A&K adds three Orient programs

NEW YORK -- Abercrombie & Kent added three programs to its 2003-2004 Orient brochure set to be released this month.

The tours are Highlights of Thailand and Myanmar; Images of Indochina; and Traditional Orient. Following are some inclusions in the new offerings.

• The Highlights of Thailand and Myanmar program is part of A&K's Discovery series, which is the lower end of the operator's price range. The series is characterized by more free time and fewer included meals.

The 17-night itinerary includes, in Thailand, the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha in Bangkok; Sukhothai, the first capital of the Thai kingdom; and the night market in Chiang Mai. Included in the Myanmar segment are the hill country of Inle Lake; the temple plain of Pagan; the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon; and the Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay.

The Kuthodaw Pagoda in Mandalay, Myanmar, is on Abercrombie & Kent's Highlights of Thailand and Myanmar program. The land price starts at $4,690. Domestic air fare is an additional $825.

• The Images of Indochina tour is a 14-night program that includes Hong Kong; Hanoi, Vietnam; Bangkok, Thailand; and Yangon, Myanmar.

It's part of A&K's Connoisseur's Series, the operator's top-end escorted programs, which include only luxury properties and have all meals included, many of them a la carte. The land price starts at $5,490, plus an additional $880 for domestic air.

• The Traditional Orient itinerary is part of the operator's Private Travel Collection. Formerly called the Signature Series, these use the elements of the structured itineraries from A&K's escorted tour series but can be scheduled whenever a client chooses and are taken independently.

"It's an intermediate step between escorted group tours and independent travel," said an A&K spokeswoman. "The big advantage for the agent is that he or she can make one phone call and get all the necessary information on price and availability."

The 14-night itinerary features Hanoi, Yangon and Bangkok, as well as several points in China, including Hong Kong, Shanghai and Suzhou. The land price starts at $5,380, plus an additional $1,350 for domestic air.

A&K's China specialist, Gerald Hatherly, who creates the itineraries, said traveling in Southeast Asia has become safer and more comfortable because of improvements in the infrastructure.

"There are new roads to the most popular destinations and several new airports," said Hatherly. "Most of the regional airlines now use French ATR planes, so the flights are much more comfortable."

He said an increased awareness of the region has boosted A&K's special-interest group business.

A&K has incorporated a number of the region's remodeled hotels into its Southeast Asia programs, including the Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia; the Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; the Strand Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar; and the Hotel Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi, Vietnam.

For more information, call A&K's reservations number at (800) 323-7308 or visit its Web site at www.abercrombiekent.com.

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