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Tours & Cruises

Multi-Sport Belize: Not for the Armchair Traveler

January 06, 2002|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Seeing artifacts and ancient sacrificial remains in a sacred ceremonial cave in a Mayan jungle will give you something unusual to write home about. Island Expeditions' "Sale Si Puede Jungle Expedition" won't be your typical resort vacation. It's a weeklong multi-sport adventure with departures Feb. 8 and 15; March 8, 15 and 22; and April 5. Participants will take a two-day trek through Cockscomb Basin and then camp in the rain forest during a multi-day white-water rafting trip on the Swasey River. The trip ends with a stay in a seaside hotel with a tour of the history-rich village of Placencia.

Cost: $1,899 per person, double occupancy, including lodgings, camping equipment, guides and most meals. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Island Expeditions; (800) 667-1630, www.islandexpeditions.com.

Costa Rica: Art Retreats

CreArte will host three 10-day art and music retreats on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica in February and March. Taught by artists and musicians, workshops are designed for novices and professionals. Guests can also snorkel, kayak, hike and swim.

Cost: $1,250 per person, double occupancy, including meals and lodging; $950 for companions who do not attend workshops. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Cynthia Kennedy at CreArte; (707) 573-6041, www.crearteretreat.com.

Thailand: Deluxe Train

Train lovers can ride the rails from Bangkok to Singapore on the luxury Eastern & Oriental Express. The 10-day independent tour departs Wednesdays and Sundays year-round. Passengers start in Bangkok and stay at the Peninsula Hotel for three nights. A city tour will visit the Grand Palace and the floating market. Then the train trip runs for two nights, stopping at the River Kwai for a barge cruise; colonial George Town in Penang, Malaysia; and villages with stilt houses. The next three nights will be spent in Singapore at the Raffles hotel. (Depending on dates of travel, the itinerary may start in Singapore and end in Bangkok.)

Cost: from $4,275 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles, hotels, most meals, train trip and day cruise on the River Kwai.

Contact a travel agent or call Maupintour; (800) 255-4266, www.maupintour.com.

Utah: For Adventurers

Active travelers can try several modes of transport on a trip to Canyonlands and Arches national parks. Guests will ride horses from Moab to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Then the group will hike into Arches park and finish the day with a ride in a raft or an inflatable kayak down the Colorado River. Visitors take mountain bikes to see 1,000-year-old petroglyphs. Depending on tour dates, participants will camp or stay at inns. Dates are May 12 to 17 (inns), May 26 to 31 (singles camping), Sept. 22 to 27 (inns) and Oct. 13 to 18 (camping).

Cost: $1,595 per person for inn lodging, $995 for camping, including meals, guides and most equipment. Bike rental is $95, and transportation to Moab is extra.

Contact: the World Outdoors; (800) 488-8483, www.theworldoutdoors.com.

Myanmar: Mystical Sites

One of the more interesting aspects of Myanmar, formerly Burma, is its religious traditions. Travelers have numerous temples to explore and rituals to observe. Global Spectrum's "Mystical Myanmar" is a 12-day trip that visits Yangon, Inle Lake, Mandalay, Bagan and Mt. Popa. One side trip is to Pindaya to see caves where more than 9,000 Buddhas are carved into a maze of chambers. Trips are available year-round if two or more people are booked.

Cost: from $2,115 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, some meals, in-country transportation, musical performances and guide services. International air fare is extra.

Contact: Global Spectrum; (800) 419-4446, www.asianpassages.com.

Singapore: Feasting

Explore the culinary and cultural heritage of Singapore during the ninth annual Singapore Food Festival, a monthlong celebration of Asian and international cuisine. The trip, April 6 to 12, includes tours of the city's diverse ethnic neighborhoods, dinners, festive events and educational programs that introduce a variety of Asian herbs and spices.

Cost: from $3,530 per person, double, including hotels, most meals and guides. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Abercrombie & Kent's Special Interest Group Tours; (800) 323-7308, www.abercrombieandkent.com (and see www.singaporefoodfestival.com).

China: The Basics

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