Program photograph
Upcoming Programs:
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Total Solar Eclipse and Highlights of China

July 15-25, 2009
Shared program with Dartmouth College
(with optional extensions to Chengde Summer Palace, Yangzi River Cruise or Huang Mountains)
Faculty: Ed Murphy, U.Va. Associate Professor of Astronomy
Price: $4,390 per passenger, land only, based upon double occupancy:
International air based on departure city (See quotes below).
Single Supplement: $1,490

Please call us at 866-765-2646.

Registration is Open

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On this 11-day tour, witness the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century at Anji in southern China, one of the best places on Earth for viewing this rare celestial event. We'll also have the opportunity to experience some of China's most beautiful regions and delve into China's past and present through immersion in its unique life and culture.

As the world's oldest continuous civilization, China is an incredible realm to explore. Visitors are immersed in a sea of visual and cultural experiences unlike any other in the world. Having developed for the most part independent of foreign cultural domination, each geographic area teems with its own unique identity. You will be amazed at how regions differ, even though they express similar values and ideals. We'll also find that China has a deep tradition of scientific study, especially in the field of astronomy. Our aim on this tour is to explore and enjoy China's scientific and natural wonders and her fascinating civilization.

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Program Highlights

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Grand Hotel Beijing: Opened on September 22 1990, the hotel was admitted as a formal member of the Leading Hotels of the World in the same year. Located within the red walls of the old royal city at the east side of the Forbidden City, it displays the luxury and dignity of Chinese style. Amenities include free Internet access, indoor swimming pool, health center, sauna and Turkish bath.

Sofitel Hotel: The majestic Sofitel Xian is located in Renmin Square and complies with Chinese 5-star platinum standards, making it the most luxurious hotel in the region.

Shangri-La Hotel: Shangri-La Hotel, Hangzhou, known throughout the region for its elegance and gracious service, is located just five minutes from downtown Hangzhou and sits directly beside Hangzhou's most scenic attraction, West Lake.

Royal Le Meridian Hotel: Stylish and sophisticated with an ultra-modern design, Royal Le Meridian is one of Shanghai's tallest landmarks, and its location at the center of Shanghai on the historic Nanjing Road East, opposite the People's Square and overlooking the Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Grand Theater, puts guests at the heart of one of the world's most exciting cities. The hotel's 761 guestrooms and suites feature the latest technology and floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall windows that afford views of the Bund, the Huang Pu river, People's Square Park and Shanghai's famed skyline.

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21 meals: 9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 5 dinners

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Edward Murphy is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Virginia. As the coordinator for the education and public outreach program in the Department of Astronomy, he runs the Public Night Program and can be found at McCormick Observatory at almost every Public Night. He teaches introductory astronomy to non-science majors, evening classes for the public at McCormick Observatory, summer workshops for teachers and seminars for graduate students and first year undergraduates.

His research interest is studying the interstellar medium (the gas between the stars) using an orbiting satellite, the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, and radio telescopes in West Virginia. He has traveled to see an annular solar eclipse in 1994 and a total solar eclipse in 2006.

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July 15 - Depart San Francisco or New York

Our tour departs San Francisco or New York for a non-stop flight to Beijing.
Recommended group air carrier: Air China

July 16 - Beijing

We arrive in Beijing at 5:00 p.m. Our national tour escort will meet us at the airport and we'll transfer to the hotel.
Grand Hotel (Meals aloft)

July 17 - Beijing

After breakfast, we explore Beijing's picturesque Houhai district where many old courtyard homes are preserved amid narrow hutong alleys bordering tree-lined lakes. Tour the district by "pedicab" for a lively experience of traditional Chinese life. We will stop by the Liuyinjie Elementary School and visit with children and teachers in school.

Later, we divide into smaller groups and enjoy lunch at a local family's private home.

Then we'll visit the Summer Palace, explore its beautiful grounds, cruise the lovely Kunming Lake and stroll through the royal gardens. We will walk the Painted Gallery, the longest covered walkway in China, famous for its exquisite landscape paintings.

On the way back, we stop by the Olympic Village and see the new Olympic stadiums with their innovative design. Herzog & de Meuron designed the National Stadium, frequently referred to as the "Bird's Nest," while the National Swimming Center, better known as the "Water Cube," was designed by the firm PTW.

