need advice on planning 1st Asia trip

Aug 11th, 2004, 10:41 PM
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mayne a tour is not that usefull since your husbend is on busness and schedualling and changing things may be more difficult if you choose a tour.

if you have a miles program keep that in mind when comperasin shopping for airlines.
orgy7 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2004, 01:55 PM
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Me again!

After all your good advice I began to look at airfares within Asia for all the legs of our trips.

This part is not as easy as I had hoped.

Although I have read several articles on the coming of low cost airlines, I can't seem to get a handle on how to book these flights.

We need again:

I was told that I can book all of these with my flight from the US, but I am thinking about using frequent flyer points from the US to Tokyo first and not sure if this would work.

And given my husbands allowance from his company to go to Seoul first, we are a bit lost on how to do this.

As you all know at the same time of my posting, I did inquire with some companies.

Abercrombie and Kent did quote me $1745.00 per two for the inner Asia flights. I'd like to get this down to no more than $1000,possible??

How to do this? Help!

tripgirl is offline  
Aug 12th, 2004, 02:54 PM
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The tricky and possibly expensive flight is NRT-PEK. PEK-HKG and HKG-BKK can be bought cheaply after you get there. Expect to pay about US$200 for PEK-HKG one-way, and <US$150 for HKG-BKK from local agents.

See what kind of prices your agent here can get you for NRT-PEK. Also ask around in or locally for travel agents specialized in Japan travel. They can probably find you lower fares for that leg.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 12th, 2004, 04:48 PM
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You couldse your award to fly to Tokyo, make a stopover there, then fly on to Beijing. Buy a ticket for PEK- HKG- BKK and return to PEK and pick up your award flight home.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Aug 12th, 2004, 05:33 PM
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Hi. A couple of years ago I was in the same boat. Had been to Europe many times, but never to Asia. I booked a Pacific Delight package to Bangkok and had an incredible time. If you do a search here using "Pacific Delight" and limiting the search to Thailand, you will definitely find my trip report from January of 2002, which I think might interest you. I recommend Pacific Delight very highly -- and this is coming from a person who never buys packages when traveling -- I always go independently. But the price they got me was incredible. If you look at you can check out all the various deals they have to different Asian cities. What I liked was that it included airfare and hotel and a couple of tours (mostly just me and one other woman), but lots of time on my own. And I liked that someone picked me up at the airport and gave me maps and suggestions on various tours. You could do as much or as little as you wanted with others -- but having a driver and guide for at least part of the time was invaluable. I would go back on my own (and am in November), but was glad my first time was with a little help. Make no mistake: travel in Thailand is a little different (obviously) than travel in Europe. The time difference is larger, the travel time to get there is larger, the culture shock is larger, and the number of people who speak English is fewer. But it's fantastic. I absolutely fell in love with Thailand just as I did with France and Italy. One option for you to think about is to book the air yourself but use them for your hotel stays. But they may be able to book you inexpensive flights from city to city, and get you good deals within each city.

In Bangkok I would definitely recommend staying on the river (which I did not do last time, but am this time). The top five on the river in BKK are (not necessarily in this order) the Oriental, Peninsula, Shangri-La, Marriott Resort & Spa, and Sheraton Royal Orchid.

I hope your first encounter with Asia is as magical as mine was.
lisa is offline  
Aug 12th, 2004, 09:36 PM
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I agree with MRWNFRL. you should check out that star alience segment pass... it includes your flight from dullas to NRT where you can choose from up too 5 flights a day using either UNited. al nippon, and thai airways. Star has hnnds down the best network in asia so choosing covinient flights should not be that hard..

orgy7 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 05:35 AM
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I actually called United to ask about the Star Alliance Asian Pass for tripgirl's trip because I wanted to know. Judy gave a price of $190 plus tax between HKG and BKK but was not able to get fares involving Beijing or Tokyo. Also, ANA is not available with that pass.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Aug 13th, 2004, 09:21 AM
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Thank you once again all for your advice! You are all so gracious!

