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Travel Q&A: Organized Trips to Burma, Cape Cod in the Fall

A young monk in front of a ruined Buddha statue in Bagan, Burma.
A young monk in front of a ruined Buddha statue in Bagan, Burma. (2003 Photo By Vijay Johsi -- Associated Press)

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By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, September 6, 2009

Q. My husband and I would like to visit Burma. The few organized trips we have found combine it with places we have already been to, such as Thailand and Vietnam. Do you know of any agency with a trip to Burma alone?

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M. Moore, Rockville

A The good news is that there are a bunch of Burma-only tours out there, ranging from the standard Yangon-Bagan-Mount Popa circuit to treks in the remote northern reaches. The even better news is that many outfitters say they are mindful of the ongoing ethical debate about visiting Burma and have taken measures to ensure that at least some of their tourist dollars go to support small, locally owned businesses and not the repressive military dictatorship. Three such companies:

-- Journeys International (800-255-8735, http://www.journeys.travel). Three itineraries, including an 11-day "Echoes of Antiquity" trip that visits the ruins of Bagan, the markets and historical sites of Mandalay and numerous sites in between. Prices start at $2,695 per person double for private, anytime-departure travel. (Prices for this and the trips below include meals, lodging, internal transportation and guides, but not airfare from Washington, so be prepared to tack on another $3,000 or so.)

-- Absolute Travel (800-736-8187, http://www.absolutetravel.com). Six tours of various lengths, starting with a five-night package that visits Yangon, Bagan and Mount Popa. Prices start at $3,025.

-- Geographic Expeditions (800-777-8183, http://www.geoex.com). Three trips, including "A Passage to Burma," a 14-day tour that uses chartered flights and riverboats to visit the Burma less seen ($10,995).

My husband and I will visit Cape Cod in early November, based in Falmouth. What kinds of activities are available then? We would also like to take a day trip to Nantucket.

Dallas Bolen, Owings

Some delightful surprises about Cape Cod in November:

-- Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the peninsula is about 10 degrees warmer than the mainland in winter. Expect daytime temps in the mid-60s.

-- Fall lasts a long time, and "our foliage stays on the trees longer," said Bill DeSousa, a spokesman for the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce. Instead of the flaming oranges and reds of Vermont, he said, the palette is earthy and subtle: ocher, umber, burnt sienna, scarlet.

-- There's an ungodly amount of poison ivy, which turns a deep brownish-red in the fall. Okay, that isn't so delightful, but it's a small price to pay for the joys of the Cape in autumn.

This is prime time for walking and bicycling. Close to your base, check out the Shining Sea Bikeway, a 10.7-mile paved path that runs from North Falmouth to the historic fishing village of Woods Hole. It's the only bikeway on Cape Cod that has a section along the seashore. At least two bike rental businesses with multiple locations will be open during your visit, DeSousa said.

Other late-fall distractions include museums -- eight are open year-round, including the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis and the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster -- as well as galleries, antiques shops, lighthouses and theater. And yes, you can hop over to Nantucket Island for the day, since at least two ferry lines operate from Hyannis year-round: Hy-Line Cruises (800-492-8082, http://www.hy-linecruises.com; $75 round trip) and Steamship Authority (508-477-8600, http://www.steamshipauthority.com; $65).

For more info on all of the above: Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, 888-33-CAPECOD, http://www.capecodchamber.org.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.

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