Air Travel in Thailand and Viet Nam

Apr 30th, 2012, 01:05 PM
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Air Travel in Thailand and Viet Nam

My wife and I are planning our first visit to Southeast Asia (first trip anywhere in Asia, for that matter) in August. We like to put together our trips ourselves and except for a few minor glitches over the years we've done ok. I'm attending to details of the trip right now and I have a question for all you seasoned Fodorite travelers out there. Is it a good idea to wait until we arrive at our initial destination (Bangkok) to book and purchase airline tickets within the region? I have read that by waiting until arrival in-country you save big on the fares. I'm all for saving a buck but it worries me (I'm old now so I tend to worry alot) that we might encounter sold-out flights that would screw up the itinerary we have set for ourselves. Specifically, we wish to travel from Bangkok to Phuket on Aug. 17 and from Hanoi to Bangkok on Aug. 30. I'm tempted to buy the tickets here and now and not leave the availability to chance but I've done some checking and it does appear that I'll be paying double what I would pay if I wait until our arrival in Thailand. Clue me in, please.
Gallivanter is offline  
Apr 30th, 2012, 01:55 PM
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Back in the old days (really a long time ago) it made sense to wait until you were in country to buy plane tickets. But that hasn't been true in a couple of decades. Especially if you want to fly a budget carrier like Air Asia you want to book as eaerly as possible. Booking earlier = lower prices.

I'm not sure where you found prices that made it look like you'll pay double by booking now. Tell us.

PS Do you really want to go to Phuket in August? It is likely to be rainy and beaches are likely to be red-flagged. There are other beaches in Thailand that will have better weather. See here:
Kathie is offline  
Apr 30th, 2012, 07:36 PM
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Thanks for your reply. When I say doubling the price here's what I base that on. KAYAK quotes a $59. fare on Air Asia on 8/17 between Bangkok and Phuket. The best fare I can find on Expedia for that date is $150. on Bangkok Air. I have wondered if Expedia is quoting a net cost while KAYAK is showing a base to which various charges will be added. Haven't checked that out and don't know. KAYAK quotes a $107. fare on Thai Air on 8/30 between Hanoi and Bangkok. I admit a fare of $118. is available on Qatar Air for that date but we must leave at 11:35 PM and arrive in Bangkok at 1:25 AM. I believe we mentioned we're old as dirt; we don't want to travel at that hour if I can avoid it. We can suck it up and do it but we'd rather not. Beyond that there are a few flights in the $300.+ range (3 times the KAYAK rate) that are from six to seventeen hours in duration because of poor connections at the single stop along the way. The cheapest viable flight I could find on Expedia was on Thai Air at $411. By the way, I tried to book those cheap flights on KAYAK. They handed me off to two websites I have never heard of and they would not allow me to make the booking. Don't know why. Yes, we're aware we may get drenched in Phuket but we've decided to take our chances. If they have some good bars we'll be fine.
Gallivanter is offline  
Apr 30th, 2012, 08:17 PM
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The difference is, Air Asia is a budget carrier, Bangkok Airways is not. The fare on Air Asia will not include checked baggage or seat assignment or insurance or in-flight meal. These will add another $10 or so, but the ticket will still be less than Bangkok Air, which styles itself a boutique airline. Your ticket on BA will include a seat of your choice, in-flight meal, and access to their passenger lounges (which are open to all passengers).

Air Asia is good for short hops around the region, where comfort and food in-flight is not such a big deal.

Kayak does not handle bookings, ever. They are effectively a search engine, period. Once you've selected what they've found, they hand you off to the site that provided the quote they showed you.

If you want the cheapest flights, you're probably better off going directly to Air Asia's web site rather than fiddling with Kayak. On the other hand, if you're flying around SE Asia a lot on this trip, you may want to look at Bangkok Air's discovery pass, which bundles several flights together at a discounted rate. Check their web site for details.
MichaelBKK is offline  
May 1st, 2012, 06:55 AM
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Michael is exactly right. I'm not sure what gave you the impression you could get the Air Asia price in SE Asia but not in North America or Europe. Because Air Asia is a budget airline, you can only buy directly from Air Asia, not from a travel agent or a travel website like expedia. If you want to fly Air Asia, book as soon as you know your dates for sure (as Air Asia will not refund or reschedule). Air Asia prices go up (a lot) the closer you get to the flight date. You are likely to have some difficulty booking on their website, you may have to call your credit card company in advance so the charge will go through.

Michael's point about the Bangkok Air Discovery Pass is an excellent one. If you are flying three or more legs on routes Bangkok Air flies, the Discovery Pass is a real bargain. You must buy the pass before you get to SE Asia. The Discovery Pass would especially be a great deal if you decide to go to Koh Samui rather than Phuket, as the flights to Koh Samui are expensive. With the Discovery Pass, they are much more affordable. Read about the Discovery Pass at the Bangkok Air website, and also do a search here for info on how to book it.
Kathie is offline  
May 1st, 2012, 07:28 AM
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i would not wait... i buy direct from the carrier... i like air asia but it has the added costs of seat selection (which i suggest you do and pick seats up front limited luggage (pay for extra luggage). lately i have been flying thai air for a little bit higher price and no luggage worries.

from VN use vietnam air, air asia or thai air... some times you can find an air france flt too.


a very nice hotel (s) 1 hour north of phuket is the jw marriott and le meridien, both in khao lak... far nicer than anything in phuket. i rent a car and drive there (easy), but you can take a taxi or hotel car too. both are lux and will have low august costs ( or )

book early for best pricing...
rhkkmk is offline  
May 1st, 2012, 08:20 AM
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I booked 3 legs of our SEAsia trip this past winter with the BKK Discovery Pass. U may call them on 866-226.4565 or directly to their NYC office on 212-279-6602. After calling them I found emailing with them easier, [email protected]. I researched the flights I wanted and them emailed them. I could not get one of the flights we needed and they suggested alternate flights, It was very straightforward thru email. However if u are only looking at the 2 legs u mention in your post, Discovery Pass will not work for u.

I also booked online for Air Asia flights. Had a bit of difficulty with their website and initially couldn't book the flights. Switched to a laptop computer and for some reason, the sale finally went thru. Be aware that the default is to purchase their insurance. On one of our flights we did not catch this and got charged for the insurance which we never did manage to get refunded. Its easy to pay online in advance for your luggage allowance and less expensive to do so. If u find as u travel u need to up your luggage allowance u may do so online before your flight. Again, that insurance feature pops up. We did not pay to book our seats in advance and did get seats at check in together and towards the front.

Vietnam Airlines flies from Hanoi to BKK. I would just go to the airlines websites and see who offers the best fare and book thru their websites.

Have a great trip!
yestravel is offline  
May 1st, 2012, 12:08 PM
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Thanks to each of you for your input. This info gives me a plan to run with. Hope to complete the bookings in next day or two.
Gallivanter is offline  
May 1st, 2012, 12:26 PM
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rhkkmk, we're staying at Marriott's Mai Khao Beach timeshare resort about ten miles outta town.
Gallivanter is offline  
May 1st, 2012, 07:24 PM
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fantastic... i'm sure you will love it.
rhkkmk is offline  
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