How to travel comfortably without paying expensive airfares, where to get cheap accommodation without compromising on quality, and where to good cuisines and other services without necessary paying through the nose are questions that plague many people traveling to Asia for business on a budget.. True, airfare has declined dramatically in recent times such that the Singapore –Bangkok journey which cost $500 three years ago now costs $150(cheapflights2thailand.com), but this also comes with own set of hurdles which include compromised safety measures on the cheap airlines. Budget travelers should however note that expansive Asia has relative meaning for the word “budget” (Leffel, T.).
In an article titled, ‘Budget Travel in Asia’ Tim Leffel notes that while as $100per day would be comfortable spending for a budget traveler in Japan, the same amount of money would translate to fancy hotel accommodation and expensive cuisines in Laos. At such, he classified Asia into three distinct categories: South East Asia, Asia-Pacific and Indian subcontinent based on similarities in spending expenses.
Business travelers to south Asia get to enjoy the lowest rates. Reasonable travel rates are available either from airlines or overland transport between countries. Bangkok is revered as the home for the cheapest flights in the whole region. Travel between Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Burma/Myanmar is effortless and cheap. Cheap food is available from stalls located on the streets or cheap restaurants. A private room costs as low as $15. For people who hate packing clothes for sue during oversee business trip, the region has quality tailored suits that are relatively cheap (Ninomiya, K).
The Indian subcontinent includes India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China and India. The fact about these countries is that prices are not as cheap as the South East Asian countries, but there is always room for bargain (Leffel, T.). A few pointers can however minimize a travelers spending. Such include eating from road side stalls. According to Kent Ninomiya, nothing accounts for travelers expenses more than food served in big hotels. Apparently, one can get the same food for lower prices in the roadside stalls, for as long as the hygienic conditions of the food looks good and the food looks, smells and tastes fresh.
Among the Indian subcontinent countries, however, India and Nepal are in a different class mainly due to the polluted cities, high poverty levels, congested streets and poor sanitation. A tight $10 would be enough for a traveler on a shoe string budget here; however quality services call for an average spending of $150 daily. Fancy hotels can cost as much as $350 per night. Different modes of transport are available in India and the cost depends on the comfort you want to travel in. Domestic flight routes are relatively cheap across all travel classes. While using trains on the other hand, a traveler can choose from a range of not less than seven travel classes, which are all prices differently. The country also has an expansive bus services, while those willing to travel on more personalized means can hire a car or opt for a three-wheeler (Rick Shaw) transport.
The Asia-Pacific region consists of Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Russia and Mongolia. These countries have the highest travel rates within all Asia. The prices are not up for bargain especially in the big cities. In some countries like China, opting for services away from the busy cities could minimize a travelers spending. In Japan or Korea however, the location does not make much difference.
In Japan, contacting a travel agency before hand may save the traveler a few dollars in air flight fares. For cheap domestic flights, using the Japan air pass is recommended. Alternatively, a traveler can opt to use the distant travel buses or trains. For a traveler who chooses to travel across Japan by train, acquiring a rail pass instead of buying single tickets could save them valuable cash on transport costs. The high cost of living dictates the prices in Japan and hence the visitors should be ready to spend more for services they can access cheaply elsewhere in Asia. For cheap accommodation however, a budget business traveler can opt for the simple but functional business hotels. They are not spacious or fancy, but meet the basic requirements of cleanliness and neatness (Mishima, S.)
The Youth hostels offers another alternative for business travelers who would not mind sharing rooms. The hostels present the cheapest accommodation option in Japan. Others include the Minshuku, which offers bed and breakfast to travelers. The capsule hotels cost an average of $27.5 a night and the traveler gets to spend the night in a capsule like room measuring 3feet x 4feet x 6 feet. Guest houses are recommended for business travelers who are intending to stay longer in Japan (Mishima, S). Food in the country can either be in restaurants, bars or convenience stores.
It also pays to do research ones destination before embarking on the journey. At such, budget travel guides come in hardy as opposed to mainstream guides which direct the traveler to specific places on generalized assumptions. The ‘Lonely Planet guide’ and the ‘Lets Go guide’ are among resources that are known to help business budget travelers (Ninomiya, K.)
Although matters business can be hard pressing and therefore demand for immediate travel in spite of whether its peak or off peak seasons, business travelers on a budget and who can adjust their travel plans to off peak seasons can save much expenses by doing so. According to Tim Leffel, the author if the GoNOMAD Book, even travelers whose airfare, accommodation and food has been catered for by the employer company always seek cut-rate airfare, inexpensive lodging and food in order to minimize the costs. He however notes that the most overlooked aspect of Asian Business travel is the prevailing travel season. He notes that during the peek season, everything goes up; the air fare increases, accommodation expensive and so is the food.
Travelers going to Bangkok should try avoiding December and August and instead try fixing their travel between September, May and June. Travelers to Cambodia should consider the period between May and October because the weather is relatively cool then. Months between February and April register uncomfortably high temperatures. November is a busy month in Cambodia as the ‘Bon Om Tuk’ festival attracts an influx of tourists to the city. In Hong Kong, hotels offer discounts during the off-peak seasons between March and April and October and November. Budget travelers should avoid the Chinese New-Year festivals celebrates in January and February as this leads to a price hike in every aspect of travel. Due to its all year wet weather, Kuala Lumpur is busiest in the June/July period during which the weather is dry. Manila is on the other hand a country of extremes, where the December/May period has uncomfortably high temperatures. The time between February and August marks the typhoon season. Manila is not a favorite with tourists and therefore travel expenses are not dictated by the seasons. The same applies to Singapore, which has a good climate all year round (whosetravel.com.)
Considering that a business traveler does not have time or simply opts out of site seeing and tourism affinities, it is most likely that he/she will have tough times managing his/her budget. Spending among tourists in the Asian countries is mostly taken up by entry fees to museum and other sight seeing venues. Shopping also accounts for a significant amount of their spending.
An article published in 2002 in the Business Asia magazine claims that luxury budget travel to Asia has become the driving force of many travel services operators. This has come on the realization that the middle income earners are more than the wealthy few who despite spending much during travel, do not form the bulk of travelers who make the main driving force of the travel industry. As competing service providers do their best to attract travelers, the budget travelers get to enjoy benefits and discounts which were practically impossible ten years ago. Such include slashed fees, quality services and luxurious travel. The difference between the economy class traveler and the business class traveler either in transport, accommodation and food is slowly diminishing.
Unlike earlier times when luxurious travel in Asia was only guaranteed under premium charges, a business traveler on a budget can today enjoy the same services with an average budget. The trick however lies in researching the destinations, choosing the right time for travel and working within the budget.
- Leffel, T. “Contrarian Timing: Pay Attention to Travel seasons”. Go NOMAD Book Excerpt. 2008.
- Mishima, S. “Japan Budget Travel Tips: How to Travel Cheap in Japan” Travel tools/about.com articles. 2008. Web.
- Ninomiya, K. “How to Travel around Asia on A Budget.” e-how articles. Web.
- Leffel, T. “Budget Travel in Asia: Planning for a Cheap Trip” Transitions abroad webzine. 2008. Web.
- “Check the Safety Records of Low Cost Airlines”. Cheapflights2thailand. com. 2008.