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Hosted by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, the Taiwan Lantern Festival is held each year 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.
This AAA Sojourns EXCLUSIVE departure includes VIP Diplomatic Access and Seating to the 2015 Lantern Festival. Along with other VIP guests and dignitaries, you'll witness first-hand the President of Taiwan light the Main Theme Lantern based on the Chinese zodiac animal for the new year; in 2015, it will be the Year of the Sheep.
In the daylight, the Main Theme 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. As Charlene Paulson, AAA Member from St. Helena, CA recalls from the 2013 festival, "They shut off the city lights and all you could see were the glowing lanterns. You could feel the crowd’s excitement—thousands of locals who were so proud to be part of the celebration."
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 and take a behind-the-scenes, monk-led tour of the impressive Chung Tai Chan Monastery. Then fly to Hong Kong, where neon signs, dim sum and amazing temples blend seamlessly in this ultramodern city. Explore Hong Kong's main attractions on a guided tour that includes a tram ride to the top of Victoria Peak for breathtaking views of the city harbor.
• Airfare - Round-trip airfare from San Francisco plus one-way flight from Taiwan to Hong Kong via Eva Airways
• 7 nights in 4 & 5-star hotels: 4 nights in Taiwan and 3 in Hong Kong
• Meals - Daily breakfast, 5 lunches and 3 dinners
• EXCLUSIVE VIP Diplomatic Access and Seating to the 2015 Taiwan Lantern Festival
• Land transportation with driver and English-speaking guides
• Sights - Tour of Chung Tai Chan Monastery, private Assam Tea Farm tour and city tours of Taipei and Hong Kong
Day 1 - Depart for Taiwan
Embark on your journey to Taiwan from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Check-in and meet your group at approximately 9:30pm, three hours prior to departure.
Day 2 - Cross the International Dateline
Flight departs just after midnight tonight, March 3 at 12:15 am.
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 afternoon, enjoy a foot massage at Kin Raku Massage and later head to Taipei Fish Market Restaurant for a welcome dinner.
Accommodation: The Grand Hotel, 4 star - 1 night
Day 4 - Taichung Lantern Festival
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 proceed to the Martyrs’ Shrine to see the Honor Guards’ "changing of the guards" ceremony. Lunch at Silks Palace Restaurant and visit the National Palace Museum.
Continue by rail to Taichung where you’ll check-in to your hotel with some time to rest and relax. This evening, attend the Lantern Festival at Wu Ryh in Taichung CIty. Meet the representative from Taiwan Tourism and receive VIP access to the Lighting Ceremony for the 2015 Lantern Festival.
Accommodation: Hotel One, 4 star - 1 night
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 5 - Monastery and Tea Farm then on to Sun Moon Lake
After an early breakfast at the hotel meet your tour escort and travel to Puli, a town in central Taiwan to visit Chung Tai Buddhist Monastery for 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.
Enjoy lunch at Ma Gai Dan Restaurant before boarding a motor boat 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 - 1 night
Day 6 - Taipei
Enjoy a buffet breakfast at the 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 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. Savor a lunch of Shanghai style dumplings at the award-winning Din Tai Fung Restaurant. After, check-in to the hotel and explore the city of Taipei on your own. You may also want to take an optional visit the Shilin Night Market with your tour escort. Dinner is on your own tonight.
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, 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: Hotel Nikko, 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’s 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.
Limitations & Restrictions
*Prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to availability at time of booking, and may change without notice. Single supplement may apply. Except for packages including air transportation, unless stated otherwise, airfare, taxes and government fees are not included. Offers valid for new bookings only. Member Benefits are per person and apply to first and second traveler only. Member Benefits are available only with advertised fare and are subject to change without notice. Your travel arrangements may be modified or canceled subject to the travel providers’ policies. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. We make every effort for accuracy at time of printing but reserve the right to correct errors. AAA Travel strongly recommends the purchase of trip protection insurance. Except for packages including air transportation, fares may not reflect additional fuel supplement or port charges and vary by provider.
CST #1003968-80. Registration as seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.