This evening, enjoy a special Peking duck banquet.
Grand Hotel (B, L, D)

July 18 - Beijing

We'll have the opportunity to enjoy an optional early morning walk to Changpuhe Park to observe local Chinese practicing traditional health forms including taiji and qigong.

We spend the whole morning at the Forbidden City, the abiding symbol of imperial China, marveling at its expansive architecture, magnificent imperial gardens and many museums of Chinese antiquities and treasures.

In the afternoon we visit the Temple of Heaven, one of the finest cultural expressions of the Ming Dynasty. The Temple of Heaven represents the most advanced architectural principles of the time and serves as the ritual center of the imperial government. Afterwards, there is an optional tour of the Pearl Market outside the Temple ground.

Tonight is free. Dinner is on our own.
Grand Hotel (B, L)

July 19 - Beijing

In the morning we tour the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu, a rugged section of the Wall that is less crowded and has a cable car available. We'll enjoy the astounding views of the Wall as it winds over the surrounding hills. Afternoon is free for our own exploration.

Tonight, we enjoy a special banquet at the Shanglingyuan Restaurant in the lovely Beihai Imperial Garden.
Grand Hotel (B, L, D)

July 20 - Beijing / Xian

This morning, we fly to the ancient Tang Dynasty capital of Xian. Upon arrival, we'll visit the extraordinary 2,300-year-old terracotta warriors, the tomb of China's first emperor, Qinshihuang. The warriors still stand on the original site of the emperor's burial complex, where peasants discovered them in 1974.

Our day concludes with a dumpling banquet, featuring 20 varieties of traditional Chinese dumplings.
Sofitel Hotel (B, L, D)

July 21 - Xian / Hangzhou

This morning we visit the Han Emperor's Tomb, Yangling Museum, to view recent archaeological finds on the excavation site.

Then we fly to Hangzhou and check into our hotel. Hangzhou is the most idyllic city in China, a successful merging of traditional and modern that exudes the cultural sophistication of the southern Chinese.

We'll explore Guo Zhuang Garden, one of the magnificent private gardens of China situated on the West Lake. Countless garden views open onto colorful lake scenery and surrounding hillsides, a thrilling experience for the garden lover. Later, we take a leisurely walk from Quyuanfenghe to Su Causeway to enjoy the most elegant and poetic part of this ancient city.
Shangri-La Hotel (B, L)

July 22 - Hangzhou / Eclipse

An easy two-hour drive this morning brings us to Anji, considered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences to be one of the best and longest viewing sites for the 2009 eclipse. This rare event will last five minutes and forty-seven seconds, making this the most magnificent solar phenomenon to be seen in the 21st century!

We return to Hangzhou after lunch and visit the Meijiawu Tea Plantation where we'll meet tea farmers who continue the ancient art of longjing tea cultivation. We'll then tour Lingying Temple, one of the earliest grand Chan Buddhist temples remaining in China today.

Later we will take a sunset cruise on the West Lake. Dinner is at the grand Hu Xue Yan Mansion.
Shangri-La Hotel (B, L, D)

July 23 - Shanghai

After breakfast we drive to Shanghai on the new freeway (2 hours). Upon arrival, we explore Xintiandi in downtown Shanghai. Designed by MIT architect Ben Wood, Xintiandi is a $200 million two-block "entertainment environment" stuffed with modern restaurants, clubs, cafes and boutiques, accessorized with old bricks, stone gates and ornately carved wooden balconies from the dense warren of old courtyard houses that previously filled those blocks. Xintiandi proved so successful a model for urban redevelopment that it spawned dozens of duplicates across the country.

The evening is free. Dinner is on our own.
Royal Le Meridian Hotel (B, L)

July 24 - Shanghai

We will spend the whole morning visiting Shanghai Museum and viewing its wonderful collection of Chinese bronzes, jade, pottery and ceramics, paintings and calligraphy, old coins and furniture.
The afternoon is free for exploration and last-minute shopping.

