Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Asia (
-   -   Jet lag to Asia/worst via Europe or over Pacific ocean? (

Ted Dec 17th, 2001 05:03 AM

Jet lag to Asia/worst via Europe or over Pacific ocean?
I am planning a trip from New York City to Thailand. We have a choice of going via London, then non stop to Bangkok, or non stop to Tokyo, then another non stop to Bangkok. Each route is exactly the same distance and about the same flight times. My question to the board is: which way will give us the most jet lag?<BR><BR>Also, do you recomend sleeping pills to help us sleep and get over jet lag?

Florence Dec 17th, 2001 05:16 AM

In my opinion, it depends more on the length of the stopover in either places than in the route. The worst situation is in having to spend a number of hours in an airport when you're jetlagged and bored. I would take whatever option involves either just enough time for a drink and last minute shopping or at least one night and enough time for visiting the city.

andrew Dec 17th, 2001 06:50 AM

My suggestion would be sleeping pills ... this way jet leg is a non-issue or at worst significantly minimized.

Florence Dec 17th, 2001 08:48 AM

Sorry Andrew, jet leg requires lots of fluids and moving at regular intervals in the plane aisle ... (sorry, couldn't resist).

phil Dec 17th, 2001 09:54 AM

Ted,<BR>It depends. My wife and I flew to Hong Kong via Tokyo in First Class. We were pretty well rested when we got there. I would say that in either direction, if you are sitting in First or Business, you'll be o.k. for sleep.<BR><BR>What also helped is that we arrived in Hong Kong at about 11 p.m after flying into the sun for most of the time. Getting there at night helped our bodies adjust pretty quickly. Does this change on either direction?<BR><BR>Also, it would seem the NY-Tokyo leg would be equal to the London-Bangkok leg in terms of time. Would you rather fly the initial flight as 6 hours or 13?<BR><BR>

JP Dec 17th, 2001 10:15 AM

If it's true jet lag you're talking about, the experts say it's better to fly west, and that sleeping pills actually make it worse. If it's more a matter of how tired you feel after the flight, I prefer westbound for that, too. If your schedule from NY is similar to ours from Minneapolis, you have a verrrrry long day from home to Bangkok and you can get to your hotel in time to sleep at night. Eastbound you have overnights involved and it's harder to get back on schedule once you get there.

andrew Dec 17th, 2001 11:59 AM

Florence, for me sleeping pills worked well ... I commuted to Australia (Sydney) from New York every two weeks for 6 months and it worked like a charm ... it's probably one of the longest trips out there and the tiem fo teh day / seasons are roughly opposite. Agree taht there are other ways to dela with the jet lag, but this was the only way that I could get to work as soon as I got off the plane.

Florence Dec 17th, 2001 12:43 PM

Andrew, sorry I'm not very good at jokes in English. I also use sleeping pills from Switzerland to Tokyo and it works well. However, all depends if I have a stopover, in which case it won't. Beside that, not everybody respond well to sleeping pills. <BR><BR>Opinions on which direction makes jet lag worse diverge. I've heard (and that's also the way I feel) it is always worse on the way back home, for psychological reasons like the "end of vacation blues".

wayne Dec 17th, 2001 10:23 PM

Good question. Firstly,I would prefer to fly into the night as my body clock would be aligned to the darkness outside and I can sleep.<BR><BR>Secondly, it is easier to fly westwards. However, I would prefer to fly thru London as it only takes 9 hrs before the next break and then 13 hrs to Bangkok.<BR><BR>The Tokyo route would take 15 hours and 7 hrs thereafter making the journey unbearably long. <BR><BR>Thirdly I wouldnt take sleeping pills as they upset my bioclock.I prefer melatonin.

DJ Dec 18th, 2001 07:11 PM

Ted, since I don't know how long your stopover is in either London or Bangkok, I'd choose the QUICKEST route -- ie shortest layover. <BR><BR>From the posts here, it seems that different things work for different people. I spend about 80% of my life on the road, and the direction (ie. east or west) doesn't seem to make a difference to me. It's what I do on the flight (ie. plenty of fluids, getting up and walking around frequently) and doing some light exercise and stretching when I touch down. Long stopovers just take the starch out of me (the 6-hour layovers via United Airlines at Narita Airport in Tokyo used to knock me right out).<BR><BR>I'd personally advise against sleeping pills, but it seems to work for some people...

Jone Dec 20th, 2001 07:03 AM

The effect of jet lag is more serious when you fly eastward. That's what I read from an article.

