Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Reminder: Planning And Booking Thailand Visits

The goal is to return safely to your home turf. If you do that, you win!  This is San Francisco, taken from a homeward-bound flight.

January 1st of this year saw the first of the Travel Tips series published here ("Travel Agents And Airline Tickets"), and since Thailand is just entering high season and some of you are thinking about or already set on going I thought we'd revisit some of the information covered in earlier posts and try to consolidate some of the links into one spot for you.  Hopefully you'll also read some of the other detail, but that's entirely up to you. If you do, also note the comments submitted for each post, as there are some good suggestions in them.

In that first entry we covered planning and booking your flight, but admittedly it had a USA slant to it as that's where I'm based. There are undoubtedly international travel sites out there that are truly gems that I don't know about yet.  You're encouraged to submit links via the comments section.  Many will appreciate them, I'm sure.  Links in that first entry included:

AIRLINES I've flown or are comfortable recommending:
ANA (All Nipon Airways)
JAL (Japan Airlines)
Singapore Airlines
I've also flown Northwest and United there, and hope I don't have to again.

Remember that airlines offer their own specials on their web sites, but prices can fluctuate multiple times throughout the day, with little or no rhyme or reason to it.  I'd suggest checking the identical flight at different times of the day for a couple of days at least if you're going to book directly through the airline.  Remember that sometimes flexibility on your travel dates can make a big difference.  If you're checking fares, try a day or two before and after.

For ticket price comparisons, is still my favorite, you may also have yours.  Kayak compares hundreds of sites at once, and in one place.

Don't overlook the possibility of finding good prices by using the services of a travel agency or ticket wholesaler, especially if you have any kind of decent rapport with a travel agent who knows their stuff.  Agents don't make much at all from booking an airline ticket alone, but if you've also booked a cruise, hotel or auto rental with them they ought to be more amenable to going out of their way to help you find a better price.  I often do some research myself first, call mine and tell them what I've found.  Sometimes they beat it and sometimes they say "book what you've found."

While booking a ticket and doing your seat selection Seat Guru can come in handy. Nobody really wants to sit bolt upright against the wall to the toilets on a 12 hour flight.

HOTEL SITES for booking your room (note: some include fees and taxes in a search, some don't) was bought by Priceline and is the 800 pound gorilla, but it's dependable.
Asiarooms can also offer decent packages
Wotif is an Australian company that I'm hearing good things about, but I haven't used them.
Search a few and compare before booking anything.  I'd also suggest contacting the hotel directly and asking for a better rate.  The worst they can do is say "no", and sometimes they offer specials even the commercial sites don't get - even with their block purchases.  If you participate or lurk on any travel forums also consider doing a bit more research on some of their recommendations, too.

LUGGAGE AND PACKING: Note the post from January 2 here. Read the fine print with your ticket.

1) Travel.State.Gov is the official resource for USA travelers, and it's a wealth of information.
2) British Airways has an interesting calculator for figuring out jet lag. There's also my blog post here.
3) The English version of the official Thai Customs site can help you avoid legal problems when arriving.
4) In February this year I posted an extensive piece about arriving at Suvarnabhumi airport that will come in handy, I'm fairly sure - especially for newbies.

There are also a lot of posts where I've shared experiences I've been through or learned from trusted sources that may help you while you're there. I've gotten many kind comments from folks they have helped.  You can read about them via the links below, by topic:
Staying healthy on flights and in hotels
Getting sick in Thailand
Medications in Thailand
Staying hydrated (I can't emphasize this enough)
...and a story that still gets a lot of hits: learning to use a squat toilet.

We'll probably add more to this or another entry soon.  Again, please feel free to share comments with other tips you've found helpful.


christianpfc said...

I have flexibility of more than a week in planning my holiday. So far I used opodo to check prices for +- 2 days, but recently I found which gives prices for a full week, which makes it much easier for me to get an overview.

khunbaobao said...

I'm unfamiliar with both of these, but they looked on the surface like easy sites to check if you're in Europe, etc. Bravofly didn't have a selection for class type of ticket, but Opodo did. From the sliver I know about christianpfc he's adept at finding the lower prices, so these may well be worth researching.

ANY service you are thinking of using deserves a check on travel forums to look at previous user comments - but that OUGHT to go without saying.

Thanks for the suggestions!