Asia Hopping

Help a Traveller » SEA

How do I get the lowest airfares to Asia?

I'm not convinced that the online booking sites I've visited truly have the lowest rates. They don't even support budget airlines. So I guess my question is - how do I get the cheapest (and I mean the cheapest) flights around SEA? I am planning a backpacking trip for me and my fiance. If you can point me to the budget airlines that would be great. All I know is Air Asia, but I'm sure there are plenty of others that I'm missing. I don't mind hopping from one airline to another if that saves us money. - Gringo - Guest

lowest airfares asia
Asia is one of the best budget destinations in the world, with cheap food, cheap accommodation, cheap shopping, and yes, cheap flights. However, the latter can be more challenging to find, and, you got that right, online booking sites don't always have the cheapest options.  Nonetheless, there are clever tricks that you can use to get better fares and reduce your ticket prices, even just a little:

1.    Are you coming from the US? Make LAX your starting point. Los Angeles has a larger volume of flights to Asia than other US cities, which makes prices more competitive. You can get good deals from reputable airlines like Southwest Airlines, Delta, Allegiant Air, and Jet Blue.
2.    Break up your flights. Not only will you get cheaper rates, you will also get to touch ground many great places on your way to your main destination. 
3.    Once in Asia, you can start hopping from one country to another using these budget airlines:

Cebu Pacific
Air Asia
Philippine Airlines Express
Tiger Airways
Lion Air

4.    Make big cities your gateway. Flying into major cities like Bangkok is cheaper than flying direct into smaller airports, like Chiang Mai, for example. If you want to save serious money, fly in to big cities and simply travel by land or by ferry to your destination.

If you can tell us where you are coming from, we can recommend a plan. But here's what I know based on experience. If you are coming from any part of Europe, fly to Bangkok and then hop to other Southeast Asian countries from there. Flights from key cities in Europe to Bangkok tend to be cheaper than flights to any other Asian city. Flying from London to BKK via Emirates, for example, will cost you just a little over $700, whereas flying from London to Siem Reap will cost over $1,000. From Bangkok, it's easy to get cheap flights to anywhere in Southeast Asia. You can go to the Philippines for less than $100 via Cebu Pacific, then to Cambodia for $80 or so. Once you are in Asia, there are plenty of low-fare budget carriers. They're pretty basic but the flights are short, anyway. Good luck!

Sebastian F.
Have you heard of the Star Alliance 'ASIA PASS'? It allows you to combine up to 10 flights and get discounts from member airlines, including Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, United, Ethiopia Airways, Thai,  Asiana, etc. Destinations include Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia - the whole of Southeast Asia, really - plus China, India, South Korea, and Japan. The Star Alliance airlines are not exactly 'budget' airlines, but there are some very good deals depending on when you are visiting.   It's worth a look.
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