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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Affordable Far East 9.22.10

Several of my friends have relocated to Asia for the time being and have prompted me to explore destinations and pricing in that part of the world. It’s beautiful, no doubt, but can it also be affordable? My sources say “yes”. It all depends on when and where you go and what you want to do there. Southeast Asia can be super cheap (Thailand, Cambodia, India), but countries like China and Japan are notorious for being high-end destinations. I have attacked my travel references for deals and other money-savers on this one and came up with some pretty good options and alternatives for you. And if you know of any more, don’t hesitate to leave a comment for me and other readers. I love feedback. 

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  • The key to an affordable Asian holiday might be found in package deals. You can save quite a bit sometimes by purchasing your airfare and accommodations together. Many times these deals can be less than what it would cost to even just fly there and that is pretty awesome.

    Try staying outside the big cities and potentially save a bundle on your lodgings. If you will be taking public transportation anyway, you'll just be taking it a bit further.

    • Do you want to be pampered on your trip to Asia? Make a stop in Bali and stay at the Ayana Resort and Spa, which was formerly the Ritz Carlton, from $170 per night. Your rate includes daily buffet breakfast, welcome cocktails, room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out and a $50 spa credit.  The Anyana Resort is a gorgeous property that faces the Indian Ocean and offers freshwater pools, saltwater infinity pool, 12 restaurants and amazing full-service spa. This offer is available on stays through July 15, 2011.

    • Stay 2+ nights in the Bangkok Banyan Tree luxury hotel and get at least $110 in hotel credits for spending on food, bar, hotel gallery, mini-bar, room service and spa. Room rate also includes daily breakfast.
    • Thailand is super inexpensive. Stay in a resort, like the Convenient Resort in Bangkok for only $20 per night.

    With so many people in Asia, you know there will be no shortage of reliable transportation. Like they are in America, taxis will add up quickly. Take trains and buses to get around and you will save many dollars. 

    • Do you want to spend your vacation in several countries in Asia? With the Carthay Pacific All Asia Air Pass, you can fly between 42 Asian cities for one price. Prices start at $1599 per person for travel within 21 days of your first use. 

    Eating in Asia can be costly, but you can save money by following some of the same rules as eating out everywhere else. Eat where the locals eat. This will generally be places that serve local food, which is often cheaper. This can include eating at food stalls. Stalls can offer variety, quick and inexpensive meals.

    Another suggestion I've seen often is to make friends with locals. Not only is if fun to interact with people who actually live where you are visiting, they can give you some tips on where to go and what to do that won't cost you an arm and a leg, plus, in Asia people are friendly and generous and will often open their home to you for meals. Nothing like indulging in food that the locals actually eat and make...and engage in some wonderful conversation, too! 

    Sign up for the free VIP Membership Club in Asia that gives members special discounts and privileges up to 50% off  for participating businesses. Asia Privilege Club. What have you got to lose? Save money on accommodation, computers, dining, gifts, furniture, health products, massage, sports, travel, visas and many more.

    Most of the temples and museums in Asia have free admission, plus there are many city parks that are beautiful and a great place to hang out and have a snack.

    Instead of shopping in department stores, check out some of the markets. You can haggle for lower prices and get wonderful handmade or not-so-handmade items for much less than at the stores. It also gets you to converse with locals, which is a great way to experience a culture. 

    Enjoy daily Tai Chi for free in many city parks or just watch the locals instead.

    Learn how to manage your money while in Asia with this great comparative article on Travelfish.org

    It's not always possible to learn an entire language before going on vacation. This is where Point It comes in. When there is a language barrier that you can't break through with bad translation or with gestures, you can pull out this handy-dandy "dictionary" and point to the picture of what you're trying to say. Pictures are universal.                  

    If pointing at pictures seems archaic to you, download the Free Translator app to your iPhone. Translate between 18 different languages, including: Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish and Vietnamese. Pick your two languages, type in your phrase and the translated phrase will be shown on your phone. You can then read it or show it to whoever you're talking to.            

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