Husband and wife duo Valarie Brown and Michael Coon are veteran travelers, first as avid enthusiasts and later as travel program managers for the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, leading culinary tours to Asia, Latin America, and throughout the Mediterranean.
While their early discoveries include the gastronomic wonders of Sicily and Sardinia and the sophisticated cuisine of Paris and Provence, their newest finds are the treasures and delicate, multi-flavored curries coming from the ethnic hill tribes of Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Arts, culture, history and religion are central to their programs, as is a belief in giving something back to the countries and families they visit -- something, they call "communing." Building bamboo huts, donating a water buffalo or a stove to an orphanage or needy family are just a few ways they enrich the experience of each visitor and featured country.
So whether you are seeking the familiar comforts of Tuscany's rolling vineyards and B&Bs, or the challenges of new cultures and villages yet explored, they have the inside scoop on where to stay, who to meet and what to see. Join them on one of their scheduled tours, or ask them to design one for you.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
What does an Inside Route/Global Spectrum tour consist of?
The majority of our trips consists of all-inclusive land packages which include accommodations, transportation and transfers; English-speaking guides (local or national), sightseeing and entrance fees, meals as indicated in the itinerary, and emergency medical evacuation/repatriation insurance. You will be advised if any of these items are not included in your tour package. Usually not included are tips, drinks, travel or health insurance, and items of a personal nature such as laundry.
What can I expect from an Inside Route itinerary?
Our carefully planned itinerary maximizes each day, starting early and finishing well after sunset. You will have a well-balanced mix of cultural immersion, cooking instructions, sightseeing, and physical activities for each day. There is also free time allotted for your own exploring, shopping, or relaxation.
Who are my tour leaders?
The quality of the guide can make or break a trip! Our "in-country" guides are personally selected based on their experience, command of English, knowledge of the local culture and history, communication skills, interpersonal and leadership abilities, problem solving skills, and an understanding of the needs of the North American traveler.
In addition to a local guide, a western escort with particular expertise will accompany the group to further enhance the experience of the trip on many of our special interest, adventure, and culinary group tours.
Where will I stay?
We generally book superior hotels (4 star) for our programs. Although modern-day Myanmar has hotels ranging from budget to five-star, deluxe properties are located only in the major cities. Throughout the rest of the country, traditional style accommodations with varying levels of private facilities exist. Our tour operator constantly stays abreast of hotel developments in order to offer our clients the best available and most appropriate accommodations. This might mean a five-star resort or a "traditional house". Our programs often dictate what type of accommodation is used.
How will I get around in-country?
The Southeast Asian countries included in our tours have national airlines that we use within the individual countries. International and regional carriers fly Inter-Asia.
Non-air transportation ranges from a fleet of modern vehicles such as mini-vans to the traditional riverboats, private sampans, horse-carts, ox-carts, rickshaws, or cyclos! The means of transportation used during a tour will depend on the size of the group and the areas being visited.
Can the Inside Route arrange air transportation for me?
Through our tour operator, Global Spectrum, their experienced in-house air-ticketing department is capable of handling all domestic and international flights.
What is the local money called? Can I use credit cards? Travelers Checks? ATM Machines?
Currency: Myanmar Kyat. In Myanmar, credit cards and traveler's checks are rarely accepted, even in major hotels. ATM machines are presently unavailable; US dollars, preferably crisp clean bills, are accepted almost everywhere.
When is the best time to travel?
The climate in Myanmar is tropical with three seasons. The southwest monsoon starts at the end of May and lasts through October. The dry more temperate weather starts in November and runs through February which is the best time to travel here. Temperatures between March and May can be very hot.