September 26, 2006 at 5:10 pm 1 comment

After weeks of reading and researching for the Asia Trip and at the same time, calling numerous travel agents. After I determined places to visit and visited/called a handful of agencies, I bought a round trip flight (LAX – BKK, with one stopover at Taiwan) from China Airlines today for $1,039.10 (included tax).

The research indicates that to get the cheapest ticket, I need to be flexible with departure dates and destination. Thus, the only requirement I have is:

  • Leave between 12/15 – 12/27
  • Destination can be Singapore (prefer), Bangkok, or Kuala Lumpur.
  • A stopover in Taiwan

I heard for international flights, travel agents can find better deals.  I contacted everyone. My friend who is a travel agent, my friend’s dad who work in the travel industry, and my friends’ travel agents, and called up at least a dozen travel agencies from yellow pages*. However, turns out travel agents did not like a range of dates, they want me to give them 1 date and 1 destination before they would do a search for me. Those that did provided quotes are priced either the same as what I found via Booking Buddy or higher.

I also looked into tours. There are only 2 cities on my must-see list: Angkor Wat and Chiang Mai.  I did found one great tour package with SmarTour, but there is no more space for December.  Many agencies also did not have tours to Angkor Wat. Just so I can capitalized on the best deal, I started looking into Thailand tours. There are many tours to Thailand, especially among Chinese travel agencies. I found many great packages, such as this, but when I called to inquire about that package, the agents told me the price for leaving in December would be $300-$500 more even though the website indicate elsewise >=(.

Thailand have military Coup last week, though part of me think I should just change vacation spot, another part of me was hoping that the airfare would tank. (Un)fortunately, Thailand is still very calm. This past Saturday, I visited a few agencies to do more inquiries and pretty much got the same answers as what I got over the phones.

Although I do wish the fare would be cheaper, the price from China Airlines is reasonable and I do not foresee the price getting any better; I booked the ticket online today.

Conclusion: Despite everything, internet still provide the best price (I’m surprised).


*Rant: What is wrong with chinese travel agents? Here I am, eager to spend a few thousands on tour (or $1k on flight) with them. I’m bringing business to them. And yet, when I called, even before I speak, they answered the phone very rude and when I inquired about airfare, they go off for 5 minutes lecturing me for wanting to travel to SE Asia during high season. If they were thinking, they would realize that if they are nice to me and give me a reasonable quote, I would do business with them, regardless of high or low season. The few that were nice did not follow up. That is almost as bad as being rude. If you have no intention of providing a quote to me, don’t tell me you’ll call me later with a quote. The rudest travel agency I encounter is America Asia Travel Center. I called them and got transfer to several people before someone even bother to ask me when I want to leave, then got rudely dismissed. My friend called them a day later and got the same treatment. Because of the rude service I got from them, I vowed to never do business with America Asia Travel Center. I think it’s because of agents like these that internet reservation is thriving!


Entry filed under: Expenses, General.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Marlie Parsons  |  January 7, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    If you have the time to invest, you definitely can find better deals online than if you leave it up to a travel agent, who makes more commission on higher prices.


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