Travel Weekly's Asia-Pacific E-letter: June 13, 2005

CLIPPER CRUISE LINE is offering two small-ship itineraries that explore the coastlines of Japan, Taiwan, China and Vietnam in August and September. The new Exploring Vietnam and the Trade Routes of the Orient itineraries both use the 128-passenger Clipper Odyssey. The small luxury vessel can get close to coastal areas that are beyond the reach of the giant ocean liners. All staterooms are outside cabins with sitting areas, twin- or queen-size beds, refrigerators, TVs, safes and individually controlled air conditioning. The ships features also include lounges, a library, a gym, a beauty salon and a pool. Naturalists and historians accompany passengers on the ship and lead shore excursions. The 15-day Trade Routes of the Orient includes Japan, Taiwan, China and Vietnam. Departing Aug. 23, the trip is priced from $5,970 per person, double, including 12 nights on the ship. Exploring Vietnam is a 13-day trip departing Sept. 2 and 12 and priced from $4,840 per person, double. Call (800) 325-0010 or visit www.clippercruise.com.

LE MERIDIEN HOTELS & RESORTS signed a contract with Gloharta Sdn Bhd to manage a new five-star hotel in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, the northernmost state of Malaysian Borneo. Now in its final stages of construction, the 292-room property is located on the eastern side of Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens in Kota Kinabalus city center, with views of the city and the South China Sea. It will be Meridiens second Malaysian property. Meridien is also planning to open two hotels in Shanghai; one in Chiang Mai, Thailand; and one in Bangkok. The chain has 130 hotels in 56 countries. For information or to book, see http://www.lemeridien.com or call (800) 543-4300.

ASIA CLASSIC TOURS introduced a nine-night budget tour that comes in with a starting price of $1,599 per person, double. The itinerary focuses on three major cities, Beijing, Xian and Shanghai, all so different they are nearly different worlds. It begins with four days exploring Beijing, including Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and the Great Wall. In Xian, the tour includes the city wall, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Terracotta Warriors. The climax of the trip is in Shanghai, with visits to the Bund, the Jade Buddha Temple and the Yuyuan Garden. To book, call (800) 717-7752. For more information visit the site at www.asiaclassictours.com.

VIRGIN VACATIONS packaged Hong Kong and Bangkok together with a starting price of $799 from Los Angeles. The package includes three nights in each city and three flights: one to Bangkok, one from Bangkok to Hong Kong and one returning from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. Continental breakfast is included daily. Hotel taxes and service charges are also included. The package must be booked by June 16 for travel from Sept. 5 through 22. Departures are available from many other U.S. cities at graduated prices. For example, from San Francisco the price is $859; from New York its $999. For more information see www.virgin-vacations.com or call (888) YES-VIRGIN (937-8474).

 

PACIFIC DELIGHT TOURS added the word World to its name, becoming Pacific Delight World Tours, to reflect the companys widened offerings. Founded in 1971 by Francis Luk, as an operator of tours to China and Southeast Asia tours, the company has recently expanded beyond its Asian base. It opened travel to Australia and New Zealand in 1979 but recently beefed up its offerings to include nearly 50 packages. In 2003, Pacific Delight expanded its operations into Africa and India. In 2004, it began travel to Turkey. For more information, call (800) 221-7179 or visit the Web site at www.pacificdelighttours.com.

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