Laozi Pilgrimage: Discover the Dao

June 9-25, 2011

Join Daoist Studies professors Livia Kohn and Robin Wang on an exciting tour to the main sanctuaries of the Daoist religion, following in the footsteps of the ancient sage Laozi’s legendary travels. Visit major temples, hike on famous mountains, practice qigong, soak in hot tubs, and enjoy relaxing massages.

  • Day 1 (Thu). Transit. Depart the US. Book your flight to Beijing according to your own convenience. Make sure you have a valid Chinese visa in your passport.
  • Day 2 (Fri). Arrival. Fly into Beijing and transfer to your hotel. Meet your fellow travelers and enjoy a welcome banquet.
  • Day 3 (Sat). White Cloud Temple and Long Life Spa. After qigong in the morning and a sumptuous breakfast, visit the current headquarters of Daoism in the heart of the city and see Laozi in his full glory as member of the Three Pure Ones, the Daoist trinity. Learn about the history of the temple, the main features of the Complete Perfection school and its complex pantheon. Understand how Laozi functions as a major deity of the religion. After lunch, go to the Daoist Long Life Spa near the Altar of Heaven and let yourself be pampered with a relaxing foot massage, facial, or body soak. Enjoy a Daoist dinner in a near-by restaurant.
  • Day 4 (Sun). Train to Zhengzhou. Travel for about five hours by train to Zhengzhou in Henan, the province at the heart of Chinese civilization. Arrive at the hotel and relax, catch up on sleep, do some reading, and maybe go for another massage. Dinner on your own.
  • Day 5 (Mon). Birthplace. Visit Laozi’s birthplace in Luyi, about 2 hours southeast of Zhengzhou. Learn about the history of the place, unravel the early legends surrounding the ancient sage, admire the steles and temple buildings in this holy site. After lunch, on the way back, stop at the birthplace of the Yellow Emperor in Xinbian, about 45 minutes south of Zhengzhou. Appreciate the development of this legendary figure and his increasing role in shaping Chinese identity today. Join us for dinner and relax.
  • Day 6 (Tue). Luoyang. Travely by bus for two hours. After check-in, visit the fabulous  Longmen caves and understand the Buddhist impact on the image and myths of Laozi. Relax in the afternoon, maybe with a swim in the hotel, then go out and explore the city’s restaurants. Dinner on your own.
  • Day 7 (Wed). Mount Hua. Take a fast train and in under two hours reach the sacred peak of the west and area where Laozi crossed from the central plains to the west on his way into emigration. Enjoy the Cloud Terrace Monastery(Yuntai guan) at the base of the mountain and hike around the lower range. Dinner on your own.
  • Day 8 (Thu). Mount Hua. Spend the day exploring this spectacular mountain, by cable car and on foot. Enjoy the various temples, the fabulous scenery, and the incredible views. Learn about the various immortals and sages associated with this sacred Daoist place. Join us for a group dinner.
  • Day 9 (Fri). Transit to Louguan. Going past Xi’an and further west, visit the place where Laozi transmitted the Daode jing to Yin Xi, the Guardian of the Pass. Check into your hotel, then visit the temple. Learn about the founding of Louguan in the fifth century and appreciate its importance as the first formal Daoist monastery. Marvel at the wonderful steles with the text of the Daode jing and relish the architecture and art work of the place. Have dinner with everyone at the hotel.
  • Day 10 (Sat). Louguan. Take a day off to explore this beautiful area, visiting immortals’ pavilions, hiking in the mountains, or just lazing around. Lunch and dinner on your own.
  • Day 11 (Sun). Transit to Chengdu. Return to Xi’an by bus, then by air to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. After arrival and check-in, relax in the afternoon, then enjoy a spicy Sichuan dinner with everyone.
  • Day 12 (Mon) Chengdu. Visit the Black Sheep Temple (Qingyang gong) where Laozi met Yin Xi after the latter underwent three years of intensive Daoist cultivation, reciting the Daode jing 1,000 times. Learn all about the legends of Laozi in Sichuan and their meaning both within Daoism and in comparative religion. Enjoy local parks and markets on your own.
  • Day 13 (Tue). Mount Heming. Visit the place where Laozi, after emigrating and ascending to Heaven, returned to reveal the Dao to Zhang Daoling and appoint him as Celestial Master, thus founding the first organized Daoist school. Return to Chengdu at night for a relaxing spa experience, then maybe go out for a dinner adventure on your own.
  • Day 14 (Wed). Lord Lao’s Mountain. Visit one of the ancient districts of the Celestial Masters and a major sanctuary dedicated to Laozi as the main deity of the school. Learn about their organization and main practices, understand their history, and appreciate how this ancient place still serves as a center of Complete Perfection today. Return to the city by mid-afternoon and exlore it some more, before joining us for a local dinner.
  • Day 15 (Thu). Mount Qingcheng. Travel to this most famous of Daoist mountains in the west of China. Check into a local hotel, then visit the Celestial Master’s Grotto, yet another place where Laozi possibly revealed the Dao to Zhang Daoling. Take the lift up to the top and marvel at the beautiful old temples and gigantic Laozi statue there, then hike down at your leisure. Rest in the late afternoon or go for another massage, then have dinner on your own.
  • Day 16 (Fri). Mount Qingcheng. Explore the deeper reaches of the mountain, visit the inner peaks and hike around the hidden parts. Join us for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
  • Day 17 (Sat). Transfer back to Chengdu for a flight to Beijing or wherever your travels may take you. Return to the US, stay in Asia on your own, or move on to explore Tibet and the Himalayas for a few days.

Cost: US$ 3600/person (double occupancy), includes

  • 5-star hotels in Beijing, Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Xian, Chengdu;
  • 4-star hotels at Huashan, Qingcheng shan, Luoguan;
  • all transportation inside of China (train tickets, airfare, and coach service);
  • all meals and spa treatments (massages) as specified;
  • English Guide services and all tips;
  • 2 textbooks for preparation (Daoism and Chinese Culture; God of the Dao).

Additional: China visa, roundtrip air.

Timeline: Deposit of $900 due at sign-up; remainder due Jan 31, 2011.

Contact: Richard Vencu ( Livia Kohn ( (001) 727-501-6915


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