Nigel Tuffnel Dec 20th, 2001 09:25 AM

IF Asia is called the Far East, how can I get there going West? Suppose where I live is called the North East, in order to get to the far east, don't I have to pass the mid-east? <BR><BR>If I go West, it stops at the West Coast. If Asia was West of that, it would be called the Far West. So you have to go East to get there.<BR><BR><BR><BR>

lynn Dec 20th, 2001 09:56 AM

Ted -<BR><BR>Personally, I would choose to fly through Tokyo. We've done this 5 times.<BR><BR>As for jetlag, you should try BOTH a sleeping med AND melatonin.<BR><BR>What we do is this:<BR><BR>Get on the plane and sleep as much as possible with some help from a half dose of zolpidem (Ambien) if you need it. When you arrive in Bangkok, take a melatonin right before bed along with another 1/2 dose of zolpidem. We always do this the first four nights and we adjust very well. If you don't need the sleeping help then don't bother but we find it helps us get a few solid nights of rest which help switch our clock over.<BR><BR>Then, upon returning home, do the same thing again. Take a melatonin along with a 1/2 dose of zolipdem right before bed for the first 4 nights you are home. And drink plenty of water. It really helps you get a good nights rest and assists in switching your clock back to home time. <BR><BR>We just did this again (returned Dec. 2nd from 3 weeks in SEA) and it worked like a charm. Last year, we forgot to do our little "routine" and had jetlag for a month after returning home. This year, we were about 95% adjusted within the first 5-6 days and fully adjusted within 10 days.<BR><BR>Check with your doctor for a prescription for the zolpidem. It's great stuff. No side effects or groggy feeling. Don't even bother with the over-the-counter stuff.<BR><BR>Lynn<BR><BR>:-)

navyflyer Dec 20th, 2001 10:29 AM

If you go the westward route, it will be almost entirely in daylight and for me that is not a problem. I have problems on the way back because you repeat the same day you left and the 13-14 hour time difference takes its toll when I return to the East Coast. It took me two days to recover. Being in the military, I am used to odd hours but I know everyone is different. Good luck. It will be a lot of flying either way.

Chris Dec 30th, 2001 12:48 PM

Been flying the route for years. These days, the layovers in Tokyo Narita are usually quite short and the US airlines such as NW are the cheapest. But, I have to say, via Europe is definitely easier on the system.

John G Dec 31st, 2001 12:59 PM

I personally think that it depends upon what time you land. It is best to land at night, go right to your hotel and then to bed. Landing in the morning, then trying to stay awake all day while you tour is very hard on your system. Try and book the flight that will having you arriving in Bangkok at night.

Bali Lama Jan 1st, 2002 09:20 PM

In flying from Hawaii to Bangkok (not your half-way-round-the-world trip), I used to get jet-lag so badly that I was literally 4 days in bed upon arrival, unable to get out. I'd no sooner plant my feet on the ground and say I was feeling better; then I'd fall over again backwards in exhaustion. No joke. It was terrible.<BR> <BR>About a year ago, I discovered a homeopathic product called "No-Jet-Lag" which is available at You take two tablets on take-off and two tablets every four hours while in flight. <BR><BR>The last time I flew to Hawaii on this stuff, I had been travelling for 3 solid days between Bali, K.L. and Singapore before taking off out of SIN for HNL. Upon arrival in Hawaii, I hit the ground running at 9AM, stayed up all day until about 10PM and went to sleep like a baby with the rest of the locals. <BR><BR>At this point, with "No-Jet-Lag" under my belt, I too am ready for the big 24-hour flight between South East Asia and East Coast USA where my family is from. My suggestion about "No-Jet-Lag" is "Don't leave home without it." <BR><BR>Truly,<BR>Bali Lama

lze Jan 1st, 2002 11:46 PM

Hi Ted, We went to China last May via Seoul, Korea. We left LA and flew non stop to Seoul and then flew direct to Beijing. It was not bad. I asked my doctor about sleeping pills before leaving and he gave me a perscription. My adivce would be for you to also consult your doctor first. I took one of them on the way over and one on the way back. The jetlag did not bother me on the way over. We were thrown into touring immediately and really didn't have time to even think about it. On the way home however was different. I had 5 seats to myself on the airplane and streatched out and had taken a pill and slept good. The jetlag however was terrible. Took me an entire week to get back to normal. Whatever you decide, have a great time. It really is an experience of a life time.

cjw Jan 2nd, 2002 10:46 AM

Ted - I think John G makes the most important point. If you try to stay up that fist day you may find yourself sick or in the hospital from exhaustion. I don't care who you (except for the one 1st class post) flying to the other side of the world wipes you out. And what is the deal with the floks saying about flying into day or into the night??? What airline dosen't serve their first meal and then crank up the heat and tell everyone to put down there blinds - so it becomes night no matter what is going on outside the plane. I like to take the long haul first just because mentally i fell like i'm more of the way there whichs gives me the mental energy to hang in there - it's almost over. Drink tons of water, walk around alot and get an exit row seat----and to the first class post---it must be rough!!! no wonder you were rested - hang in the cattle class and see how it feels<BR><BR>Happy travels!

Caarol Jan 4th, 2002 10:51 PM

Ted, I couldn't tell you which route is worse, but I can tell you that the return flight from Hong Kong to LA used to wipe me out for days until I started using No jet lag ( The trip to AP never seemed to bother me, but I ALWAYS take the red eye and as soon as I get on the plane I reset my watch to China time and start to reprogram my body clock (which means I stay awake for the first 8 hours of the flight and then go to sleep around 11 pm China time). <BR><BR>My answers - over the counter drugs, reprogrammig to the destination time zone and lots of water and periodic walks (which seem to just happen when you are drinking lots of water).

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:41 PM.