This evening, we'll enjoy a memorable farewell banquet at the Dingxiang Garden Restaurant, famous for Shanghai cuisine. After dinner, we'll stroll along the Bund, viewing the beautifully decorated colonial buildings along the Huangpu River.
Royal Le Meridian Hotel (B, D)

July 25 - Shanghai / San Francisco or New York

After breakfast we depart for the airport. Our flight returns to San Francisco or New York via Beijing the same day.
(B, meals aloft)

Optional Pre-Tour Extension
Chengde Summer Palace
Beijing • Chengde

Come to China three days prior to the main tour and experience the grandeur of the Qing dynasty Summer Palace at Chengde, within a two-hour drive of Beijing. With a history of more than 300 years, this is one of the great cultural landmarks of all China. The garden complex includes imperial halls, southern-style lake gardens, a hunting area, an area of Mongolian yurts and a wooded hillside with numerous pavilions. Beyond the palace were built eight Buddhist temples, each one architecturally unique, of which five remain. Then, join the tour group on its arrival in Beijing.

July 12/13 - Depart San Francisco or New York – Beijing

Depart U. S. on an international flight to Beijing. Cross the international dateline and arrive in Beijing on the evening of the second day. Meet the tour director at the airport and transfer to the hotel in downtown Beijing. The evening is free for relaxation or personal exploration.
(Meals aloft)

July 14 - Beijing / Chengde

After breakfast at the hotel, depart for Chengde by private car or bus. The ride takes 2 1/2 hours, three quarters of which is on a newly completed expressway. (By fall 2008, the entire expressway will be finished and the drive reduced to two hours.) On the way, view a mountain landscape of austere and rugged peaks, so evocative of China's perennial border struggles with nomadic tribes. Pass beyond the Great Wall at Jinshanling and enter a region few Chinese ever knew; that is, until the reign of the Manchu Qing.

We arrive at Chengde, a flourishing city of north China, and transit to the new Jinbo Holiday Hotel. Chengde is a small city, so we arrive at the Summer Palace within minutes and spend the entire afternoon at the imperial complex.

We'll enter the Summer Palace at Lizheng Gate and explore the Palace Quarter, which consists of nine compounds and courtyards. Here we can immerse ourselves in the political center of imperial life, including Jing Cheng Hall, a massive building constructed entirely of nanmu wood. We'll view the emperor's study, still furnished with the accoutrements of the scholar, as well as Empress Cixi's private bedroom.

Then we stroll to the Lake Area, which is divided into nine lakes defined by dikes and willow-lined paths as in Hangzhou. The three Center Pavilions are modeled on pavilions found on the West Lake. Huandi Island is built up with elegant architecture, and Wenyuan Island looks onto an expanse of Chinese lotuses.

The Qing emperors loved southern Chinese gardens and architecture, and with great inspiration recreated their favorites here. Jin Shan Hall was modeled on its namesake in Zhenjiang, while the miniature universe of Canglang Ting Garden was based on its namesake in Suzhou. One of the most beautiful architectural designs in all China, the Yanyu Tower, was based on that of Jiaxing. The tower has an exquisite setting, overlooking the lovely lake and island shoreline.

We return to the hotel for rest and relaxation before a special dinner banquet.
(B, L, D)

July 15 - Chengde

After breakfast, we take a five-minute ride to Puning Temple, based on the design of Sangye monastery in Tibet. Dozens of Buddhist monks today create a meditative atmosphere in this vast complex. We'll view the Great Hall that has a Guanyin statue 24 meters high, the largest wood sculpture in the world.

Next, we go to nearby Pule Temple, with its beautiful circular design reminiscent of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. This complex was built for the use of Kazak tribes centuries ago. Of note here is the caisson ceiling of Xuguang Pavilion and the erotic Buddhist sculpture on the altar.

After lunch, we return to the Summer Palace for independent exploration. The imperial gardens are a place that requires a curious spirit and ample time. Take an optional one-hour bus ride through the Summer Palace hillside. Stop at several scenic pavilions to take in the valley views. Climb the palace wall for a breathtaking view of the eight outer temples.

Disembark at the yurt area and walk through a plain once dedicated to entertaining Mongolian tribal chiefs. Stroll along paths that return to the garden lakes and discover yet more pavilions and enclosed gardens. Have tea at the Canglang Ting Garden and listen to a Chinese musical performance.
(B, L, D)

July 16 - Chengde / Beijing

After breakfast, we drive to Putuo Zongcheng, a massive complex modeled on Lhasa's Potala palace and built for the Dalai Lama. Red Terrace Hall stuns onlookers with its grand scale, while the Guiyi Hall's golden roof and caisson ceiling are inspiring realizations of the Chinese-Tibetan temple aesthetic.