Re; airfares

I did indeed try the star alliance route as and you found out, we have a problem with the pass because it only covers South East Asia and we have a problem with the rest of the route. I spoke to Singapore Airlines. Singapore, United, Asiatic and Thai are the participating airlines. I could nto get through to Asiatic and once I spoke with Singapore with the results given, there was no point to call United or Thai.

But we'll keep working on it. Do you think it is realistic to pay no more than $1000-$1500 in Asian air for the two of us on this itinerary?
We have not even worked on my awards fare yet, so as you suggested I try and book to Beijing with a stopover in Tokyo? Never did this before on awards, it is possible?


Lisa, thank you for your insight into Pacific Delights. I had already researched them, but perhaps not too well myself. I looked only briefly and did not find what you had perhaps experienced. The tours looked all escorted and with a group. Perhaps there is a seperate section on the web site for packages only? I'll look again. Not opposed to trying all avenues.

However, in between all this great advice from all of you, I have been doing alot of research.

Here is what I'd like to do if I plan this all myself. I also would like to tell you the results of speaking to Abercrombie and Kent, as all of you know is an upscale tour company. I will say, I do like to go as upscale as possible on trips in so far as hotels, etc. To see what they would suggest, they designed a package for us and here it is below. Let me know what you think.

First, here is what I'd like to do at least for now if I plan on my own.

Japan: undecided, but if I could swing the Park Hyatt or the Seiyo Ginza within the budget these would be my choices. Perhaps I can once we add this all up.

Beijing: Peninsula Palace. Saw good rates on their own and several other web sites. Have heart set on this pretty much. Rates ranging from $165 and a bit upwards. These are 2004 $.
Which way to you suggest we book; the hotels web site, anothers?. I know alot of people just show up and bargain, a terrific idea, I just do not feel comfortable doing this the first time out.

Hong Kong: Would like Mandarin Oriental, but also open to others. Like location of Mandarin Oriental.

Bangkok: Peninsula. Have had my heart set on this for a long time! Good rates also about $160 and up on their web and others. Again, suggestions for booking; hotels site, web site
Since I have so much time to do this, I will be on the look out for travel articles, etc with deals on any of these properties. If anyone has any particular avenue they like, let me know!

Then for touring all I have research so far ( on this board!) is Robinson Li for Beijing. To verify, he is a driver/guide, not just a driver?
Heard such nice things about this man.

For Bangkok, use Ratt. I could not believe her prices, so inexpensive!! and she is that good?? I have gotten several validations that she is, anyone else use her? she will really give us an insiders look at Bangkok and perhaps for a day trip?

We will want 1/2 day touring in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Would need suggestions here. We are a little picky about our guides.

How we do this, is I pay for the accommodations and tours and husband pays for air and land transportation ( taxis, etc) and all meals.

I'd like to keep my portion to $4000-$4500. We are also thinking now, Japan, Beijing and Hong Kong, 4 nights and Bangkok, 5-6 nights. I don't want to rush about and see too much more than we have here. Even if you think it is too much or too little in each destination, husband and I bantered about this one and felt that this was pretty fair.

Now here is what A&K offered us. Thanking you all in advance for reading this. I'll be as brief as I can;

( They based this on my original idea of 3 nights, Japan, Beijing, Hong Kong, 3 nights, 2 nights Phuket and 3 nights Bangkok). I asked them to revise it for me and I am waiting for a reponse. At least you can kind of see what they put together.

