Explore temples, pagodas


Discover the steamy allure of some of the world's newest vacation hot spots on 16-day tours to the legendary kingdoms of Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar (Burma).

The Southeast Asia tours, offered Oct. 14, Dec. 30 and Feb. 3, will visit the temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia; Bangkok, Sukhothai, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Yangon (Rangoon) and Pagan (Bagan), Myanmar.

"Angkor is so popular now," said tour organizer Hima Singh, who specializes in Asian Pacific tours. "It's the temples; everyone wants to go. Of all the temples in Asia, those are the best. The scale is beautiful; the workmanship is exquisite."

The tours begin in Thailand, focusing on the nation's culture, art, architecture and cuisine. The group visits the Grand Palace in Bangkok, sees the Thai and Khmer ruins in Sukhothai, then flies to the Golden Triangle of northern Thailand to visit tribal villages. In Myanmar, the focus will be on the temples and pagodas of Pagan's golden age, which began in the 11th century.

The trips end in Cambodia at Angkor, considered the cultural and spiritual heart of Khmer civilization.

Cost: $3,190 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $625), including accommodations, many meals, guides, transfers, sightseeing, ground transportation, entrance fees, hotel taxes and service charges. International airfare is not included.

Contact: Asian Pacific Adventures, (800) 825-1680, https://www.asianpacific


Riviera: Now you're cooking

EaT, drink and explore Italy on a 12-night culinary tour.

The Oct. 21 escorted tour will include cooking lessons and visits to vineyards and markets combined with daylong excursions.

The group will spend a week on Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy as well as five nights on the Italian Riviera in Portovenere.

Cost: $3,590 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $400), including daily breakfast and dinner, ground transportation, local guides and most entrance fees. International airfare to Italy is not included.

Contact: Tours to Boot Inc., Brea, (714) 307-0521,



Stargaze in the Southwest

LIGHT up your nightlife on stargazing journeys and behind-the-scenes tours of some of the nation's best-known Southwestern astronomical destinations.

An Oct. 2-9 tour, accompanied by an editor from Sky & Telescope magazine, will visit Kitt Peak National Observatory in southern Arizona, home of the world's largest collection of optical telescopes. Other stops include Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Grand Canyon National Park and the Barringer Meteorite Crater, also in the Arizona desert.

A separate New Mexico tour, planned Oct. 9-16, will focus on aerospace and astronomy. The group, also accompanied by a Sky & Telescope editor, will visit Los Alamos National Laboratory, the UFO Museum in Roswell and the Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. The group also will visit the VLA (Very Large Array) radio telescopes near Socorro, Apache Point Observatory and National Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak.

Cost: The Arizona tour is $1,655 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $200), including accommodations, most meals, admissions, sightseeing and stargazing sessions. The New Mexico tour is $1,698 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $220). Airfare is not included on either tour.

Contact: TravelQuest International, Prescott, Ariz., (800) 830-1998, .


Cruising amid the fall colors

Fall for the vibrant yellows, reds and golds of autumn on nine-night Great Lakes cruises that ply North America's inland sea.

The trips, which depart Sept. 2, 10 and 24 from Montreal, are aboard the Orion, a 106-passenger ship.

The itinerary includes the seven locks of St. Lawrence Seaway between Montreal and Lake Ontario; Niagara Falls; the Thousand Islands; Windsor, Ontario; Detroit; Sault Ste. Marie, on Michigan's Upper Peninsula; Mackinac Island, Mich.; and Chicago.

Other itineraries and cruise ships are available.

Cost: From $4,495 per person, double occupancy, including cruise, shore excursions, on-board naturalists and meals with beer or wine.

Contact: Great Lakes Cruise Co., Ann Arbor, Mich., (888) 891-0203, .

The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. Send information to Tours & Cruises, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 or write via e-mail to