This semester has been rather good to me, and that has allowed me to take a short trip to Bangkok with my girlfriend during my university’s recess week. As recess week fell on the week directly after the CNY holidays, it was a double blessing! When we got our schedules at the start of 2015, we planned to go somewhere nearby, and finally decided on Bangkok, Thailand. I am a firm believer of flying by budget airlines on short flights. [I consider anything less than 5h to be short, but again, this is subject to your personal opinion :)] For flights less than 5h, I don’t really see the point of spending so much money, which could be better spent enjoying myself instead. In recent years, I’ve flown via budget carriers to Hong Kong, Macau, KL, and Taipei, and have had pleasant experiences each time. I’ll be breaking my long post down into smaller posts for easier reading, and easier posting hahaha (:
Pre-trip: Searching for flights & accommodation
Although I generally fly via budget carriers (LCCs) for short flights, I will still check out promotional offerings of full-service carriers (FSCs). Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, the cost of flying via FSCs might even be cheaper than that of LCCs, factoring in the extra check-in baggage and meal included on the flight. I like to use Skyscanner for a basic search, and get a rough idea of how much it would cost me to fly to my intended destination.
*Do note that Skyscanner does not always show promo fares, so it would be wise to check directly on the airline’s website for promo fares! (:
*The fares seen on Skyscanner are usually cheaper than that seen on the airline’s websites, as these fares are usually booked through third-party sites. Personally, I don’t really trust such sites, and feel safer going to the airline’s website to book directly after checking. I also feel that it is easier to make changes and/or lodge a complaint if something goes wrong, since your information will already be in their system. Again, it is up to your personal preference, and I know friends who book through these third-party sites with no issues at all.
Personally, I find Jetstar, Scoot, and AirAsia more comfortable than Tiger Airways (Tiger), although I still searched all 4 LCCs for fares during my intended period of travel. I wanted to spend about 6 days in Bangkok, with 2 days overlapping the weekend (so I could visit Jatujak and not be in a rush to leave on the same day). Fares were generally more expensive on the 21st and 22nd of Feb, since it was the CNY weekend, thus I decided to leave on the 24th (Tue) and return on the 1st of Mar (Sun) instead.
As I wanted to land at Suvarnabhumi Airport instead of Don Meaung, AirAsia and Scoot were out of the reckoning for this trip. I also wanted to maximise my time in Bangkok, and was on the lookout for early flights out from Singapore, and late flights back from Bangkok. Both Tiger and Jetstar had pretty similar timings (7-8.30am & 7.05-8.35am respectively) for flights out from Singapore, as well as return flight timings (7.40-11.10pm & 9.20-12.50am respectively).
I played around with single trip tickets as I tried to get the cheapest combination (ie. Tiger out, Jetstar back & Jetstar out, Tiger back), but found that even after converting back to SGD, the return fares of Jetstar were the cheapest for my dates. I didn’t manage to snag promo fares from Jetstar or Tiger during that period, so it might actually be cheaper if you do get those promo fares! (: Thai Airways and SIA did have promo fares, but these weren’t as cheap as Jetstar’s, even after factoring in the baggage allowance and in-flight meal.
*It is possible to get cheaper tickets by playing around with single trip tickets. For my previous trip to Taipei (more on that in a later post), I booked a single ticket from Singapore -> Taipei (in SGD), and another single ticket from Taipei -> Singapore (in TWD). After converting back the ticket in TWD to SGD, I managed to save about S$20, compared to if I had booked a return ticket from Singapore. / woohoo hahaha
*I added 15kg check-in baggage on the flight back, and split the cost with my gf, so it was pretty cheap! Do note that if you book a return flight, you cannot add baggage on only one leg of the journey (I wasn’t allowed to do so, maybe they hated me :().
Thus, I ended up flying with Jetstar for a total of S$184 (non-promo fares).
- Departed on 24th Feb, 7.05am (landed at 8.35am in Bangkok)
Returned on 1st Mar, 9.20pm (landed at 12.50am in Singapore)
As for accommodation, I like to use booking.com (where I’m a GEnius member, meaning that I get special offers and discounts on top of current ones) as well as agoda.com to search for hotels. I also check out Airbnb as well as get recommendations from my friends prior to booking. Generally, I will do a cursory search on these sites, and then visit the hotel’s own website, as most of the time, the hotel website has the best offers and/or perks (especially the case for Starwood properties, or if you’re a member of the hotel’s loyalty programme). This time around, booking.com offered me the best deal, and I paid 13,140baht (S$541) for 5 nights at GLOW Pratunam in their Deluxe Double room.
*This was the best rate as it included breakfast as well as the VAT (7%) & Service Charge (10%). Do note hat sometimes booking sites do not always include taxes & service charge, so you might need to pay extra upon arrival.
Thus, our accommodation worked out to about S$108 a night inclusive of breakfast for 2, which was reasonable enough as we were looking at a comfortable hotel in an easily accessible shopping district.