Traveling to Asia doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Let Asia.com show you the way to save big money on your travel plans. Here’s just a few of the tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way in our own travels:
Take advantage of discount airlines
You don’t have to book all of your flights with a big airline. If you have multiple destinations in mind—for example, if you’re vacationing in Singapore but want to take a quick weekend trip to Hong Kong while you’re there—consider taking a local discount airline to save big money. These airlines typically aren’t big on amenities. You won’t get in-flight meals, the seats are small and sometimes not even reserved, there won’t be movies, and you’ll have to pay for all of your drinks. But, most of the local discount airlines specialize in short flights within the Asian continent that don’t involve more than a couple hours of flight time. The competition for short flights between major Asian cities is fierce, so expect to get some tremendous deals this way.
What’s the cheapest airline for traveling to Asia? There isn’t one. Just because you got a great deal on one airline the last time you went on vacation, doesn’t mean that same airline will give you the best deal this time. Air fares change rapidly according to a complex algorithm that nobody outside of a few mathematicians in the back office understand, so your best bet is to not get too attached to any single airline. Every time you travel, check multiple sites and multiple airlines to find your best price.
Lose the schedule
Cast a broad net. Planning is great, but do you really need to leave between 8 and 10 on Monday morning, and do you really have to stay for precisely nine days? The fact is, sometimes a flight might well be hundreds of dollars cheaper if you leave the next day, or even later the same day. Instead of insisting on leaving Monday, consider all flights between Sunday and Tuesday, and you will see a tremendous variance in price. (Tuesdays are usually cheaper.) At the same time, consider nearby airports as well. Instead of flying out of your local airport, you can consider taking a shuttle to one in a nearby town, and sometimes saving big money on your fare by flying out of an alternate airport.
Finally, once you’re arrived, don’t assume that you have to fly to all of your side-trip destinations. You can take in some of the local color and enjoy a more relaxed pace by taking a train, bus, or passenger boat. Train travel is plentiful throughout most of Asia, and often surprisingly inexpensive. You will find seats on the train to be larger than airplane seats, and sleeper compartments to be quite cozy. You do have to have an adventurous side though, as you are less likely to have English-speaking attendants—and the food is often sold by itinerant food vendors who hop on and off the train at each stop. So, if you need to order a special low-cal, low-salt, vegetarian meal ahead of time, then stick with the planes. But if you’re looking to add a little spice to your trip and get a good look at the countryside, then the train can be a great addition to your Asian vacation.