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Jan-March: TH, HK, JP?

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Oct 26th, 2016, 05:23 PM
  #1
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Join Date: May 2012
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Jan-March: TH, HK, JP?

I find myself planning three months' travel in Asia at rather short notice. First step is to block in the "big picture," secure award flights, and then start on the within-country details.

With squishy dates (depending on when I can snag flights to/from the US)

1. ...beginning of January: fly US to Thailand (airport depends on award availability/rules)

2. spend 6-7ish weeks in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia: perhaps start in Bangkok, then to the north CM/CR, then loop clockwise back down to BKK?)

3. latter part of February: fly Thailand to Hong Kong (5-7 days in HK & surrounding territories)

4. end of February: fly Hong Kong to Japan (again, airport depends on award availability/rules). 4-5 weeks to explore Japan

5. end of March/beginning of April: Japan back to the US.

I'm a slow traveler.

Does this sound like a decent framework? A lot will depend on award availability and rules, of course, but I need a starting place for working on flights.

Is there somewhere else I should explore? A colleague suggested trying to work in a quick stop in Seoul between HK and JP just to get a taste of Korea.

Once I have the framework/flights, I"ll post more specific questions about local trip logistics in the appropriate country forums. Meanwhile, I am reading like crazy!

I'm a solo, middle-aged, mid-budget traveler. It has been more than a decade since I was last in Asia, and I am greatly looking forward to it!

Thank you!
Meredydd is offline  
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Oct 26th, 2016, 06:10 PM
  #2
 
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With three months you can get a good flavor for several places. Be aware that the biggest danger of such a long trip is trying to do too much. You want enough time in each place to be able to explore. What are your interests? That can help us make recommendations. And I'm afraid that mid-budget means nothing. You would need to give us a per-night budget for us to be helpful with accommodations.

Be aware that moving from place to place gets expensive. If you want to stretch your budget, you'll want to stay in each place longer - with some exceptions. Hong Kong is the most expensive city in Asia for hotel rooms. Japan is relatively more expensive than most other places; Thailand, Cambodia and Laos are less expensive.

Take a look at a good weather site - I like www.weatherbase.com - to get a sense of the temperatures you will encounter.

And be aware of visa requirements. What passport do you travel on?

Happy planning!
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Oct 26th, 2016, 06:31 PM
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Which airline FF program(s) are your miles with? What airport(s) in the US do you want to use?
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Oct 26th, 2016, 06:59 PM
  #4
kja
 
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I'm jealous! ;-)

I can really only comment on your question about Seoul. I enjoyed my time in there, but I don't believe it really gives "a taste of Korea" -- it is unlike any of the other places in South Korea that I visited in a full month in that country. And it is a city that is easily fit into many trips to various parts of Asia, as many airlines route through Incheon. So if you have a burning desire to see Seoul on this trip, go for it; if your purpose is to get a sense of what South Korea is like, you might want to wait until you can give that country some time and instead devote your time to the destinations you target. JMO.
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Oct 26th, 2016, 07:31 PM
  #5
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Thank you for the prompt replies. And I apologize for my inquiry being so vague, but I am just beginning to flexh out a plan, and feel some pressure to lock down long-haul flights, as this trip will begin in holiday/high season.

I really will badger you for more help with details when I know countries and time available!

Yes, I am leery of traveling to quickly: it is exhausting and one sees more of the insides of buses and trains than anything else! And one has no chance to explore. Thus, for example, in TH I would eschew the south/beaches, and instead concentrate on BKK and north (I prefer mountains to beaches anyway). Perhaps a week in BKK, two weeks in CM and northern environs, and then a loop down through Laos and Cambodia, ending back in BKK for example. That might fit 7-ish weeks quite nicely. Or not. It needs to be penciled out.

With "only" a month in Japan, I would not attempt Hokkaido or even northern Honshu. And even then I will have to be very selective to balance transit time vs non-transit (as well as being cognizant of surface travel costs. When I have a firmer plan for JP, I will need to sort whether a JR pass makes sense, and if so for how long.).

In HK I want to explore outside the city; in the past, I've just been in the city proper and then for only 1-2 nights.

I hold both US and UK passports.

I have miles with AA (~300K), UA (~225) and BA (~113K Avios). Ideally I would fly out of Texas (AUS is first choice,but DFW, SAT and IAH are do-able). With Avios I can reposition to another gateway city if necessary. Alas, I only have status with AA (Plat) and it expires in Feb 2017.

I do not want to squander all my points on this trip, as I plan extensive international travel in the next 3-5 years (South America, Aus/Nz, and eastern/southern Africa, are on the big-trip list). In atleast one year -- if I can plan well enough in advance -- I will probably buy flights in order to top up my miles banks.

Average per night accommodation for the entire trip -- using Thailand, Laos and Cambodia to offset costs in HK and JP -- is $75/night. In Europe I use hostels and budget guesthouses, so no need for high-star accommodation. HK has good "poshtels."

So, with this additional information, does my proposed three-country slow loop make sense? Or is there a better or more interesting way to link TH and JP (which are my two "must" countries)?

Thank you!
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Oct 27th, 2016, 10:12 AM
  #6
 
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You can find a lot of award availability for the trip you want, at the United website, anyway. The thing I would not do is book all one-way awards.

I just did some award searching at the United website. Route is: Austin- Bangkok- Hong Kong- Osaka, Tokyo-Austin

There's lots of economy award availability (as I assume you dates are flexible). I searched each leg separately and the total is 115,000 miles.

Then I used the multi-city award search, putting the whole trip on one ticket and the total was 97,000 miles.

The difference, 17,500 miles, is the cost of a one-way BKK->HKG. With the multi-city search the cost of that leg was shown 0 miles.

ANA has nonstops from HKG to Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo. You can probably connect to/from other Japan cities at the same cost in miles.
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Oct 27th, 2016, 10:22 AM
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Sure, your itinerary makes sense. You can find lodging in Japan in your price range. Terms for inexpensive lodging in Japan: business hotel, minshuku, people's lodge, and, of course, hostels.

A ryokan stay can be inexpensive for those Japanese inns that have room-only price. Typically, a ryokan offers meals plus lodging and the meals (dinner + breakfast) part of a stay likely would cost more than the lodging only.
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Oct 27th, 2016, 06:52 PM
  #8
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Thank you, Mrwunrfl!

I've seen you posts about using awards elsewhere on this forum; they are very informative to an awards noobie like me!

This gives me a place to start. Using Star Alliance is probably a better idea than OneWorld.

Thanks again for taking the time to search.
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Oct 28th, 2016, 09:38 AM
  #9
 
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yw. Using Star Alliance miles makes sense because Thai is a partner. I noticed that most of the routing options for AUS-BKK went via Europe, Frankfurt and London, to connect to a Thai flight. There were also a couple of options across the Pacific. In all cases, it took 2 stops for AUS-BKK.

You sh/could take a look at using AA or BA miles, especially because of that AUS-lHR nonstop on BA. You might be able to get a 1-stop trip to BKK. Then oneworld partners Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines for the rest of the trip.

Am sure there would be many oneworld 2-stop options for AUS-BKK that are as good or better than what *A has. I'd be interested in taking JAL and making an overnight stop (less than 24 hours) at Narita on the way to BKK.
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