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Top Web Sites

April 18, 1999|VANI RANGACHAR | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There are thousands and thousands of sites devoted to travel in the Internet universe, and their numbers are growing daily. The problem, cyber-travelers are finding, is sorting through all those sites and finding truly useful ones.

Here to help is a sampling of stellar Web sites picked by experts in online travel planning:

Yahoo! Travel (http://travel.yahoo.com). Laura Bly, author of the Travel section's monthly column "Electronic Explorer," likes this site for its "well-organized directory of travel sites" and its "quick and dirty fare finder."

Other sites Bly would check out before leaving town:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov). The U.S. agency's site offers general traveler's health information and advice, lists disease outbreaks in various corners of the globe and details geographic health recommendations.

Fodor's Travel Online (http://www.fodors.com). A guidebook site that offers cyber-travelers the ability to fashion their own mini-guides to 99 destinations worldwide, plus a restaurant index. Bly likes it for its B&B finder and its adventure-travel and destination information.

The Weather Channel (http://www.weather.com). Comprehensive, up-to-date forecasts for U.S. cities and other parts of the globe.

Lonely Planet Online (http://www.lonelyplanet.com). Recommended by both Bly and Noah Vadnai, author of "Travel Planning Online for Dummies" (IDG Books, $24.99), because of its top-flight information for independent travelers, Lonely Planet also includes up-to-date "upgrades" to its guidebook and links to other travel sites and news items.

Other sites recommended by Vadnai are:

Travelocity (http://www.travelocity.com) for its online booking agency.

CityNet.com (http://www.citynet.com). A destination search engine to nearly 5,000 places worldwide that incudes maps and links to other sites.

Arthur Frommer's Outspoken Encyclopedia of Travel (http://www.frommers.com). Frommer, the guru of budget travel, has money-saving articles, lists and deals in addition to guidebook reports. Vadnai calls this site "one of the best discount travel sources on the Web."

TravelPage.com (http://www.travelpage.com). A comprehensive resource to cruise lines and discount cruise information, resorts and "nearly every aspect of travel," Vadnai says.

Smarter Living (http://www.smarterliving.com). A one-stop shopping site for discounted last-minute air fares, Smarter Living collects Internet fares listed by 20 airlines and compiles them into an easily searchable list.

Other useful sites:

GORP (http://www.gorp.com). Still one of the best sites for everything outdoor oriented, from parks to hiking to camping and gear.

U.S. State Department (http://travel.state.gov). The department's travel site includes entry requirements for foreign countries, travel warnings and consular advice.

MAP Quest (http://www.mapquest.com). This site will get you from point A to point B for most places in the U.S. and many spots in Europe, complete with street-by-street driving directions.

And sites of particular help to Californians:

Automobile Club of Southern California (http://www.aaa-calif.com). Expanding its services on the Web, AAA has member-only and nonmember access at this site, and includes travel services, online booking and its invaluable road and "Route Master" reports.

California Division of Tourism (http://gocalif.ca.gov). Region-by-region links to calendars of events, accommodations listings, maps and other guides.

CultureFinder (http://www.culturefinder.com). A database of schedules and contacts for more than 100,000 classical music, children's, dance, opera and theater events in the U.S. and Canada.

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