December is the perfect time to go to China when the trip is south of the Yangtze River. Travel in the warmth and sun of South China from Shanghai to China’s greatest beauty spots and gardens (Suzhou, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, and Ningbo), the great capital Nanjing, the commercial seaport Guangzhou (Canton) and off-the-beaten-track Huizhou and Guiyang, with long-time SAH member and Chinese architectural historian Nancy Steinhardt
. This twelve-day trip will offer an in-depth view of South China’s cities, buildings, and sites through the course of two millennia. In addition to the buildings and museums on every tourist itinerary, we will visit UNESCO and World Heritage sites, a second-century BCE tomb, a glass pagoda, churches, a mosque, a rare example of “beamless” construction, memorials to Sun Yat-sen, sixteenth-century merchant residences, nineteenth-century European residences, and a Dong drum tower, and we will meet practicing architect-architectural historians. Steinhardt will lecture throughout the Field Seminar. A four-day, optional extension into Myanmar is available and participants will see every major secular and religious building in the country's two main cities, as well as rare examples of in situ murals.
This SAH Field Seminar itinerary features the major sites within each city as well as many places that would almost never be included on a standard tour, such as the Twin Pagodas and Ruiguang Pagoda in Suzhou, Pearl Buck's house in Zhenjiang, Han tombs in Yangzhou, the Pearl Buck house and Yan Tingbao architecture in Nanjing, Six Dynasties Museum in Nanjing, Southern Tang tombs and St. Joseph's Cathedral in Nanjing, residential architecture of Huizhou, Hu Xueyuan House and Silk Museum in Hangzhou, Baoguo Monastery in Ningbo, sites in Guizhou, Nanyue King tomb in Guangzhou, and Shamiam Island. All accommodations are at 4-star hotels.
DAY 1 Dec 26 Tuesday depart USA or other home location
Fly non-stop across the North Pacific and the International Dateline to Shanghai, the metropolitan economic center of China.
DAY 2 Dec 27 Wednesday arrive SHANGHAI (D)
Arrive in Shanghai's Pudong International Airport by any of several flights at approximately 4 PM. After clearing entry procedures, luggage claim and customs, be met and take the magnetic levitation train [Mag-Lev]. The Mag-Lev train is the first commercially operated high-speed magnetic levitation line in the world. Construction started in 2001 and operations began in 2004. Operational speed of this train is 431 km/h (268 mph), making it the world's fastest train in regular commercial service. The distance from the airport to the terminus is about 35 km and the trip takes approximately seven minutes. Continue by coach to the historic Astor House Hotel. The hotel was originally built in 1846 and subsequently added to in 1858 and 1907. It was the first hotel in China to have electricity; the first hotel in Asia to be air cooled and it had the first telephone in China. Renovated to it’s original Baroque and Neoclassical Victorian architectural style in 2004, its decor memorializes famous past guests including: Ulysses S. Grant, George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein, and Charlie Chaplin. In 1990 the ballroom was used for Shanghai’s first stock exchange since 1949. After check-in have dinner at a local restaurant and take a local walking night tour on the Bund.
DAY 3 Dec 28 Thursday SHANGHAI (B, L, D)
Take a walking tour along the historic Bund, (riverfront). There are at least 52 buildings from the 19th and early 20th century that represent the iconic architecture of banking and trade in Shanghai of that time period. Many are Art Deco as well as Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical and Beaux-Arts styles. These include Sassoon House, The Customs House, The HSBC Building, Great Northern Telegraph Building and The Shanghai Club. From the Bund, the skyline of modern Shanghai dominates the other side of the river. Continue by taking the ferry from the Jinling Road Wharf across the river to Lujiazui, the current financial center of Shanghai. Visit 100th floor observatory of the Shanghai World Financial Center, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox and completed in 2008. It is a mixed-use building with offices, a hotel, conference rooms, observation decks, and shopping malls. Park Hyatt Shanghai is the tower's hotel using the 79th to the 93rd floor. At the time it opened it was the 8th tallest building in the world. Also see the Jin Mao Tower, designed by SOM and completed in 1999. After lunch visit the Shanghai Museum, opened in 1996 with a design by by local architect Xing Tonghe. Later tour the Jewish Quarter including the Ohel Moshe Synagogue, now a museum. Have dinner and return to the hotel.
