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Tours & Cruises

Focusing the Camera on Vietnam and Laos


Laos and northern Vietnam will be the focus of two photo tours organized by Absolute Asia and led by photographer Barbara Nelson. The itineraries are designed to allow time to photograph the markets, temples, villages, festivals and landscapes of Southeast Asia. Participants will rise early in Laos to catch the young Buddhist monks collecting morning alms; spend an afternoon observing life on the Mekong River or capture a nighttime performance of Hanoi's fabled water puppets.

The 14-day Laos program is scheduled from Nov. 22 to Dec. 5; the northern Vietnam trip, from Nov. 1 to 19. Air fare from the United States is extra. Prices are per person, double occupancy; including air and surface transportation in Vietnam, all accommodations, hotel taxes and service charges, most meals, airport transfers, government fees, and local handling charges and admission fees.

The Laos program begins with attendance at a three-day festival at the national shrine of That Luang Stupa, and continues north to the mysterious Plain of Jars and to the holy caves of Pak Ou with their Buddhist sculptures. Visits to hill tribes along the Chinese border and to the tranquil capital of Vientiane provide even more opportunities for memorable photos.

The northern Vietnam tour begins in Hanoi, noted for its French Colonial architecture. Also included are visits to mountains of Lang Son and Cao Bang and the French hill stations of Tuyen Quang and Dien Bien Phu (site of the battle between the French and Vietnamese). Ample time is given to meet and photograph indigenous hill tribes. The trip concludes with a visit to Halong Bay on Vietnam's coast, known for its picturesque fishing villages and striking limestone formations.

Cost: $2,295 to Laos and $2,025 to Vietnam, per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, most meals, ground transportation and hotel taxes. Contact: Absolute Asia, 180 Varick St., 16th Floor, New York, NY 10014; telephone (800) 736-8187.

Pieces of Portugal

Explore Portugal in depth on an 11-night package tour that leaves weekly through Oct. 8. Beginning and ending in Lisbon, travelers will journey to Faro, the Sagres Peninsula, Cape St. Vincent, Praia da Rocha, Evora, Castelo de Vide, Viseu, Douro Valley, Bussaco Forest, Conimbriga and Tomar.

Cost: $975 per person, double occupancy, including 11 nights' accommodations, breakfast daily, four dinners, air-conditioned motor-coach transportation, local taxes, service charges and gratuities, and multilingual tour escort.

Contact Trafalgar Tours: tel. (800) 457-6891.

Southwest Treasures

Aventura Artistica is offering a narrow-gauge train tour through remote parts of the Rocky Mountains and a tour to Taos, Santa Fe and Chimayo from Sept. 12 to 16. Guests ride from Chama on a steam-powered train to Anonito, Colo. The tour continues in New Mexico with a walk through Bandelier National Monument at dusk, artists' studio visits in Santa Fe, a visit to Pueblos and a half a day folk-art workshop.

Cost: $500 per person, double occupancy, including land transportation, driver and guides, lodging and six meals. Price does not include air transportation to Albuquerque.

Contact: Aventura Artistica, 3143 Garrison St., San Diego, CA 92106; tel. (800) 808-7352.

Jazz in Ireland

The Guinness Jazz Festival in Cork, Ireland, is the focus of an Irish trip Oct. 19 to 28 with Legend Tours. Participants visit Dublin, Galway and Cork.

The four-day jazz festival is one of the largest in Europe and is held close to Blarney Castle and the Waterford Crystal Factory. Guests will also tour pubs in Dublin and Galway to hear Irish music.

Cost: $2,098 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles, eight nights' accommodations, breakfast daily, festival performances and motor-coach transportation. Contact: Legend Tours, 3990 Old Town Ave., Suite 100-C, San Diego, CA 92110; tel. (800) 333-6114.

Siskiyou Rails

A weeklong tour of Lassen National Park, scenic byways around Mt. Shasta and the railways of Northern California is being sponsored by Let's Travel Tours from Oct. 1 to 7.

Via train and motor coach from Southern California, the tour will follow a circular route traveling first to Sacramento through the San Joaquin Valley. A private train on the Yolo Shortline Railroad takes the group through the Sacramento Delta, followed by a drive through the Sacramento River wetlands. The tour continues to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park, where local naturalists will join the group to explain the features of this area. Also included is a private train excursion on the McCloud Railroad through Shasta National Forest, a visit to rural Scott Valley, including the 100-year-old Fort Jones Hardware Store, with a pause for an ice cream soda at Scott Valley Drug, and a guided visit to Old Sacramento Street in the former railroad town of Dunsmuir.

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