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Tours & Cruises

Rural Schools, Cities, Village Life in Vietnam

September 22, 1996|KARIN DOMINELLO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two 15-day trips to Vietnam, which explore the country from South to North, include Saigon, Cu Chi, Da Nang, the imperial city of Hue, the ancestral village of Hoi An, rock formations in Ha Long Bay and Hanoi. The tours depart Dec. 21 and March 8. The trips include visits to remote villages and tribal areas in the Mekong Delta to deliver school supplies to rural schools, village hikes and boat trips in Ha Long and on the Perfume River.

Cost: $2,999 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air from LAX, first-class hotels, all sightseeing, transportation and flights within Vietnam, all meals and transfers. Contact: Escapes Unlimited, 6262 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92666; telephone (800) 243-7227 or (714) 771-3154.

Shopping List: Italy

A holiday shopping trip to Italy departs LAX for Milan on Dec. 5 and returns Dec. 13. The group will board minivans for a short trip to Lago d'Orta, just south of Lago Maggiore. The next two days are spent in the countryside south of Florence. Guests will stay in a villa, enjoy a Tuscan dinner and spend a full day shopping. The group will visit a leather factory, where members can purchase leather direct.

Also a gold jewelry laboratory has agreed to sell directly at prices discounted 50%. Participants will travel to Rome and shop end-of-the-year specials at factory outlets. A Roman feast is included, as well as ample time to sightsee.

Cost: $1,595 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare, hotels, daily breakfast, three dinners with wines, ground transportation, Italian guide and entrance fees. Contact: Discovery Travel International, 700 S. Flower St., Suite 11000, Los Angeles, CA 90017; tel. (213) 892-6381.

Colorful India

Glorious Adventures is offering a three-week trip to India that circles the country, beginning in Madras in the south. The tour departs Los Angeles on Jan. 13. From Madras an excursion goes to famous sites at Kanchipuram and Mamallapuram. The next stop is Cochin, which has a unique heritage that can be discerned in its old Jewish synagogue, "Dutch Palace" and Chinese fishing nets. Tourists will cruise lagoons and backwaters through lush plantations to Kottayam and spend a day in the countryside. Cosmopolitan Bombay's Gateway to India and Elephant Island will be succeeded by a flight to the "pink city" of Jaipur. Guests continue by road to Agra and the marbled Taj Mahal. Guests continue east to Bhubaneshwar, a city of great temples rarely seen by tourists, before flying back to New Delhi, the nation's capital.

Aside from sightseeing, guests enjoy visits to private homes, traditional ayurvedic health centers and art collections. A highlight will be a Jeep trip to an authentic treehouse for a private visit, a cooking demonstration and a North Indian-style picnic.

Cost: $5,595 per person, double occupancy, including international and domestic air transportation, deluxe hotels, most meals, sightseeing with selected local guides and special events. Contact: Glorious Adventures, 10007 Gaynor Ave., North Hills, CA 91343; tel. (818) 893-9030.

Wintering in Arizona

Corliss Tours of Monrovia will repeat its holiday tours to Scottsdale, Ariz. The Thanksgiving tour departs Nov. 26 and the Christmas tour departs Dec. 22. Both tours are five days and are escorted.

Local attractions include: Fort Verde State Historic Park, Montezuma Castle National Monument, the Desert Botanical Garden, the Arizona State Capitol Museum and the Heard Museum. Extensive sightseeing of Scottsdale, Sedona and the Old Apache Trail is also included. The highlight on both tours is the Christmas Jubilee Show at the Red River Opry in Tempe, featuring holiday music and entertainment.

Eight meals are included on each tour, highlighted by a chuck-wagon supper and cowboy entertainment at the popular Rawhide, and a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Cost: $530 per person, double occupancy, for either tour. Air fare to Phoenix is additional. The price includes first-class hotel accommodations, chartered motor coach, airport transfers in Phoenix, eight meals, sightseeing with included admissions, baggage handling and the services of a guide. Contact: Corliss Tours, 436 W. Foothill Blvd., Monrovia, CA 91016; tel. (800) 456-5717.

Biking Napa

Womantours is offering a women-only, six-day inn-to-inn bicycle tour through Sonoma and Napa counties Oct. 27 to 31. The tour starts in Healdsburg; participants will cycle through the vineyards of the Alexander Valley and continue through the lush redwood forests to the Pacific coastal towns of Jenner and Bodega Bay. The group also overnights in Sonoma and Napa valleys, allowing time to visit the famous wineries of the area. Accommodations will include some of the more luxurious inns of the area, including the Bodega Bay Lodge and the Napa Valley Lodge.

This trip is suitable for riders at all levels of experience. A support van will accompany the tour.

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