Day 1-3: Japan: Standard Room: Imperial hotel ( near Ginza)

Day 2: Morning sightseeing to include:
Tokyo Tower, Asakusa Kannon Temple, Imperial Palace Plaza and Imperial East Garden. Afternoon free

Day 3 Departure 10:40am to Beijing on JL #781. Arrive 13:20. Transfer to Peninsula Palace hotel, Deluxe room

Day 4: Full Day sightseeing: Great Wall at Mutianyue, Ming Tombs and lunch encl

Day 5: Morning to Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Afternoon to airport to fly to Hong Kong on KA #993: 17:55
Arrive Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Day 6 half Day tour of Hong Kong: Sheung Wan Dried Food and Herbal Medicine Market, Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road, Victoria Peak via the Peak Tram, Sampan Ride, Dim Sum Lunch at Aberdeen Marina Club. Free balance of day

Day 7 Fly Hong Kong to Phuket KA#2314 ( 13:15 arrive 1540. Transfer to Sheraton Grande Laguna Hotel, Lagoon Room

Day 8: full leisure day

Day 9: Transfer to airport to Bangkok, TG#204 ( 1120 arrive 1245) arrive deluxe room at Sofitel Silom Hotel ( already do not want this at all, I told them we must be on river at Peninsula)

Day 10: Morning sightseeing to Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha. Afternoon free

Day 11 flight home

Already we are now talking about 17 days and staying now all in Bangkok and eliminating Phuket, so this itinerary again is just for all of you to analyze. They are quoting me: $3100 pp for land, $1745 pp for air( Tokyo, Beijing, Hong Kong, Phuket, Bangkok)
Land includes: All accommodations, all breakfasts, 2 lunches, all transfers and sightseeing with private vehicle, driver and English speaking guide.
Airport departure taxes
entrance fees while sightseeing

As you may also know A&K prides itself on the finest guides and can also arrange some tours and for us to meet some artists, etc. these events of course would entail more $. They gave me the basics as we are just doing this as a survey 1st time trip to Asia.

Do you think I can do better on prices if I book this all on my own ( maybe with help from an agent on airfares?)

For dining, there is no problem. I am a chef and I have all sorts of contacts here. And of course I'll take all of your suggestions as well. What we are planning on is to actually not spend tons on dining experiences as we do in Europe and put our money into the hotels instead. I truly want some luxury hotel experiences this time around. I'm in the mood for it and we deserve it!! ( we work so hard all year long!)It seems it does not come at the hefty prices as in Europe. No? In Europe we stay at very nice but not usually 5 star properties and then blow it on fabulous restaurants which quite frankly is very important to us; We've dined at the sone of the greatest halls of gastronomy and will remember them forever!

Anyway, again, you are saints for sifting through this very long winded posting. Many thanks to all!

Look forward to more suggestions!

tripgirl is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 09:45 AM
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I'd say $3100 per person for the land portion is way overpriced. Especially since they are not even for the top hotels in a couple of places. As for their guides -- they are no better than others. I once ran into an A & K tour and their guide had been the student of my guide. My guide had left A & K because they were forcing their guides to take clients to stores where A & K got kickbacks. So I think you can do much better. This forum can give you the names of excellent guides and/or local tour operators that are at least as good as A & K and a LOT cheaper.
glorialf is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 10:15 AM
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thanks glorialf. you are a doll for the fast response!

That is what I thought too, but I am checking everything out!

any other thoughts from anyone in addition?

tripgirl is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 10:17 AM
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On your question about the Tokyo stopover. Yes, it is possible. I did it with a United MP award, flying to Tokyo and making a 12-day stopover and then flew on to Beijing. Returned to the US from Beijing. All on one award.

If you are using a United MP award or an American Aadvantage award, then you are allowed either one stopover or one open jaw. Other FF programs are probably the same. Instead of the stopover, you could get an open jaw award ticket: fly outbound to Tokyo and return from Bangkok.

I doubt you will get all the flying you want for only $1000 and my guess is it will be hard to do on $1500.

You could also look into buying a ticket to Japan, or to Beijing with a Japan stopover and then using an FF award to fly in Asia (e.g. fly from Tokyo via HKG to Beijing and then take the free stopover in HKG on the return. Fly from there to BKK and return, then back on the award ticket to NRT and the purchased ticket back hope. Complicate, but might be possible.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Aug 13th, 2004, 10:34 AM
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tripgirl-- one of the other really big problems you should think about is that in some instances you are really only spending one day in the city. You'll end up seeing more of the airports than the cities themselves. Is there any way you can spend some extra time since I know you don't want to to cut out a city.