Then we go on to Ximi Fushou Temple, a complex modeled on Zhaxilhunbu monastery in Tibet. This was built for the Panchen Lama and his eminence stayed here for a period of time.

After lunch we return to Beijing by motorcoach, reaching our hotel in late afternoon. The main group arrives in Beijing at this time. Enjoy a leisurely evening with dinner on our own.
(B, L)

Optional Tour Extension
Yangzi River Cruise
Shanghai • Chongqing • Yangzi River • Shanghai

July 25 - Shanghai / Chongqing

Our extension begins with a flight to Chongqing, the great city in the interior of China. We'll visit General Stilwell's Museum, which presents the allied effort in China during WWII. Later, we explore the lively art scene at the Chongqing Art Galleries. Dinner is at Yangzi Island Restaurant. Following dinner we board the Yangzi Victoria Rose cruise ship.
(B, L, D)

July 26-27 - Yangzi River Cruise

The main focus of the cruise is the extraordinary Three Gorges – the deep valleys and towering mountains carved by the Yangzi River.

Each day there are special excursions on shore, including a visit of the ancient village Shibaozhai and to the breathtaking Lesser Gorge Daninghe.

We'll tour the Three Gorges Dam construction site at Sandouping and sail through the new ship-locks.
(Both days: B, L, D)

July 28 - Yichang / Shanghai

We disembark the ship in Yichang after lunch, and fly to Shanghai in the late afternoon and transit to our hotel.

The evening is free and dinner is on our own.
(B, L)

July 29 - Shanghai / San Francisco or New York

After breakfast we depart for the airport. Our flight returns to San Francisco or New York via Beijing the same day.
(B, meals aloft)

Optional Tour Extension
Huang Mountains & Huizhou Culture
Shanghai / Tunxi / Huang Mountains / Shanghai

July 25 - Shanghai / Tunxi in Anhui province

We depart Shanghai airport on a one-hour fight to Tunxi (Huangshan City) in nearby Anhui province and then transit to our hotel. Anhui boasts an idyllic landscape of rice cultivation unspoiled by industrialization. Unending greenery gives the impression of vast, well-tended parkland.
Accommodations at the International Hotel (B, D)

July 26 - Huizhou Villages

Today we explore the World Heritage Sites of Hong Village and Xidi Village. Wander the lanes of these authentic Ming and Qing dynasty villages that preserve some of China's traditional architecture. We'll enjoy a traditional lunch at a courtyard home, prepared by the proprietors in Anhui style.

Stop by Shexian town, famous for its memorial arches, narrow angular lanes and merchant homes. The old town center of Doushan is noted for its concentration of old homes and stone-lined alleyways.

After dinner visit Laojie Antique Street and its numerous shops, as well as the Wan Cui Lou Museum, which specializes in art from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
(B, L, D)

July 27 & 28- Huangshan/Shanghai

Today we travel by motor coach to Anhui's crown jewels, the Huang Mountains. The staggering beauty of granite precipices emerging from fog banks has intoxicated Chinese artists for centuries. We will travel to the summit by cable car. The elevation is around 4,000 feet, so the altitude should not pose a problem for most travelers. We walk 40 minutes to our hotel and check into modest yet adequate rooms.

Vistas of amazing beauty lie a few minutes from the hotel. The Huang Mountains are famous for seas of clouds swirling around granite peaks that stretch as far as the eye can see. Every direction offers a unique view as can be gathered from the scenic names of the Nine Dragons, Daoist Priest, Ox Nose and Hunchback. Choose between short strolls on nearby paths or longer hikes along the summit ridge.

After dinner, we fly to Shanghai and transit to our hotel.
(B, L, D)

July29 - Shanghai / San Francisco or New York

After breakfast we depart for the airport. Our flight returns to San Francisco or New York via Beijing the same day.
(B, meals aloft)

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Program Fees

Per passenger, based upon double occupancy:

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How To Register

The best way to do this is by phone so that we can ensure we are meeting all of your needs. Please call us at 866-765-2646. Or e-mail with your contact information and the best time to reach you.

