino Swiss Hotel (4 star) at the airport for overnight.

Oct 20/Wednesday Arrive Datong (B, L)
8:30am : Pick up from hotel, private escorted drive to Datong (about 4.5 hours), after lunch, visit the Nine Dragon Wall in the afternoon. Check into Yungang International Hotel (4 star),

Oct 21/Thursday Datong (B, L)
Full day escorted visit to the Yungang Grottoes, also photograph Datong Hotel.

Oct 22/Friday Datong to Wutaishan (B, L, D)
Drive Datong to Wutaishan (about 5.5 hours), take a cable car for a view of the Mountains in the afternoon. Check into Yindu Hotel tonight.

Oct 23/Saturday Wutaishan (B, L, D)
Full day visit to the temples of Wutaishan in Taihuai Village (Central Terrace), sightseeing includes Xian Tong Temple , Ta Yuan Temple, White Pagoda, Bronze Pavilion and Pusa Ding Temple .

Oct 24/Sunday Wutaishan (B, L, D)
Continue to visit the temples in Wutaishan.

Oct 25/Sunday Wutaishan to Pingyao (B, L, D)
Drive Wutaishan to Pingyao (about 6 hours), lunch in Taiyuan, then continue to drive to Pingyao, check into Pingyao Folk Custom Hotel.

Oct 26/Monday Pingyao (B, L)
Visit Pingyao, a historical and cultural town. Visit the Wang Courtyard. After lunch, start your visit to this ancient town –Pingyao. Please make sure the GUIDE FOR PINGYAO CAN GET THEM INTO THE COURTYARD HOUSES on CHING MING Street

Oct 27/Wednesday Pingyao to Taiyuan (B, L, D)
Full day escorted visit in Pingyao. Drive to Taiyuan in the evening, check into Shanxi Grand Hotel.

Oct 28/Thursday Taiyuan to Beijing to Tokyo (B)
Drive from Pingyao to Taiyuan Airport and fly to Beijing via MU7102 (8:00am/9:00am)
Fly Beijing to Tokyo via JL782 (2:50pm/7:10pm), upon arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport, please go to Terminal 1, take Bus No 33 and check into Narita Wind Hotel.

10/29/Friday Tokyo to JFK (B)
Breakfast at the hotel, take the airport shuttle to Narita Airport and Fly to JFK via JL06 departing at 12Noon and arrive JFK at 11:30am the same day.

B= Breakfast L= Lunch D= Dinner

Tour Futures:
-- Round trip transpacific air transportation via Japan Airline flights coach class
-- Including 1 night hotel at Tokyo airport on Oct 28
-- All intra-China air/land transportation, private escorted drive between Beijing/Datong/Wutai Shan/Pingyao/ Taiyuan
-- China airport taxes
-- 9 nights hotel as listed in the itinerary
-- Private escorted sightseeing tours in each city, entrance tickets
-- English speaking tour guides
-- Meals as listed in the itinerary

Tour does not include:
-- Chinese visa fee
-- Tips & gratitude to guides and drivers
-- Meals that are listed in the itinerary

Hotel list
-- Beijing Sino Swiss Hotel
-- Datong Yungang International Hotel
-- Wutai Shan Yindu Hotel
-- Taiyuan Shanxi Grand Hotel
-- Pingyao Folk Custom Hotel


Some 100 kilometers away from Taiyuan, Pingyao is situated in the middle of Shanxi Province. The State Council proclaimed Pingyao as a historical and cultural city in 1986. Now, there are altogether 3 key cultural relic sites under the state level protection, three under provincial level protection and 90 under county level protection. The so many valuable relics in such a large scale are rare in all the counties throughout the country. The most valuable ones are the Ten-Thousand-Buddha Palace in the Zhenguo Temple, which was built in the 7 th year (963) of the Tianhui reign in the Beihan Dynasty (951-979); the Double Forest Temple built in the 2 nd year (571) of the Wuping reign in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577); the Qingxu Taoist Temple, built in the 2 nd year (657) of the Xianqing reign in the Tang Dynasty (618-907); the Dacheng Hall of the Wenmiao Temple built in the 7 th year (963) of the Tianhui reign in the Beihan; and the Huiji Bridge built in the tenth year (16711) of the Kangxi reign of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The relics of the ancient Pingyao are of the best reserve in the entire terrain of the People's Republic of China. It is a typical sample, representing ancient cities in the central part of the country. The first bank for foreign exchange and deposit was the Rishengchang, set up in ancient Pingyao in the 3 rd year (1823) of the Dongguang reign in the Qing Dynasty. The setup of Rishengchang was a milestone of finance in the ancient times. It marked the birth of a new type of finance at the end of the feudal society with modern characteristics.

Up to now, the city wall, streets, houses, shops and temples have been almost kept intact. The layout and the flavor of the city have little changed. The valuables of the inner and outer city are under special protection and preserved intact. All these are inseparable components of the historical relics of the ancient Pingyao City and are living fossils for the research into the politics, economy, military, architecture and art of China.

