I travel regularly in and out of Southeast Asia, and it’s certainly the most exciting travel spot on the planet. However, it’s also an expensive airline ticket to get there. Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, are all fantastic cities, but expensive to reach by plane. Coach class airfares from Chicago to Bangkok can run from $1000 to $1900 easily, depending on several factor.
Here is a guide to finding the best airline deals to Southeast Asia.
The time of year you travel makes all the difference. The high season for Southeast Asia is November and December. They also experience a heavy flow of tourists in summer months, when Europeans and Americans have their vacation time. Avoid these times of year. The best times to travel to Thailand, Malaysia or any location in Southeast Asia will be January and February. These are cool months, although not as cool as December. You’ll still find comfortable 80 degree, sunny weather, but most of the December holiday tourists have flown back home. The air fares drop considerable in January. Early September/October is the second best time, just before the influx of tourism and at the end of the rainy season.
Flights on Wednesday tend to dip in price. Monday, Tuesday, and Friday are filled with business travelers, and the weekend sees vacationers filling the planes. Airfares can be up to 20% lower on Wednesday, and sometimes even Thursday.
Buy early, or very late.
Book your ticket at least 30 days in advance, and a few months sooner if possible. The earlier you book your airline ticket, the cheaper it will be. After the 21 day window has closed, your only next option is a last minute airline deal. These are typically offered in the last few days before the fight, if and only if the flight is under-booked. You’re taking your chances with this strategy, and you might not have success. Booking your airline tickets early is the best plan.
Look for deals with Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Malaysian Airlines. These air carriers have the most flights in and out of Asia, and will have the most promotions. From the U.S., Japan Airlines and ANA (All Nippon) have the best deals to Tokyo, and Eva Air flies economically to Taipei. From either of these cities you can easily get to any Southeast Asian airport. Look for Singapore Airline’s 2 for 1 deals, where a companion travels half-price or free. These deals pop up every few months.
New Low Cost Carriers
A fleet of new low-cost airlines are now flying longer distances. For years, Air Asia was the lowest cost regional carrier in Southeast Asia. However, they now fly to London and Australia, too. The fares can be as low as $400 each way. JetStar also flies between Southeast Asia and the US (Honolulu), and Australia.
A growing number of mid-east airlines also offer budget prices to Southeast East. Emirates flies to Bangkok and Hong Kong for a low price. Qatar also offers good service on a budget price. I’ve flown both of these airlines and found the inflight service to be excellent.
If you don’t mind 2 or 3 connections, you’ll get a cheaper fare on your flight.
Some of the best fares I’ve paid to Asia, have included stops in 3 cities. This can be tiresome, but it’s a long flights any way you add it. At least with connections you can save money.
Specialty Travel Agents.
There are some very good travel agencies who can put together packages to Southeast Asia for you. They have resources for finding the best deals for you. I have used Thaifly with good success. MATTA is also a good source for travel agents.
Finally, check your air fares again and again. Airline ticket prices changes daily. Start planning months in advance and keep checking for deals. New fares and deals appear daily and change often.