DAY 4 Dec 29 Friday SHANGHAI/SUZHOU (B, L, D)
After breakfast check-out of the hotel and drive to the water town of Zhujiajiao. See traditional canal and courtyard houses. There are over 30 small bridges built of stone, wood and marble dating from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. There is also the dramatic Qingpu Pedestrian Bridge, designed by the CA-Group, competed in 2008. Continue by coach to Suzhou. Stay off an old-town alleyway at the Pingjiang Lodge, a traditional Chinese-style hotel converted from a Ming Dynasty mansion that once belonged to the Fang family. The complex includes wooden pillars and walled garden areas. Have lunch and then tour to the new Suzhou Museum, designed by I.M. Pei and opened in 2006. Explore the adjacent Humble Administrator’s Garden and then visit The Temple of Mystery, (Xuan Miao Guan), a Taoist temple dating from 3rd century A.D., now a bazaar area with many vendors, the shrines still have interest although much of the Song Dynasty statuary was destroyed by the Red Guards and replicated in the last 30 years. Have dinner in the hotel.
DAY 5 Dec 30 Saturday SUZHOU/NANJING (B, L)
Start the day with a visit to Luohanyuan Temple to see the Twin Pagodas, built in the Song Dynasty (in 982AD). Then stop at the Garden of the Fisherman’s Nets. Next see the Pagoda of Auspicious Light (Ruiguang), the earliest Buddhist pagoda in Suzhou. It was originally built in 240 A.D. as a 13-story tower and reconstructed in about 1120 A.D as a 7-story building. Repair in 1978 uncovered an area of stored relics which are now housed in the Suzhou Museum. Drive to Zhenjiang, a treaty-port city on the Yangste River. Have lunch and then tour to see 19th century British houses including the home of writer Pearl Buck. Continue to Nanjing and stay at the Mandarin Garden Hotel. Dinner tonight is on your own. Fuzimiao, (Confucius Temple), is a short walk from the hotel with many dining options.
DAY 6 Dec 31 Sunday YANGZHOU (B, L, D)
Drive to Yangzhou, a city on the Grand Canal that dates from about 485 BC. Structures and museums here cover 2500 years of dynastic China. See the Museum of Han Guangling, known for pre-Buddhist Han Dynasty tombs. The modern museum buildings were built directly over 2000 year old wood tombs that are about 24 meters underground. Also stop to see the remains of the Tang Dynasty city wall including a pair of Palace Watch Towers. Have lunch featuring Yangzhou cuisine. Yangzhou was center of the salt trade and during the Yuan Dynasty it is purported that Marco Polo was appointed as a local official. Visit the Ge Garden, a well preserved private garden which dates originally from the 14th Century before returning to Nanjing. Dinner is at a local Nanjing restaurant.
DAY 7 Jan 1 Monday NANJING (B, L)
Tour to the Mausoleum of Dr Sun Yat Sen, the founder of the Republic of China, this complex was completed in 1929. The architect was Lu Yanzhi and its scenic location is at the base of the Purple Mountains. Nearby is Xiaoling Mausoleum, the tomb of the first Ming Dynasty Emperor, completed in 1431. Most interesting in the same area is Linggu Temple, built in the Liang Dynasty (502-557). It was constructed without any wood and is therefore known as the ‘Beamless Hall’. It was once one of the busiest Buddhist Temples with as many as 1000 monks and is still active now. Lunch is requested at Shensong House, a vegetarian restaurant located in the temple. Take a walking tour to see Pearl Buck’s house when she was on the university faculty and Yang Tingbao architecture designed buildings. Also visit the Six Dynasties Museum, designed by the Pei Partnership and opened in 2014. Dinner tonight is on your own.
DAY 8 Jan 2 Tuesday NANJING/TUNXI (B, L, D)
This morning go to Nanjing’s southern suburbs to see the Southern Tang Tombs. Consisting of two sites, Qinling Mausoleum was built in 943 AD and Shunling Mausoleum was built in 961 AD. Only about 50 meters apart, these were officially discovered in 1950 after ancient artifacts were discovered for sale in Nanjing’s antique markets. Most of the funerary objects from these sites were looted and never recovered but the structures were intact and have been restored under the auspices of the Nanjing Museum. This afternoon take a train to Wuhu. Stop to see St Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral, established in 1883 and built by French Jesuits. Continue by coach to the Tunxi area to overnight at the Huangshan International Hotel. Dinner tonight is in the ‘Old Street’ area featuring local Anhui cuisine.