There are infinitely more interesting things to do in Tokyo than what they are suggesting in my opinion -- beginning with the fish market.

I really think you need at least 3 full days in Tokyo, 2 or 3 full days in Beijing, 2 full days in Hong Kong and 5 or 6 full days in Bangkok. More time in any of the cities would be even better.
glorialf is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 11:51 AM
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I actually did change our itinerary ( ignore what A&K) did for us:

Here is what i want to do:

husband in Korea for his conference july 25-29th
I fly from US on July 27th
Arrive Japan : July 28th: all day to do nothing but relax and be by myself
July 29: husband arrives in Japan from Seoul and we stay in Tokyo until Aug 2nd.

aug 2nd-Aug 6th: Beijing
aug 6-aug10: Hong Kong
Aug 10-Aug 15 or 16th: Bangkok

So yes, this is more reasonable. just trying to figure out if I can do $4000-$4500 on all hotels and guides for this length of time.

Thanks for the advice mrwunrfl. It gives me some really good ideas!

I'll be back with more results of my efforts!

In the meantime, can anyone look to see if my budget for my portion of the trip is reasonable given the hotels I want to stay at ( see previous) and guides. Also glorialf, if you have really outstanding guides for hong Kong and Toyko, do tell! Or anyone else, besides glorialf, for that matter!
tripgirl is offline  
Aug 13th, 2004, 12:18 PM
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I think you will be able to do it within your budget as long as you do it on your own and not via a company like A & K. The one thing you may have to alter is the hotel in Tokyo. The five star hotels are out of site price wise but there are some excellent 4 star hotels that are on a par with any Sheraton or Hilton in the U.S. and have rates well under $200. One is Keio Plaza -- an excellent American style hotel with large rooms and all the amenities. It is about a block from the Park Hyatt. Service was superb. 11 restaurants and several bars etc. It would be a fine choice and would save you $200 a day. The deluxe hotels in Tokyo are wonderful but they don't compare to the deluxe hotels in Bangkok or Hong Kong and are twice the price. I'd skip them.

I haven't been in Beijing in 15 years so don't know the guide situation there. I don't really think you need one in Tokyo unless you have a very specific interest or desire. You'll want to go to the fish market there and it's easy to do via subway as are other sites. Since the weather may not be too great you may also want to go to some of the fabulous museums there and you certainly don't need a guide for that. The subways are clean, easy to use and safe. We had a lot of fun on them and found them part of the experience. You also MUST go to the food court of one of the deluxe department stores -- incredible!
glorialf is offline  
Aug 14th, 2004, 02:56 AM
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heres what oneworld pass says it offers. but after reading about the staralience. who knows.

it has american airlines and cathey pacific

if you choose too use miles do so quickly that rout is verry popular..

orgy7 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2004, 03:19 AM
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here a good site too find passes

maybe take a look at the new ALL ASIA AIrpass.. IT uses a point systom for distance traveld...

orgy7 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2004, 05:32 AM
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acutuall the all asia airpass is not for you. it is basicly full of ALL the asian routs no one takes.
orgy7 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2004, 05:33 AM
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acutually the all asia airpass is not for you. it is basicly full of ALL the asian routs no one takes.
orgy7 is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 04:16 AM
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For both HK and Bkk if eating at good places is imp to u consider buying yourself a Luxe guide - I now have 1 each for Bkk, Hanoi, Bali and HK and find them great - esp for short trips as they have just the right amount of info.
hobbes is offline  
Aug 16th, 2004, 04:57 AM
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Try the Elephant Corridor in Sri Lanka.
Let me know if you need more info.
sanjaym is offline  

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