Thursday, March 3, 2016

10 Travel Tips for A Cheap Getaway in Southeast Asia

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Southeast Asia is one of the emerging tourist destinations in the world. It has become a part of most travelers' itinerary in their journey around the world.. From pristine beaches, pagodas, mountains, UNESCO Heritage sites and delicious cuisines, the region has got it all for you.


Traveling across Southeast Asia does not need to be expensive. With careful planning, you can travel around the region cheaply and conveniently. Here are some tips and guidelines for a Cheap Getaway in Southeast Asia.

Plan ahead of time
It is important to plan your vacation at least three to six months before your actual travel. Airline ticket prices are lower when it's far from the travel dates. The closer the date when you book a flight, the more expensive the fare is. The same situation for some accommodations. Some hotels and hostels offer promo rates when you book in advance like GoHotels in the Philippines and Tune Hotels and Red Planet Hotels across Southeast Asia.

Set A Budget
You must set a budget like an estimated amount you can spend for the duration of your trip. I suggest you travel within your means. Meaning, don't go beyond what you can afford. Make sure you include at least 20% buffer in your budget to cover unforeseen expenses.

Draft an itinerary
You have to make a rough itinerary and polish it later on. You have to know when and where you want to go and how many days you will be staying in one place. It's good if you start your travel in a regional hub so you have lots of options to fly across the region. Start your journey in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or Bangkok. I suggest you use an excel sheet or a google sheet so you can update it anytime. 

Check for Flights at third party websites
If you are not certain where to go next or if you are looking for cheap fares, you can try Skypicker or Adioso. These booking sites let you search for flights for a specific destination or search by radius. This way, you can see which destination has a cheaper fare from where you'll be flying out. I once book my Yangon-Bangkok flight with Skypicker and saved around $10 compared to the airline website's booking system. So, before you book always try the next tip. It's also worth trying Skyscanner, Wego and Expedia

Compare prices of flights from third party sites and airline websites
Once you checked the fares at third party websites, go to the airline's website and check their rates. Most of the times, booking directly through the airline's website is much cheaper. Of course, as I mentioned above, sometimes you get lucky too, booking at third party websites. 

Consider flying with the Region's low-cost Carriers (LCC)
There are a number of Low Cost Carriers operating in Southeast Asia and beyond. You have AirAsia in Malaysia; Thai AirAsia and Nok Air in Thailand; Jetstar Asia, Scoot and Tiger Air in Singapore; Indonesia AirAsia and Lion Air in Indonesia; JetStar Asia and VietJetAir in Vietnam; and Philippines Air Asia and Cebu Pacific in the Philippines. These budget airlines often have promo fares so watch out for it regularly. Subscribe to their newsletter or follow their Facebook pages for updates.

Consider traveling by train or bus
If flights are expensive, consider traveling by bus or train. Actually it could save your accommodation cost of you travel an overnight bus or train to your next destination. It can also be fun traveling overland. I once tried traveling by train from Penang to Bangkok for almost 24 hours and I had so much fun. Also tried an overnight bus from Yangon to Bagan in Myanmar and the experience was delightful. Tourist buses are very comfortable. Check out 12Go Asia to book your train and bus tickets around SEA.

Checkout Regional Passes
Airasia has ASEAN Pass and Bangkok Airways and Lao Airlines offer Discovery Airpass to explore the region. Check them out and study if you can save on flight costs. These passes do not cover taxes and other fees so you have to be careful. I know some folks who were able to save a lot by using these passes. 

Check for Accommodation
Once you booked your flights or you polished your itinerary, consider booking your accommodation. Booking sites such as Expedia, Wego, Agoda and HostelBookers are great websites to begin your search. Do not book right away, compare prices. Most of the time, Agoda has cheaper rates but from time to time Expedia offers promotions exclusive to its members. I once saved around $20 after booking from Expedia. As mentioned above, try GoHotels, Red Planet Hotels and Tune Hotels as they offer really cheap rates when you book in advance.

Get A Travel Insurance
There are a lot of companies offering travel insurance. You don't know what's going to happen so make sure you spend a portion of your budget to purchase a travel insurance. I suggest you get an insurance from World Nomads. It's easy and it's affordable.