There's good news from around the world for student-style travelers.
For starters, the Swedish Youth Hostel Assn. has opened 14 new locations and lowered its rates.
There are 277 hostels in Sweden that are affiliated with the International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF). About 130 are open throughout the year. Because of lower taxes, the association has been able to reduce its rates. IYHF members now can expect to pay between 60 and 90 kronor (about $10-$16) for dormitory-style accommodations.
Elsewhere, the government of India's Department of Youth Affairs and Sports has allocated funds for the construction of the world's highest youth hostel in Leh, at an elevation of 11,500 feet in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state. Travelers can reach the area by road or air from New Delhi.
The Ladakh region, nicknamed "Little Tibet," is famous for Buddhist shrines. Until recently, foreigners were prohibited from traveling in the area.
From Leh, travelers can take advantage of trekking routes in the Nubra Valley and the glaciated region of Zanskar, Padam and Kargil.
A good source of information for travelers who want to learn more about visiting this region is "India--A Travel Survival Kit" (Lonely Plant, $19.95).
Travelers to Southeast Asia who need the nitty-gritty details on where to go, what to see, how to get there and what to look out for can get heaps of help in the recently revised, 922-page "South-East Asia on a Shoestring" (Lonely Planet, $19.95).
The seventh edition of the guidebook was researched by a team of eight authors. It's packed with information and advice for travel to Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Along with practical information you'll find valuable advice on health and safety, some of which has been supplied by readers of previous editions. For example, the authors warn that over the years they have had letters from "unfortunate travelers who have been the victims of just about every scam imaginable."
Two popular scams have been airline-ticket rackets and "buy-here, sell-there" operations. People have often lost money on these deals though sheer stupidity. Ask yourself, for example, would you give somebody whose office is a table in a coffee bar $1,000 to get you an airline ticket? And before you lay out large amounts of money for amazing gemstones (or some other supposedly high-value item) that you're assured you can sell at a huge profit back home, ask yourself: If this is so easy, why doesn't everybody do it?
In another Asia-related matter, Chi Yue, a history teacher who left China in March, 1989, has arranged for a North American tour company and Beijing University to offer a one-month summer program for students, teachers and retirees. The purpose is to provide travelers with closer contact to Chinese residents than most organized tours can offer.
This year's program departs from New York ($2,450) and San Francisco ($2,350) next Sunday. Price includes return air fare, accommodations, meals, tuition, sightseeing, ground transportation in China, and English-speaking instructors. The single supplement is $300.
For more information on this or next year's programs, contact Goway Travel Ltd., 2300 Yonge St. Suite 2001, Toronto, Canada M4P 1E4, (416) 322-1034.