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corysnyder28 Jan 31st, 2005 12:16 PM

Need Advice: NYC -> (Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong) for 6 weeks
Hi everybody,
My GF and I are planning on taking a 6-week trip from NYC to Seoul, Tokyo, and Hong Kong

(not necessarily in that order) around June and July this year. We'd like to hit the Expo

in Aichi and spend some time visiting her family in Seoul.

Beyond that, our plans are wide open.

We're just in the planning phases of the trip, and we had some preliminary questions.

1) What's the best type of air ticket to get for a trip like this?

2) Can anybody suggest a site/travel agent that might specialize in such an itinerary?

3) How hard is inter-country travel around these parts?

4) Of those three destinations, is there an order that "makes sense" from a geographic or

logistical stand point?

And, lastly, for those with experience traveling around these parts, how might you

organize a 6-week itinerary?

Thanks so much for your help!


cruisinred Jan 31st, 2005 01:06 PM

You may want to check out the All Asia Pass from Cathay Pacific.

The pass cover travel from NYC to all of the places you mentioned, and several others. The price does go up by$300 in the summer, but it may still be a good deal for your itinerary, and Cathay is a nice airline.

rkkwan Jan 31st, 2005 02:22 PM

The Cathay Pacific All Asia Pass is $1,099 for 2005, plus $350 summer surchage, and tax (~$51 for US/JFK, $20 for Tokyo, $24 for Seoul), . Plus, additional charge to length the use of the pass beyond 21 days. (45days = $200) Total is over $1,700 if you add those up. And you need to fly to Hong Kong first, and you must fly through HKG between Tokyo and Seoul. Therefore, you'll be spending way more time in the air then you need to. Finally, no FF miles earned.

I did a search on and then confirmed it on that you can indeed book a JFK-NRT-ICN-HKG-JFK itinerary with mostly non-stop flights, for $1,601, all in, on a mostly AA itinerary. This is much better than CX's All Asia Pass in this case, and you should be able to earn AAdvantage FF miles on some of the legs.

But before you book it with AA, consult a local travel agent specialized in Asian travel. They may be able to find you an even better fare.

rkkwan Jan 31st, 2005 02:28 PM

Just want to add that you don't have to go New York - Tokyo - Seoul - Hong Kong - New York. The reverse may actually be better because the heat may be a little more tolerable in Tokyo than Hong Kong in July. Hit the hottest place (Hong Kong) first in June.

Plenty of non-stop flights between Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong to choose from; but in terms of flight schedule and airlines used, Seoul should be in the middle of your itinerary and not as an entry/exit point from the US.

Cicerone Feb 1st, 2005 12:27 AM

1. Getting the best flight price is a mystery to me; all the offers, all the conditions etc. Do some hunting around but do not drive yourself crazy. You will undoubtedly see cheaper and more expensive flights after you have booked. Read the conditions for the air passes carefully, many require that you transfer through their hub; as mentioned above in the case of Cathay Pacific, this would require that you transfer through Hong Kong; which is a LONG way out of the way when flying between Seoul and Tokyo. Look at flight times and layover times. IMO it is worth paying extra for a non-stop than taking chances on connections and making a long flight even longer. As you are going to disparate places, an air pass is probably not the best option for you, some kind of point to point is what you need. The only place you may do intra-country flying is China or Thailand, you can buy round trip tickets separately or see if they can be added to your point to point.

2. Canít suggest a travel agent, hopefully others can. I would use them to book flights and maybe hotels, but would not suggest you do an organized tour (which does not seem what you want anyway). It is very easy to plan this and do this on your own.

3. Getting around Hong Kong is extremely easy and cheap (even taxis are cheap), getting to outlying islands is also easy. There is not a lot of to see in the immediate PRC area around Hong Kong, if you have the time and inclination you can fly or train to places like Beijing, Xian, etc. Getting around in the interior of Japan is very easy as they have an excellent public transport system. I believe the bus system in South Korea is good, not so sure about rail; your GF relatives would be the best source for this. I would suggest you rely on them for advice on what to see and do in South Korea, as this way you will get the actual flavour of the country and not just see the shopping centres and few sights in Seoul that most US tourists see. Esp for restaurants and sights that Korean believe are important. (For example, if non-US friends come to the US, I would show them the Grand Canyon and not Las Vegas.) You will need a visa for China, and it takes a few weeks to organize. You do not need a visa for Japan or Korea unless you plan to stay for more than 90 and 30 days respectively.

4. Itís kind of up to you, IMO, as to how you want to do the order of the trip. There is something to be said for going to Seoul first as you can recover from jet lag, get a gentle introduction to Asia with a family that speaks the language, etc. You can then head out refreshed to Japan where language will be more of an issue, and end in Hong Kong where language is no issue. You could also do the reverse. You might want to ask your GF if her family would be at all offended if you did not come to them first, they may view this as a lack of enthusiasm for Korea or for them (I lived in Asia a long time, things are interpreted differently there is all I can say.) Also, your GF may be anxious to see her family first. I agree Hong Kong is a bit cooler in June, but it is really quite relative, it is simply bloody hot and humid from late April through November.

It is hard to plan an itinerary before you give more info. Do you want cities or countryside, outdoor activities like climbing, hiking or diviing, or do you prefer museums. Is shopping important to you? Do you have an interest in temples and culture or do you prefer to relax by sitting on a beach? How long do you and your GF want to spend in Korea, and how long in each other destination? With 6 weeks you can cover a lot of ground.

Cicerone Feb 1st, 2005 03:16 AM

Sorry, I see now that your question was about travel between countries (inter-country) rather than travel within a country (intra-country). Distances are vast in Asia, so flying is really the only option to get around between countries. There is a well-developed flight network among all major and many minor cities in Asia, and several good local carriers like Dragon Air and some new discount local Asian carriers in Thailand.

As I mentioned above, within China you can fly between cities (quickest and usually most expensive) or train (takes longer but is not expensive). In Thailand, flying is the best option between places like Bangkok and Chiang Mai or Phuket, although overland is possible, cheaper and with 6 weeks is not out of the range of possibility for you.

You do not need a visa for Hong Kong, just for the PRC. I assume your GF has a US passport, if not she may need a visa for Japan or Hong Kong. Check embassy websites.

laurie_ann Feb 1st, 2005 09:59 AM

One suggestion I have seen (but have not used) for best prices on international air travel is a travel agent who focuses on natives of that country who reside in the U.S., for example Chinese-Americans or Korean-Americans. If I remember I have seen that in Frommers Budget Travel magazine. Their archived articles are available for a small fee at I checked and the article I was thinking of is called "Wanna Fly Cheap? Go Ethnic (Even If You're Not Ethnic)". Have fun planning your trip!

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