Celebrate the Taiwan Lantern Festival, one of the most spectacular Lunar New Year festivals in the world. And 2014, the Year of the Horse, promises to be especially exciting. Liam Mayclem of KCBS radio’s Foodie Chap and Eye on the Bay TV show will host this AAA EXCLUSIVE itinerary. See the festivities up close as you join dignitaries and Taiwan’s president in a VIP viewing area plus get an inside look into the island’s ancient culture as you sample local cuisine, tour top attractions and more!
• Exclusive: Hosted by CBS TV & Radio personality Liam Mayclem of Foodie Chap.
• Exclusive: Enjoy VIP seating at the 2014 Taiwan Lantern Festival.
• Take private tours of a working tea farm and a Buddhist monastery.
Hosted by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, the Taiwan Lantern Festival is held annually on the 15th day of the first lunar month. The festival marks the grand finale of the Lunar New Year season and is celebrated with fanfare by families all across Taiwan. Firecrackers, fireworks, hand lanterns and torches all traditionally liven up the festivities as people welcome the New Year in a spirit of peace, prosperity and joy. Since its inception in 1990, the festival has become a unique world-class event on par with the Munich Oktoberfest in Germany, Hokkaido Snow Festival in Japan and Brazil's Carnival.
Join TV and radio personality Liam Mayclem of Foodie Chap and Eye on the Bay as he hosts this exclusive AAA Sojourns vacation that includes VIP Diplomatic Access and Seating to the 2014 Lantern Festival. Along with other VIP guests, witness first-hand the President of Taiwan light the Main Theme Lantern based on the Chinese zodiac animal for the new year; in 2014, it will be the Year of the Horse. In the daylight, the lantern is an impressive work of landscape art but at night, it transforms into a beautiful giant lantern. This Main Lantern is complemented by secondary lanterns and areas highlighting different decorative lantern themes, creating a magical atmosphere. You'll also be in a prime spot to watch the performances and festivities.
Other highlights include a city tour of Taipei and a visit to the Antique Assam Tea Farm to learn about the history and current production of black tea. Enjoy the air of tranquility over pristine Sun Moon Lake, where you'll breathe in the pure mountain air. Take a behind-the-scenes, monk-led tour of the impressive Chung Tai Chan Monastery and learn how to make spring rolls and dumplings at a culinary class. Then fly to Hong Kong, where neon signs, dim sum and amazing temples blend seamlessly in this ultramodern city. Explore the city's main attractions on a guided tour that includes a tram ride to the top of Victoria Peak for breathtaking views of the city and harbor.
• Round-trip airfare from SFO plus one-way flight from Taipei to Hong Kong
• 7 nights in 4-star and 5-star hotels: 2 night in Taipeis, 2 nights in Sun Moon Lake and 3 nights in Hong Kong
• Daily breakfast, 6 lunches and 3 dinners
• Accompanied by tour host CBS TV & radio personality Liam Mayclem of Foodie Chap and Eye on the Bay
• VIP Diplomatic Access and Seating to the 2014 Taiwan Lantern Festival
• Exclusive tour of Chung Tai Chan Monastery, private Assam Tea Farm tour and city tours of Taipei and Hong Kong
• All on-tour land transportation with driver and English-speaking guides
• All airport/hotel transfers
Day 1 – Depart for Taiwan
Embark on your journey to Taiwan from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Your group will meet at the airport approximately three hours prior to departure.
Day 2 – Cross the International Dateline
Day 3 – Arrive Taipei, Taiwan
Arrive in Taiwan where you will be greeted upon arrival and transferred to your hotel for check in. Enjoy a buffet breakfast then spend time exploring or relaxing in your room. In the early afternoon, visit the Chiang-Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and the TAIPEI 101 Observatory. Formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center, TAIPEI 101 is the largest engineering project ever in the history of Taiwanese construction. At a late lunch, savor Shanghai style dumplings at the award-winning Din Tai Fung Restaurant’s then enjoy a foot massage at Kin Raku Massage. In the evening, visit the Shilin Night Market, the largest and most famous night market in the city.
