Looking for a hotel in Asia? Agoda.com!

Cleveland Heights Travel Blog

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So, I'm a hotels.com kinda guy.  I took a trip a couple years back where I hopped between three different cities in Czech, to Budapest, to Bratislava, back to Czech (not to mention a quick detour to Germany) and I just found it extremely convenient to book all my accommodations in one place.  So, of course, when I started pricing hotels for this trip, that's where I started off.  But, somewhere along the line, a contact in Thailand told me that I was paying far too much for my stay.  On that tip, I did a more thorough search and came across a hotel booking site called Agoda.com.  I tell you, the prices this site was offering were unbelievable.  Not to mention, the selection was huge.  If hotels.com had 20 hotels in Bangkok, agoda.com had 100.  Honestly, the prices were so good, I figured it had to be some kind of scam site.  But further research on the company revealed that not only was it legit, but had been recently purchased by PriceLine.  It seems they specialize in Asia travel, so don't get ready to drop your favorite hotel booking site altogether.  But, if you're going to Asia, make Agoda your first stop.
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Man, it's been a grind deciding where we'll go, and exactly how many days we'll spend in each place.  We've changed out itinerary too, too many times in the last month or so.  But, we've finally settled on a plan (if for no other reason than we needed to start booking flights and hotels).

So, we've decided to spend New Year's Eve in Seoul instead of Tokyo.  The main reason for this is that I actually know people in Seoul, so it would be cool spending NYE with them.  Also, I just imagine NYE in Tokyo would be crazy expensive.  I spent NYE in New York a couple years ago, and doing ANYTHING was so overpriced...I expect Tokyo would be the same deal.

So, we're doing:
2 days in Tokyo
4 days in Seoul
3 days in Hong Kong
1 day in Bangkok
4 days in Pattaya
3 days in Singapore
2 more days in Tokyo

I know, we're trying to fit a whole lot into 3 weeks.  You should have seen the itin before we dropped Shanghai and Phuket from the list.

Anywayz, airfare within Asia has been booked.  As planned, we're going with American Airlines' OneWorld Visit Asia pass for most of the travel.  It's a bit of a hassle to use this service.  What happens is you give them your dates of travel and departures/destinations, and they put together an itinerary for you.  So far, so good.  Next they quote you a price without taxes and fees, and send the itin to another department to be finalized.  So, it's not just a call up and book the flights thing.  They estimate that it will take 24-48 hours for your final itin with pricing to be available.  Not a big deal, but kind of a pain.

So, by the time I was ready to have our itins finalized, the agent told me that there were no more flights available with American or it's affiliates for travel from Tokyo to Seoul on Dec. 31.  Wow.  I mean, I figure it's a busy travel day, but we're still almost two months out.  Well, further research from my associate revealed that there WERE in fact seats available on American, but they were going for $900 and up.  And with the OneWorld Visit Asia pass, the Tokyo to Seoul leg of the journey was supposed to cost us $230.  So, apparently, there were seats available, but none they wanted to sell at the rate quoted.  American Airlines gets a big "fuck you" for that one.  I actually didn't find out that there WERE seats until I had already booked a different flight through Expedia, otherwise I would have raised hell.  I'm still thinking of doing a bit of hell-raising.
Anyway, moving on, I found a reasonable flight from Tokyo to Seoul on Expedia for $360.  Also, while researching my flights, I found a little Australian carrier called JetStar (jetstar.com) that flew from Bangkok to Singapore for dirt cheap.  So, I dropped that part of the itin from my Visit Asia booking (which was quoted at $130), and booked through JetStar for $75.  I know.  Not HUGE savings, but I assure you that 55 bucks will be put to good use.  The remaining flights booked through American (Seoul to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Bangkok, Singapore to Tokyo) came to $750.  One thing I found interesting, when I got the email receipt from booking my Visit Asia travel (which MUST be booked by phone.  can't be done over internet), there was an additional $20 for "telephone ticketing service."  Are you serious?!!?  Now you're charging people for calling and booking flights?  If I wasn't so excited and eager about this trip, we would be having major issues, American Airlines!  But, don't worry.  I remember things like this.

On to hotels...
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photo by: clearnite83