Pingyao was listed on the World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, with remarks, "The ancient city of Pingyao is an outstanding example of Chinese Han Nationality cities in the Ming and Qing dynasties, displaying all the features of those periods. Pingya, in particular reveals a picture of unexpected cultural, social, economic and religious development in Chinese history".


Datong , situated in the far north of Shanxi Province, covers a total area of 14,112.56 square kilometers, with an average elevation of 700 to 1,400 meters. The city has a population of 2.848 million, about 60% of which is in rural areas. Datong has ethnic minority groups like Mongolian, Manchu, Tibetan, Hui, Miao, Korean, etc., and the Han people make up 99.6%.

Datong, with a long history and located at a strategic place, was once a capital of the country in ancient times, the capital city of two non-Han Chinese dynasties and a town of military importance in four dynasties. Datong enjoys convenient transport and communications, and boasts rich mineral resources and solid industrial foundation. It is now an energy and heavy chemical base in China, and is especially famous for coal production, which wins it the name of the "capital of coal".

The finest of the city's marvelous natural sites is a magnificent series of Yungang Grottoes built in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), just west of the city. Yungang Grottoes, Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes and Luoyang Grottoes are called China's three major grottoes, which are of very high artistic value.

The most beautiful landscape in Datong is Hengshan, one of the five holy mountains of Taoism. At the foot of Hengshan Mountain, there is the almost unbelievable Midair Temple, which lies against cliffs and stays high up in the air, and is acclaimed as the peak of perfection.

Wutai Mountain

Wutai Mountain has the longest and most prestigious history in the four well-known Buddhist Mountains.

Located in Wutai Country of Shanxi Province, 240 kilometers from the provincial capital of Taiyuan, the mountain is actually a cluster of five terrace-like peaks -- East Terrace, West Terrace, South Terrace, North Terrace and Central Terrance, hence the name Wutai (Five Terraces). The North Terrace is the highest peak -- about 3,058 meters above sea level -- and is named as the Roof of North China. Wutai Mountain covers 2,873 square meters, spanning more than 100 kilometers.

Natural Heritage

Wutai Mountain is a famous scenic spot under national protection. It is famous for its Tibet-like bright blue sky and the breath taking natural beauty -- beautiful surroundings, with trees covering ancient temples and monasteries. The buildings look exceptionally impressive, and the stone carvings are of superb craftsmanship. The painted sculptures are of various shapes and types and no two sculptures are of the same kind.

In the mountain area, spring arrives in April, and snow falls in September and even in mid-summer, it is cool and pleasant. The cool and pleasant summer climate of Wutai Mountain has also given rise to another name: Qingliang (Cool and Pleasant) Mountain. The mountain has been regarded as an ideal place for escaping summer heat since ancient times.

Cultural Heritage

Today, most of the temples are still in good condition. Within their walls is a rich legacy of over 100,000 superb sculptures and paintings, along with a great quantity of Buddhist cultural relics.

1. Temples

For hundreds of years, Wutai Mountain has been China's most sacred Buddhist ground mainly because it was where the highly revered Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of wisdom, once lived and taught Buddhism. Numerous temples on Wutai Mountain contain many relics and have different features.

With a history of 1,200 years, the main hall of the Nanchan Temple on the mountain, which houses 17 painted figurines, is the earliest wooden structure of its kind preserved in China today. And it's a real treasure of China . Its eaves stretch out, and the hall has not a single column. Its outer appearance looks simple and its structure concise, which are similar to the Tang Dynasty art in style.

The Big White Pagoda for Buddha's Sarira, the symbol of the Wutai Mountain, is said to have been built there before the Emperor Mingdi of the Eastern Han Dynasty. The pagoda, Nepalese style in shape, has a base circumference of 83.3 meters and is 75.3 meters high. Inside the pagoda, there is small India-made iron stupa, where some remains of Sakyamuni are kept.

Xiantong Temple is the oldest temple in China and also the biggest on Wutai Mountain . Originally built in the Eastern Han Dynasty, it has been placed under state protection. Covering eight hectares, the temple has 400-odd halls. Inside, there are 3 pure copper halls cast in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), engraved with fine patterns and bronze Buddhist figurines. On the sides, two 13-storied bronze towers also made in the Ming dynasty, each with a height of eight meters, are covered with cast Buddhist figurines, carved patterns and various inscriptions.

2. History

For hundreds of years, Wutai Mountain has drawn emperors from various dynasties here on pilgrimage, adding more significance to the mountain. Furthermore, Wutai Mountain is China's only holy mountain where both Chinese Buddhism and Tibetan Lamaism are practiced. Dalai Lamas, Panchen Lamas and Lcangskyahothogthu (a living Buddha) have visited and preached here, some are even buried here.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), a Buddhist academy was established here, attracting believers from both at home and abroad through the ages, such as India , Japan, Mongolia, Korea, Nepal and Sri Lanka, etc.

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