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TOURS & CRUISES

Southeast Asia's Archeology, Culture

November 01, 1998|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Learn about the archeology and ancient kingdoms of Southeast Asia on a 21-day tour that begins Jan. 8. It focuses on the ancient Champa and Khmer kingdoms, the religious and folk cultures of Laos and Cambodia and the Confucian traditions of Vietnam.

In Da Nang, Vietnam, the group will view a large collection of 9th to 12th century Cham stone sculptures. In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the tour will visit the National Museum, with its collection of Khmer artwork. Participants will visit 15 temple ruins of the Khmer kingdom's 7th to 12th century Angkor City. On the Plain of Jars in Laos, tourists will see mysterious stone jars, some as high as 6 feet, planted in the soil.

Travel up the Mekong River and members will see classical Buddhist temples, the royal palace and villages where sake-making, textile-weaving and other folk crafts supplement the rice culture. Along the sandy coast of the western South China Sea in Vietnam, the 16th century village of Hoi An will be visited. It is on the list of World Heritage Sites where ancient architecture is protected.

Cost: $4,495 per person, double occupancy, including ground transportation, most meals, sightseeing and guides. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Tiller International Tours, 209 Post St., Suite 1015, San Francisco, CA 94108; telephone (415) 397-1966.

India and Nepal

Cultural anthropologist and India expert Judith Johnston will lead a tour to northern India and Nepal from Dec. 29 to Jan. 17. Participants will leave from New York, arriving in Bombay for New Year's Eve celebrations.

The tour then goes to Udaipur, the Adinatha Jain Temple at Ranakpur and Jaipur. Agra and the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri are next, followed by Varanasi and the temples of the River Ganges. Then the group flies to Katmandu, the capital of Nepal, to see the Stupa of Swayambhunath, the village of Patan and Bhatgoan to see the Paspatinath Temple. The tour ends with several days spent sightseeing in Delhi.

Cost: $4,445 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from New York, all transfers, domestic flights, hotels, all meals and entrance fees.

Contact: Transcultural Tours; tel. (516) 877-4115.

Italy: Skiing

Courmayeur is Italy with French flavor. Located on the Italian side of Mt. Blanc, it is a historical village with cobblestone streets, shops and restaurants. Participants can ski Pila near Aosta in Chamonix, France, as well as other nearby resorts. The tour runs Jan. 30 to Feb. 7.

Cost: $1,329 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare on Alitalia Airlines from Los Angeles, a ski pass valid for six days, all lodging, breakfast daily, all dinners, round-trip motor-coach transfer from airport to resort, Italian- and English-speaking host and hostesses, service charges and taxes at hotels.

Contact: Carlucci's Italy; tel. (949) 707-5824.

Costa Rica: Gardens

A visit to Costa Rica with the Horticultural Society of New York is planned Jan. 23 to 30. Aimed at nature lovers, the itinerary takes participants from rain forests atop steep mountains to white beaches along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

The schedule includes invitations to private gardens; the Costa Flores Tropical Flower Plantation, one of the largest tropical flower farms in the world; a hands-on tour of a coffee plantation during harvest; and the Bosque de Paz Cloud Forest, including a guided walk and lunch. An aerial tram ride over the rain forest and the spa at Tabacon Hot Springs are included, as is a hike up Arenal Volcano. The itinerary also covers the beaches of the central Pacific coast and the Carrara Biological Reserve.

Accommodations in the rain forest are at the Selva Verde Lodge, where guests can observe native birds and animals.

Cost: $1,700 per person, double occupancy, including all breakfasts, five lunches and dinners, motor-coach transportation, all garden entries and tours. Air fare is additional.

Contact: Norma Greenwood at City Adventures; tel. (718) 457-0672.

Belize: Science

Explore the rain forests, ruins and reefs of Belize on a two-week trek with two Palomar College life science professors. Participants will leave Jan. 3 and return Jan. 16. The tour includes visits to Mayan ruins, a natural history museum and a butterfly farm. Also included are ecology rides, jungle walks, cave rafting, snorkeling and nature hikes.

Cost: $1,995 per person, double or triple occupancy, including air transportation from Los Angeles, three meals daily while in Belize, local transportation and entrance fees. Not included: Palomar College enrollment fees, accident insurance and departure taxes.

Contact: Life Sciences Department at Palomar College; tel. (760) 744-1150, Ext. 2275.

Russia: Festivals

Lindblad Special Expeditions is offering "A Winter Celebration in Russia" that brings guests to St. Petersburg, Novgorod and Moscow. Participants will experience the many cultural festivities of winter, which include music and dance festivals during a 12-day expedition beginning on Dec. 27.

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