If you are looking for making an ultra low budget holiday, here are some tips for planning.
It is based on my bookings of air tickets from Hong Kong and 4-night accommodation on a Nagoya holiday. We spent HK$1500 (US$185) per person for airfare and hotel accommodation on a 5-day Nagoya holiday.
You would need to travel on low cost airlines to save on airfare and avoid peak holiday seasons, such as Christmas, New Year, Easter to get the air tickets at low price. Usually, March, May, June, September, October are low seasons for Japan travel. If you travel in peak seasons, not only you pay for higher airfare, the hotel accommodation is higher too.
The following are a list of major low cost airlines in Asia:
Air Asia (based in Malaysia)
Air Busan (based in South Korea)
Air Seoul (based in South Korea)
Cebu Pacific (based in Philippines)
Hong Kong Express (based in Hong Kong)
Jeju Air (based in South Korea)
Jetstar Asia (based in Singapore)
Jin Air (based in South Korea)
Juneyao Air (based in China)
Lucky Air (based in China)
Peach Airways (based in Japan)
Scoot Tigerair (based in Singapore)
Spring Airlines (based in China)
Tigerair Taiwan (based in Taiwan)
Vanilla Air (based in Japan)
VietJet Air (based in Vietnam)
Low cost airlines flight schedules sometimes are not as good as traditional airlines. Some flights are either early morning or midnight flights. Although it may be cheaper for these flights, you pay more on hotel and transportation cost. I will avoid these flights because it is for holiday and the trip should be relaxing and fun.
Skyscanner is a good tool showing the flights from different airlines. You can then decide which flight to take based on your budget and preference.
Low cost airlines usually have big promotion from time to time. You need to seize that moment for cheap air tickets. These special tickets are limited in quantity. So, you may need to compete with others for cheap tickets at midnight when the sales begins. Some low cost airlines offer special pass that allows customers to buy the ticket in advance before other people. For example, Hong Kong Express has Ufly-Pass for HK$388 (US$50) per annum that provides a 6-hour window to buy the cheap air tickets in advance. If you plan for low cost holiday, don’t hesitate to buy this special pass. You should save more even if you just use the special pass once because you are almost certain buying the air tickets at rock bottom price.
If you would like to travel in peak seasons, such as Christmas, New Year, or Easter, you should buy the air tickets as early as possible. Sometimes, air tickets from traditional airlines are cheaper compared to low cost airlines. So, you should compare airfare from different airlines.
For my Nagoya trip as an example, we bought the HK$88 one-way air tickets between Hong Kong and Nagoya. At the end, we spent HK$1246 (US$160) on air tickets for two [HK$623 (US$80) per person], tax inclusive.
Choosing accommodation is a not an easy task. There are many hotels in a city and you can’t decide simply based on price. You may find some hotels with similar room rates. I usually search for accommodation on TripAdvisor. The customer reviews is useful tool in getting the insight of the hotel. I pay attentions to reviews about the hotel’s location, facilities and comfortability. As always, you find some very negative comments on each hotel. I usually ignore these negative reviews and make the decision based on the majority opinions. TripAdvisor shows the price from different booking sites. My preference is to choose hotels in central location, close to subway or train station.
For Nagoya trip, I have the following hotel recommendations:
Meitetsu Inn Nagoya Nishiki: This hotel is in Sakae district (Nagoya’s shopping and entertainment center). Buffet breakfast is included. TripAdvisor reviews are generally positive. With double room rate at HK$357 (US$46) per night, the room rate is very good.
Hotel Wing International Nagoya: This hotel is located at the subway station between Nagoya station and Sakae on Sakura-dori Line. The hotel rate is surprisingly low at HK$286 (US$37) per night for 2 people. TripAdvisor reviews are positive.
Ace-inn Matsusaka: This hotel is located at Matsusaka Station. It is very convenient if you travel around Mie Prefecture and stay at Matsusaka. The room rate is competitive as other hotels in Mie Prefecture are more expensive. The room at HK$390 (US$50) per night is a good deal. TripAdvisor reviews are also good.
When I make hotel bookings, I prefer bookings that have free cancellation. You have the option to cancel the booking without penalty. If you see a better deal later, you can simply re-book at a cheaper rate. When you cancel a booking, if the transaction was made in a currency other than your credit card’s own currency, you may incur exchange rate loss even with free cancellation. If the booking site does not charge your credit card instantly (i.e. booking with deferred payment or payment at hotel check-in), there may be no exchange rate loss in case you cancel your booking.
If your hotel reservations have free cancellation. You may check the hotel rate from time to time, maybe once every two weeks to see if the price drops. And in the month leading upto your travel, check the hotel rate weekly. There are two possibilities at that time: The hotel rate could be very expensive as the hotel is pretty full, Or it would be very cheap if the occupancy rate is low. If the occupancy rate is low, the room rate will be slashed and you may re-book the room at much cheaper rate. For example, my recent travel to Beppu, Japan, the room rate was 50% off just one week before travel. You could save a lot if you are lucky.
For my 5-day Nagoya holiday, my spendings on air tickets and accommodations are:
Airfare for two people from Hong Kong to Nagoya: HK$1246
2-night at Meitetsu Inn Nagoya Nishiki: HK$660
2-night at Ace-inn Matsusaka: HK$1084
The total spending on airfare and hotel accommodation for a 5-day Nagoya holiday for 2 people is HK$2990 (US$383). On average, it is HK$1495 (US$191.5) per person.