DAY 9 Jan 3 Wednesday TUNXI/HANGZHOU (B, L, D)
This morning visit the Huizhou Culture Museum located near the airport in Tunxi. Then drive to Yixian and visit houses in the villages of Hongcun, Xidi and Nanping. These distinctive houses were background in the film, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’. The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA has a permanent exhibit featuring Yin Yu Tang (Hall of Plentiful Shelter), an 18th-century house from this region. Drive to Hangzhou and check-in to the Wuyang Holiday Hotel.
DAY 10 Jan 4 Thursday HANGZHOU (B, L, D)
Tour this morning to the Hu Xueyan House. Hu Xueyan, (1823-1885), was a local celebrity in Hangzhou during the late Qing dynasty. His residence was initially constructed over 3 years starting in 1872. The architectural style features an example of the magnificent residences of the late Qing Dynasty. It is hidden behind white walls in the heart of a modern city with a population of over 21 million. Hangzhou’s traditional center is West Lake. Drive past the lake and visit the China National Silk Museum before taking a day trip to Ningbo, one of China's oldest cities, with a history dating to the Hemudu culture in 4800 BC. Visit the Tianyi Pavilion, the oldest existing library in China. Founded in 1561 during the Ming dynasty. At one time it had a collection of 70,000 volumes of antique books, some dating from the 11th century. Also tour Baoguo Temple, a Mahayana Buddhist temple, is the oldest intact wooden structure in eastern China. It was founded before 880 A.D and the intact main hall dates back to 1013 A.D. Originally built in the year AD 975, its wood components were burned by Japanese pirates in the Ming Dynasty and the current 5-story, octagonal tower was rebuilt in 1924. Return to modern China with a tour the Hangzhou International Conference Center, completed in 2008 from plans by Master Architect Xia Bangjie and GS (Garden State) Design Co., Ltd. This hall hosted the G20 Economic Summit in September 2016.
DAY 11 Jan 5 Friday HANGZHOU/GUIYANG (B, L, D)
This morning fly to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province. Have lunch and then drive to the Qingyan Ancient Town. This town was originally built in 1378 when the Ming Dynasty expanded to the more remote areas of China. It was built for military reasons. Because of its geographical location, Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of Ming Dynasty established it as a station for transferring military messages and to house a standing army. As a separate enclave from the many minority nationalities in Quizhou, its architecture, local dialect and traditions are distinctly related to the Ming period. The geology of the area resulted in buildings made of stone with an inner and outer walled town. Religious culture here is rich, including Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism and Christianity. Visit sites including Ciyun Temple, the wood sculptures of Shoufo Temple a Heritage Museum and Batik Art Galleries. Mixed among the many stone structures are many 2 story wood houses unique to Southwest China. Return to Guiyang and stay at the Novotel Hotel.
DAY 12 Jan 6 Saturday GUIYANG/GUANGZHOU (B, L, D)
This morning visit Jiaxiu Tower, also called the First Scholar's Tower. It is situated on Fuyu Bridge over the Nanming River. Then fly to Guangzhou. On arrival be met and visit the Museum of the Western Han Dynasty Mausoleum of the Nanyue King. This site was discovered in 1983 and dates from the Han Dynasty (206 BC–24AD). The museum houses an extensive collection of jade artifacts, pottery, and porcelain. The ancient tomb is a separate part of the complex which includes exhibits of the development of the culture in the area. From here visit Sacred Heart Cathedral. Designed by two French architects, it was built by Chinese labor over 25 years from 1863 to 1888. It is one of only four all-granite Gothic churches in the world. It is still very active as a Catholic center and is sometimes called the ‘Notre-Dame of the East.’ Overnight on Shamian Island at the Guangdong Victory Hotel. Shamian Island was the center of sea trade dating back to the Song Dynasty. After the 1st Opium War, it became an enclave for the International community. It features a broad example of European architecture with over 40 preserved and restored examples of Gothic, Baroque, and Neoclassical design. Have a farewell dinner at local restaurant.
DAY 13 Jan 7 Sunday GUANGZHOU/USA (B)
Transfer for the morning flight to Hong Kong. Same day connections back to Europe, the United States, and other destinations are possible on most airlines. An extension stay in Hong Kong on one's own is also an option or an SAH-organized extension to Myanmar is available. Details are below.
