Oh, to Be in England When April Is There

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Spend 13 days in the merry England of olde on a walking tour April 7 to 19. The walks take guests through 1,000-year-old villages, next to Roman walls, along the seacoast and through the literature region of the Lake District. Participants explore the north of England from the Blue John Caverns of Castleton to the ancient fishing port of Whitby and on to a bird-watching area. The group will take a steam train through the Yorkshire Moors and ride aboard an 1850s Coniston Steamer on the waters of the Lake District. Guests stay in country manor houses and village inns.

Cost: $1,995 per person, double occupancy, including 12 nights' accommodations, daily breakfast and lunch, three dinners, ground transportation and entrance fees. Contact: High Country Trekkers, 11950 Ventura Blvd., Suite 4, Studio City, CA 91604; telephone (800) 475-0004.

Springtime in London

History, culture and famous landmarks are on schedule for a springtime trip to London March 22 to 29 that also focuses on theater. Guests receive orchestra seats to three productions and tours of the Royal National Theatre and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Also planned is a full-day excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon or Stonehenge and Bath.

Cost: $1,534 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Southern California, twin-bedded rooms at the Forum Hotel, continental breakfast daily, London guides for two days, sightseeing and performance tickets. Contact: Mira Costa College Community Services, 1 Barnard Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056; tel. (619) 757-2121.

Ancient Egypt

A tour designed for adventurous travelers who want a thorough introduction to the principal monuments of ancient Egypt runs Feb. 14 to March 7. In addition to all major sites, the group will tour less visited sites, including the pyramid field of Dahshur and the tomb of Aye in a remote branch of the Valley of the Kings. The group will not exceed 15 members. Guests will have ample time in Luxor and Aswan and also take a camel ride.

Cost: $4,565 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip and domestic air transportation, transfers, hotels, all breakfasts, some meals and entrance fees. Contact: Roosevelt Tours, P.O. Box 857, New Haven, CT 06504; tel. (203) 772-4258.

Mexican Architects

Tour the modern architecture of Mexico City on a trip that features the works of architect Luis Barrigan and his recently restored home and studio, Convento La Capuchinas and Casa Gilardi. The tour, from Feb. 20 to 23, is led by Anibal Figueroa, a professor of architecture in Mexico City. Guests also tour the National Center for the Arts, private homes and public buildings.

Cost: $620 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations for three nights, all ground transportation, entrance fees and two meals. Air fare is not included. Deposit is needed by Dec. 16. Contact: Painted Desert Productions, P.O. Box 2023, Scottsdale, AZ 85252; tel. (602) 991-1442.

Thai Cuisine

Thai chef Tommy Tang, known for his restaurants in Los Angeles and New York, will lead a cooking tour of Thailand Feb. 15 to 28. The trip, operated by International Dining Adventures of Seattle, offers an itinerary that takes guests to off-the-beaten-path sites in Bangkok, the northern city of Chiang Mai and the southern island of Phuket.

The trip will include three cooking classes taught by Tang and prominent chefs in Thailand. Tang will also take the group behind the scenes at restaurants and to a shrimp farm.

Cost: $3,290 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, most meals and air fare within Thailand. Air fare to Bangkok is not included. Contact: International Dining Adventures at (800) 447-6080.

Japan's Culture

A travel program focusing on the cultures, cuisine and arts of Japan will run May 15 to 27. The tour is conducted by Faith Flam, director of the Ethnic Experience, and Steve Beimel, editor of the Kyoto Diary, a quarterly journal on the arts and culture of Japan. Participants will sleep on comfortable tatami in a simple ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and dine on soba and mountain vegetables in the 380-year-old residence of a former samurai.

To experience Kyoto's cultural heritage, participants will attend a traditional Kabuki theater performance; visit the preserved home and ceramic workshop of Kawai Kanjiro, leader of the Japanese Mingei (folk crafts) movement; and watch a master indigo dyer demonstrate his centuries-old technique. Excursions will be made to tranquil private gardens and to Sacho-ji (Moss Garden), a 14th century, five-acre garden with more than 40 varieties of moss. Guests meet with a Zen tea master, attend a sake-tasting party and view a special exhibit at the Kyoto National Art Museum.

Cost: $3,100 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles, accommodations, most meals, fares on public transportation and entrance fees to all sites. Contact: Faith Flam, Ethnic Experience, tel. (818) 789-7046; or Brooke Danza at Esprit Travel, tel. (310) 829-6060.

Faraway Kingdoms

Explore Myanmar and the borderland Chinese province of Yunnan Feb. 2 to 23. The tour visits Yangon with its pagodas, the medieval capital of Pagan, Mandalay, and the water villages and market towns of Lake Inle. The tour then goes off the beaten path to the British colonial hill stations and tribal areas of Shan state in Myanmar. The tour crosses into Yunnan Province, China, where guests see the upper reaches of the Mekong, the Salween and Pearl rivers. Half of China's minority tribes live in Yunnan Province, and the tour visits villages perched on terraced fields or nestled in furrowed mountain valleys. Guests visit Buddhist and shamanistic monuments and art collections to give insight into the culture.

Cost: $6,310 per person, double occupancy, including air fare, accommodations, all meals and ground transportation. Contact: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 3rd St., San Francisco, CA 94103; tel. (415) 357-4190.

Rafting Grand Canyon

Spend six days, beginning July 6, traveling back through geologic time on the Grand Canyon's Colorado River as a professional geologist explains the scenery. Thirty-foot inflatable boats provide access to places that can be reached in no other way, including Vasey's Paradise, sandy-floored Redwall Cavern and the warm travertine pools of Havasupi Creek. Peaceful flat water alternates with rapids in the canyon. Professional river guides pilot the rafts through Crystal, Hermit, Hance, Lava Falls and 20 other major rapids. All camping gear is provided and the guides prepare all meals on the river.

Cost: $1,675 per person, including a round-trip charter flight from Las Vegas to Page, Ariz.; one night hotel in Page; all transfers; all meals on the river and a helicopter ride out of the canyon. Not included: transportation to Las Vegas. Contact: Carolyn Edwards, Your Travel Center, 1005 Casitas Pass Road, Carpinteria, CA 93013; tel. (805) 684-6601.

The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with travel agents or tour operators.

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