You can read this blog in two ways. Either as me showing off that I have all the freedom in the world to go on holiday where I like; or as a useful set of tips and hints for DIY trip planning. Hopefully demonstrating how, with a lot of time and a bit of flexibility, you can create a holiday that is tailor-made for what you want, not what the package companies want to bundle together and sell for an exorbitant mark up. It is intended as the latter, honest.
We started to look at hols this year by musing over a Mediterranean meander (Greek islands seemed like a good idea) , a Cuban canter or even at one point a USA West coast wander.
STEP 1 – get as close to Thailand as possible for the least amount of money
Tools We Used
This does not mean I asked the likes of AA Gill or Giles Brandreth to help us, but actually found useful things on the Internet to help in our quest.
Skyscanner – a good scraping flight search thats roots out flights across thousands of airlines, but it is fallible and doesn’t include many of the low cost airlines in Asia – http://www.skyscanner.net/
Kayak – similar to sky scanner, but sometimes picks up airlines that SS doesn’t so always worth having a look in addition to sky scanner – http://www.kayak.co.Uk/
STEP 2 - Get around the country you want, creating your own multi centre holiday
Now for this task Skyscanner and Kayak don’t do at all, you need tool number three (let’s call this tool Jordan, or Katie as she now likes to be known) – it’s cheap and easy to use and so kinda fits with the name Jordan don’t you think dear readers.
Jordan will let you find out where you can fly to and from any airport in the world on the low cost carriers; which are just about in every country now. In this example for Bangkok on the link above, scroll down the page where you can see a list of low cost carriers that fly from that airport and, more importantly, where in each country they connect with. So you now go off direct to these carriers and find who does the best deal, and repeat this for all your hops to see what the best connections are.
Using Jordanin this way we have booked low cost hops (none costing more than £55) to enable us to create a itinerary which will see us visiting:-
- Bangkok ( arrive at 6pm and stay in a hotel by the airport overnight so we can arrive at our beach location next day by 10am ready to party; with no need to insert matchsticks in our eyes on our first day)
- Ko Samui
- Chiang Mai
- Then finally back to Bangkok for the last two nights to stuff our suitcase full of shopping in the markets
See the trip here –
View Asia Summer 2010 in a larger map
In addition to these flights I have been yearning to ‘do an overnight sleeper train’ and thought this would be an ideal opportunity to slot one in on this trip. So we travel overnight in a first class sleeper train from Ko Samui back to Bangkok on our way to Chiang Mai, all for the princely sum of £35 each. I found a fantastic resource for train travel just about anywhere in the world and if like me you get a bit nostalgic about the wonders of train travel check this site out it really is a fantastic source of info for train travel around the globe. http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm
Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying that this is easy or doesn’t take quite a bit (no scratch that a fuck of a lot) of time, but I actually get some geeky pleasure from this, and for me to start the excitement of travel weeks before you undo your belt at airport security!
Scores so far
Total cost before we begin to look at accommodation
UK to Bangkok £460 – Etihad, via Abu Dhabi, 13 hr flight including connections
Internal Thailand flights and sleeper train £175, Air Asia, Bangkok Air (turbo prop airplane – not sure I am looking forward to this one) and Thai Railways
TOTAL TRANSPORT COSTS = £635 each, which if we are to match the package costs leaves a budget of around £465 per person or £60+ per night per room, which in Thailand will get you some very nice accommodation indeed. But more of that in a later blog which will include:-
STEP 3 – Choose hotels that match your needs and desires
STEP 4 – Move from frantic to relaxed, to a bit of culture during your trip
STEP 5 – Get a bit anal about researching weather, best areas to stay in each resort, and almost wearing TripAdvisor out.
STEP 6 -Use cloud computing for your planning
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