Firm's tour visits 'untapped gems' of Myanmar

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BOULDER, Colo. -- For Davies Stamm, one visit to Myanmar just wasn't enough.

Since his first trip to the area in the 1970s, Stamm has returned many times -- in fact, he has made more than 40 trips in the six years he's been leading tours there for Asia Transpacific Journeys.

Asia Transpacific is hoping others share Stamm's enthusiasm. The operator created a special Myanmar itinerary, called On Burma's Frontiers, based on his specifications. (Myanmar previously was known as Burma.)

A single departure is planned for Feb. 15. If demand warrants it, the program will become a regular part of the company's offerings.

The Shwedagon Temple in Yangon is included in Asia Transpacific Journeys' Myanmar programs. "There are travelers who have been [to Myanmar] and they're looking for something new," said Stamm. "We have found some untapped gems."

Some of those gems include sites that previously were off-limits to tourists for political reasons, according to Eric Kareus, sales manager for Asia Transpacific.

Kareus said the Myanmar government gradually has liberalized its policies and now is allowing foreign visitors.

"This is a good trip for people who have been to Myanmar before. It doesn't go to the must-see sites," Kareus said. "The only traditional tourist places on this trip are Yangon and Mandalay -- and we go there because they are en route to some of the more outlying areas."

The itinerary features four principal points of interest, beginning with a boat trip to Maruak-u, a rich archaeological site on the border with Bangladesh.

From Maruak-u, the group will travel to Yangon and Mandalay and then move to the Shan states, stopping at Maymyo, a town so high in the mountains its moderate climate enables wild strawberries to grow.

The itinerary then takes passengers to Hsipaw near the China border on the World War II-era Myanmar Road.

From Hsipaw, the itinerary moves to Kengtung, a highland town north of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The tour will include some hiking, but alternative transportation will be provided. The program is priced at $3,895, land only. The base commission is 10%.

For more information, call (800) 642-2742 or visit www.asiatranspacificjourneys.com.

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