There are some cultural events that you really have got to see to believe: Carnival in Rio or Salvador de Bahia, Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Oktoberfest in Munich, a Super Bowl. Among these greatest hits is Chinese New Year in Hong Kong. The Year of the Pig and its attendant celebrations don't begin until February 18, 2007, but you better book now if you want a flight or a place to sleep.
There are few big cultural events that deserve celebration within that culture. That have earned the right over hundreds of years to provoke travel. The Carnival in Rio or Salvador de Bahia. Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The Oktoberfest in Munich. An event that can't be excluded from that list, especially now with the emergence of its economic superiority, is the Chinese New Year in Beijing or Shanghai. With the Year of the Pig falling on February 18, 2007, let the celebration begin, but you better book now.
Pleasant Holidays (tel. 800/742-9244; www.pleasantholidays.com) has been organizing New Year's packages to China for the past twelve years. This year, it's offering three tiers of Hong Kong-focused trips. Of its three New Year's packages, the Silk Vacation is the cheapest, starting at $1,199. The five-night package includes roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles to Hong Kong and five nights' accommodations at the Harbour Plaza Metropolis, a deluxe hotel. For just $99 more per person, you can get roundtrip airport transfers in Hong Kong, a half-day Hong Kong Island tour with a sampan ride and a trip to Victoria's Peak, and special V.I.P. bleacher passes to the International Chinese New Year's Parade.
The more expensive Pearl Vacation starts at $1,499 and offers a choice of some of Hong Kong's luxurious hotels, including the Kowloon, the Sheraton Hong Kong and the very luxurious Mandarin Oriental. The Pearl is a six-night package that includes the aforementioned V.I.P. passes, daily breakfast and a host of passes to cultural events around the city. Lastly, the Jade package offers all the extras of the Pearl but with other amenities thrown in such as dinners and airport transfers in a Mercedes Benz. Air departures for all of these packages are out of L.A., San Francisco, Seattle or Honolulu. Prices do not include taxes and airport fees.
Gate One Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gateonetravel.com) also offers annual trips around Chinese New Year. A seven-day trip to Hong Kong scheduled around the celebration starts at $1,069 with departures leaving on February 14, 15, and 16, 2007. The Gate One package includes roundtrip from L.A., airline fuel charges, five nights' accommodations at three-star hotels and above and a free buffet breakfast daily. Additional excursions include a $45 hour and a half trip that takes travelers to the Tamar site of the parade on Hong Kong Island in the Admirality section of the city. Because the New Year's celebration lasts longer than the one evening of the Parade, another excursion takes visitors to a New Year's horse racing event at the Shatin Racecourse, where you'll spend eight hours in the upscale Visitors Box (pack a suit or a dress). This excursion costs $118 on January 31, 2006 and $133 on February 20, 2006. Air taxes and security fees are not included in the package price.
Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has a New Year's special for $1,159 that you need to book by October 5, 2006 for travel from February 15, 2007. The package includes daily breakfast, roundtrip air from L.A. with a tiered choice of hotels. The Hong Kong experience begins with a parade and a food and culture-centric excursion.
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