Accommodation: The Grand Hotel, 4 star - 1 night
Day 4 – Taichung and Sun Moon Lake
After a buffet breakfast, check out of the hotel. Please bring your own hand bags or small luggage and leave heavy luggage at Grand Hotel’s storage. Meet your tour escort in the hotel lobby and transfer to the Taipei High Speed Railway Station to depart for Taichung. Upon arrival, take a motor coach tour of Taichung’s top attractions followed by lunch at Ma Gai Dan Restaurant. Later, cruise to Lalu Island on Sun Moon Lake. The island is sacred to the Ida-Thao Tribe, an aboriginal people of the region. Enjoy an Asian buffet dinner at the hotel followed by an evening of leisure.
Accommodation: Fleur De Chine, 4 star – 2 nights
Day 5 – Tea Farm and Monastery / Lantern Festival in Nantou County
Meet your tour escort and travel to Puli, a town in central Taiwan home to the Chung Tai Buddhist Monastery Here you’ll enjoy an exclusive tour. Then visit the Assam Tea Farm for a private tea journey. This is a great place to learn about the history and current production of black tea in Taiwan. It’s essentially a hybrid tea farm, factory, retail store and restaurant.
Later, return to the hotel for lunch and rest before leaving for Nantou County to attend the Lantern Festival at Chung Hsing Village, the Lantern Festival’s 2014 host town. Meet the representative from the Taiwan Tourism and receive VIP access to the Lighting Ceremony for the 2014 Lantern Festival.
Note the festival dress code: Business casual (no jeans) with layers and comfortable walking shoes. There will also be a security examination. Everyone attending the festival has to walk through a security door and all bags, purses, etc. are subject to search. The President of Taiwan will be on the same stage as the VIPs to witness the lighting of the lanterns. All VIPs will be provided with a pass badge. Normally, once you get on the stage, it will be difficult to leave once the ceremony is underway. Please remember to wear your pass badge at all times for security examination.
Day 6 – Taipei
Enjoy a buffet breakfast at hotel. Please leave your luggage at designated place in the lobby to be delivered to the Palais de Chine Hotel in Taipei. Meet your tour escort in the lobby and depart for Taipei via Taichung High Speed Rail. Upon arrival to Taipei visit the Martyrs’ Shrine and see the Honor Guards’ "changing of the guards" ceremony. Lunch at Silks Palace Restaurant and visit the National Palace Museum. Arrive at your hotel for check in. Your checked luggage will be delivered directly to your room. Dinner tonight is at the Taipei Fish Market Restaurant.
Accommodation: Palais de Chine Hotel, 4 star - 1 night
Day 7 – Cooking Class / Hong Kong
Enjoy a buffet breakfast at the hotel followed by check out. Spend the morning at Wei-Chuan Cultural-Educational Foundation where you’ll attend a culinary class. Learn how to make spring rolls and dumplings and get tips on food tasting and do-it-yourself techniques. After lunch, visit Lung Shan Temple and Herbal Street then board your flight for Hong Kong. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel by your English speaking guide. The rest of the evening is free.
Accommodation: The Mira Hotel, 5 star - 3 nights
Day 8 – Hong Kong Sights
After breakfast at the hotel, a morning tour begins at Stanley market. It is a well-known bargain hunter paradise for a wide range of merchandise. Make a brief stop at Aberdeen where you’ll take a detour on a sampan, or water taxi, to explore the canals of this small fishing village. Enjoy a dim sum lunch then venture up Victoria Peak for a panoramic view of the stunning skyline and Hong Kong harbor. Conclude your sightseeing with a funicular ride and a tour at the Maritime Museum. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 9 – Hong Kong
Today is free to explore Hong Kong at your leisure. In the evening, meet the group at the hotel for a Farewell Cocktail Reception.
Day 10 – Depart Hong Kong
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.
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