DAY 13 Jan 7 Sunday GUANGZHOU/YANGON (B, D)
Fly to Yangon today arriving in the early evening. After entry procedures, be met by the National Guide for Myanmar, and tour the Shwedagon Pagoda, a highlight of any visit to Yangon. This pagoda towers over the city and is the most sacred spot in the country, built to house eight hair relics of the Buddha. Shwedagon is particularly beautiful during the sunset hour, as the golden stupa reflects the changing colors of twilight. Then have dinner and transfer to the Hotel Grand United Ahlone Branch.
DAY 14 Jan 8 Monday YANGON (B, L, D)
After breakfast pickup and depart for a full-day exploration of the ex- capital of Burma. Yangon is in the fertile delta of Myanmar, on the wide Yangon River. Take a walking tour including the George Orwell Literary Walk. See British Colonial buildings such as the Strand Hotel with a stop for Classical High Tea. Also see City Hall and the High Court (viewing from the outside only) as well as former secretariat buildings that were part of Rangoon's era as capital of the Burmese Union. Tour Sule Pagoda, 48-meter high golden dome which was used by the British to establish the center point of the grid pattern of the city when rebuilt in the 1880s. This pagoda has a unique octagonal stupa that tapers up to the spire. Lunch en route at a local restaurant. Then this afternoon, you will visit the Kandawgyi (Royal) Lake—one of two lakes in Yangon—on which the Karaweik Hall, a sort of royal barge is. From this place you can shoot gorgeous photos of the pagoda over the lake and the famous Shwedagon. Also go to Botataung Pagoda, named for the military leaders who escorted relics of the Buddha brought from India 2000 years ago. Completely destroyed during WWII, it has been rebuilt in a similar style.
Dinner is at a local restaurant then transfer back to the hotel.
DAY 15 Jan 9 Tuesday YANGON/BAGAN (B, L, D)
Morning flight to Bagan. Transfer to the Thazin Garden Hotel. Habitation at Bagan dates back almost to the beginning of the Christian era and entered its golden period in 1057 AD. This was when Schwezigon Pagoda was built by King Anawrahta to enshrine some relics of Buddha. Highlights of Bagan include Gubyaukhyi Temple at Wetkyi-Inn, dating from the early 13th century with great colorful paintings about the previous life of Buddha and noted for its panoramic view of the area's numerous monuments; Ananda Pahto, one of the best preserved of the Bagan temples; and Manyha Temple. Lunch en route at a local restaurant. In the afternoon learn of manufacturing Myanmar's most treasured handicrafts with a visit to a lacquer ware craftsmen's workshop in a nearby village. Later continue to Manuha Temple, built in Mon style in 1059 and explore the Myingaba San Daw Pagoda, a temple known for its famous UNESCO protected mural paintings. Finish the day of sightseeing by watching sunset over Myanmar's longest river, Ayeyarwaddy, from the Shwe San Daw Pagoda. Dinner at local restaurant.
DAY 16 Jan 10 Wednesday BAGAN (B, L, D)
After breakfast, visit the site of Sulamani, one of Bagan's great two-storied Bamar style Temples that has 4 seated Buddha images; Lemyethna Temple, topped by an Indian-style spire similar to Ananda. Then the three shrines of Payathonzu (if open), which are connected by passages adorned with Mahayanist or Tantric mural paintings and Nandamanya Temples noted for exquisite murals of 13th century. Bagan is not only the site of thousand-year-old temples and pagodas, but also of many quaint villages scattered throughout the temple plain. Visit the village of Minnanthu to see how the local people live. In the afternoon get on a horse cart and venture out to some of the more off-the-beaten track temples and pagodas. We don't follow the trotted trails but take you over dusty roads and small paths through one thousand years of history. See Abeyadana Temple with frescoes representing Bodhisattvas and the gods of Indian mythology; Nanbaya Temple, a unique sandstone monument said to have been the palace of King Manuha and Myazedi Stupa to see Myanmar's "Rosetta Stone," bearing inscriptions written in four languages. Return to hotel by horse cart. Both lunch and dinner are at local restaurants.
DAY 17 Jan 11 Thursday depart MYANMAR (B)
Option A) Fly Bagan to Yangon connecting on to Bangkok for an overnight at an airport hotel.
Option B) Fly Bagan to Yangon connecting on to Tokyo.
DAY 18 Jan 12 Friday return to USA or home country (B)
Option A) Fly on a 7 AM flight from Bangkok via Tokyo back to the US or home location on any of several flights.
Option B) Arrive early in the morning at Tokyo’s Narita Airport. Change planes and continue on to the US or home country on any of several flights.