The programs and tour arrangements are designed by China Advocates, a San Francisco firm specializing in upscale China travel.

A deposit of $700 per person is required to reserve your spot. Final invoicing will be done approximately 3 months (April 16, 2009) prior to departure. Final payment is due 75 days (May 1, 2009) prior to departure.

Deposit can be paid by credit card (Visa or MasterCard). Balance must be paid by check. Make check payable to China Advocates.

Early registration is encouraged as space is limited.

Main Tour Cost Includes:

Double occupancy accommodations in centrally located, first-class hotels
All meals, except three dinners and one lunch, at fine Chinese restaurants specializing
in regional cuisines or in private homes
All air and ground transportation within China
All sightseeing, entertainment, and cultural activities listed in the itinerary
All transfers and porterage
Chinese airport taxes
English-speaking Chinese national and local tour guides
Gratuities to local guides and drivers

Not Included: 
International airfare to and from China
Visa processing
Tipping to national tour escort
Excess baggage charges
Travel insurance
Three dinners and one lunch
Items of a personal nature

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General Terms & Conditions

Travel in China: China's tourism industry has improved dramatically over the last decade. However, air and land transportation and other facilities may not always meet international standards.  In addition, your hosts want to show you as much of their country as possible, so the schedule will be demanding with moderate physical activity. Travel in China requires good physical condition and health (special needs must be arranged for in advance and may result in additional costs), a spirit of adventure, a flexible attitude and a sense of humor. The itinerary is subject to change and modification. Every effort will be made to carry out the program as planned, but alterations may still occur. Participants should be aware that no refunds will be made as a result of unforeseen changes, modifications, or delays.

Meals: China offers a wide variety of dining experiences and this program will take advantage of a broad range of Chinese food including Shanghainese, Hunan, Sichuan, Cantonese, and Imperial Palace regional cuisines. Special diets are not possible, except to the extent one picks and chooses from the many dishes served.


Reservations: Bookings are subject to the terms and conditions mentioned in these sections. A contract has been entered into as soon as your booking is received and accepted. To confirm the reservation, a deposit of $700 per person is required.

Group Air:  Group air is for a minimum of 10 passengers flying out and back together. With less than 10 passengers the price will be adjusted based on what the current airfare is and will be purchased on an individual ticketing basis. Please note that for any additional and individual air bookings, all sales are final with no exchanges or refunds.

Cancellations: Tour cancellations must be made in writing to China Advocates, Inc., as soon as possible. Cancellation penalties based on the date of receipt of written notice are as follows: 76 or more days prior to departure, a cancellation fee of $400 per person is retained; 75-46 days prior to departure, $1500 per person; 45-31 days prior to departure, $2500 per person; 30-0 days prior to departure, no refund is made.

Cancellation penalties for air upgrades, additional hotel nights, hotel and cruise ship room upgrades, tour extensions and any special arrangements, are as follows: 50-31 days prior to departure, 25% of cost; 30-0 days prior to departure, no refund is made.

Responsibilities: China Advocates, Inc. and the University of Virginia Alumni Association act only as agents for the various carriers for which tickets are provided and assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with the service of any train, vessel, carriage, aircraft, motor vehicle or other conveyance which may be used either wholly or in part, in the performance of their duty to the passenger. Neither will they be responsible for any act, error, or omission or for any injury, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned by a reason of any defect in any vehicles, or through neglect or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger, or for any hotel proprietor, hotel service or restaurant, or for any other person engaged in carrying out the purpose for which tickets or coupons are issued. In the event it becomes necessary or advisable for the comfort or well being of the passengers, or for any reason whatsoever, to alter itinerary or arrangements, such alterations may be made without penalty to the operators. The right is reserved to withdraw any or all tours should conditions warrant, also to decline to accept or retain any passengers as members for the tours. In such instances, full or equitable amounts will be refunded. Refunds for unused carrier tickets may be only in accordance with the regulations of the carrier. CST 2064278-40. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California. All legal questions will be settled within the jurisdiction of the County of San Francisco, California.

Documentation: To obtain a Chinese visa, a passport is required that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the duration of the tour.

Trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended and available. You will receive travel insurance information once you are confirmed on the program.

Itinerary is subject to modification.

Prices are current as of September 2008 and are subject to change without notice.

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