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Top Value destinations in Asia Pacific

February 25, 20168 minute read
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How do you decide where to go for your next holiday?

Heart? Head? Or pocket? You want top value for your holiday budget?

If you’re prepared to look about a bit, you may be able to get a bit of all three and have the perfect getaway. One of the most popular destination for Australian travellers continues to be Bali, which is the most affordable destination from every mainland capital except Brisbane.

To make it a little easier, Global flight comparison platform, Cheapflights have just released their Cheapflights Compass, a new annual research piece which identifies the most affordable destinations across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.

Apart from the fare breakdown and comparisons shown in the helpful table below, the research also uncovered some other interesting snippets about the travel habits of the Aussie holidaymaker.

1 Denpasar-Bali, Indonesia $482 Denpasar-Bali, Indonesia $494 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea $542 Denpasar-Bali, Indonesia $482 Denpasar-Bali, Indonesia $479 Denpasar-Bali, Indonesia $284
2 Singapore $559 Singapore $511 Denpasar-Bali, Indonesia $569 Singapore $695 Dili, Timor Leste $500 Singapore $347
3 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia $561 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia $558 Port Vila, Vanuatu $609 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia $722 Singapore $510 Penang, Malaysia $378
4 Port Vila, Vanuatu $597 Penang, Malaysia $630 Nadi, Fiji $657 Johor Bahru, Malaysia $786 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia $569 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia $379
5 Nadi, Fiji $623 Langkawi, Malaysia $649 Singapore $688 Port Vila, Vanuatu $805 Bangkok, Thailand $645 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam $461
6 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea $643 Bangkok, Thailand $655 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia $715 Nadi, Fiji $805 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam $646 Phuket, Thailand $477
7 Bangkok, Thailand $644 Phuket, Thailand $656 Honiara, Solomon Islands $733 Bangkok, Thailand $843 Phuket, Thailand $657 Bangkok, Thailand $478
8 Langkawi, Malaysia $650 Nadi, Fiji $673 Noumea, New Caledonia $792 Phuket, Thailand $854 Manila, Philippines $715 Langkawi, Malaysia $480
9 Penang, Malaysia $651 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam $674 Manila, Philippines $804 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam $868 Phnom Penh, Cambodia $758 Yangon, Myanmar $520
10 Phuket, Thailand $705 Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia $683 Penang, Malaysia $844 Manila, Philippines $890 Balikpapan, India $767 Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia $536
11 Shanghai, China $710 Krabi, Thailand $690 Phuket, Thailand $852 Chengdu, China $893 Yangon, Myanmar $778 Krabi, Thailand $563
12 Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia $717 Yangon, Myanmar $717 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam $853 Hong Kong, China $901 Hong Kong, China $805 Hong Kong, China $573
13 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam $718 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea $719 Bangkok, Thailand $853 Yangon, Myanmar $915 Hanoi, Vietnam $824 Phnom Penh, Cambodia $590
14 Noumea, New Caledonia $725 Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei $725 Nuku’alofa, Tonga $858 Phnom Penh, Cambodia $941 Cebu, Philippines $855 Chiang Mai, Thailand $605
15 Manila, Philippines $726 Shanghai, China $737 Suva, Fiji $889 Shanghai, China $963 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea $905 Manila, Philippines $615
16 Surabaya, Indonesia $738 Taipei, Taiwan $750 Chiang Mai, Thailand $891 Chennai, Indonesia $966 Davao, Philippines $907 Hanoi, Vietnam $624
17 Yangon, Myanmar $739 Guangzhou, China $763 Hong Kong, China $905 Hanoi, Vietnam $967 Kochi, India $908 Taipei, Taiwan $627
18 Hong Kong, China $775 Siem Reap, Cambodia $767 Yangon, Myanmar $923 Siem Reap, Cambodia $985 Hyderabad, India $932 Kochi, India $670
19 Phnom Penh, Cambodia $780 Hong Kong, China $770 Shanghai, China $943 Cebu, Philippines $991 Taipei, Taiwan $966 Siem Reap, Cambodia $678
20 Guangzhou, China $782 Port Vila, Vanuatu $772 Dalian, China $952 Kochi, India $994 Port Vila, Vanuatu $982 Cebu, Philippines $692
21 Cebu, Philippines $801 Phnom Penh, Cambodia $772 Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia $952 Guangzhou, China $998 Nadi, Fiji $996 Da Nang, Vietnam $706
22 Chiang Mai, Thailand $808 Chiang Mai, Thailand $773 Hanoi, Vietnam $957 Dalian, China $1,013 Ko Samui, Thailand $1,035 Colombo, Sri Lanka $711
23 Siem Reap, Cambodia $817 Manila, Philippines $774 Kaohsiung, Taiwan $970 Wuhan, China $1,030 Lucknow, India $1,060 Chennai, India $722
24 Harbin, China $832 Noumea, New Caledonia $799 Siem Reap, Cambodia $971 Ko Samui, Thailand $1,037 Colombo, Sri Lanka $1,067 Shanghai, China $736
25 Rarotonga Island, Cook Islands $853 Nuku’alofa, Tonga $823 Guangzhou, China $971 Hyderabad, India $1,044 Male, Maldives $1,082 Guangzhou, China $753

According to their research, based on data collated from over six hundred thousand searches on in January 2016, Cheapflights Compass found that 70 per cent of all flight searches were to APAC destinations.

Getting the best fare, choosing the right destination

The research also showed that despite the most popular searches were for countries like New Zealand, India, Philippines, China and Sri Lanka, the results showed that there was potential for those willing to adjust their planned destination for a more affordable option. Thus, based on the national average for return fares, the top value airports include Indonesia, Thailand, Fiji, Malaysia and Singapore.

As examples they quoted a choice of Singapore, second cheapest from four cities over Manila, with a best spot of 9th from Brisbane and 10th from Adelaide. Also worthy on a mention was Shanghai, great for business or leisure, which loses to Kuala Lumpur on affordability, depending on your departure city.

Also offered as part of the presentation were a couple of travel hacks that can help the traveller looking for a good deal. While we agree that clearing your browser between your search sessions is a good way to go, their suggestion that booking on a Tuesday and choosing evening fares will get you the best price, may be good advice, it’s also useful to remember that airlines often run special price deals on certain days, at certain times. Virgin Australia has their Thursday Happy Hour, Scoot loves Tuesday morning, Tiger‘s a Tuesday pick as well, and Jetstar is always good to check during their Friday Frenzy.

The Cheapflights Compass state-by-state affordability breakdown also showed:

Aussies’ love affair with Bali is backed by its supreme affordability, with the airport ranked #1 most affordable across every state bar Brisbane (where it ranked #2) (What to say, visiting Bali’s a right of passage for most Aussies, so go for it!)

Up and coming Singapore trumped popular Bangkok, ranking #2 for departures from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, #3 for Darwin and #5 from Brisbane (Singapore is a great hub to fly on to other great destinations and you can often get great deals on stopovers But be warned – Singapore is pretty clean, much cleaner than most other South East Asian cities and the food is great. BUT – many of the dishes they claim as Singaporean actually originated elsewhere, so look in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and other parts of Malaysia in particular, for the ‘original and best‘!) 

Malaysian airports performed strongly with Kuala Lumpur beating out the likes of Nadi, Bangkok and Manila to rank #3 from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, #4 from Darwin and Perth, and #6 from Melbourne (With the number of relatively inexpensive flights out of Kuala Lumpur International Airport to many regional destinations, this is definitely a winner. But do be careful when checking out the prices – the add-ons are getting more pricey.)

Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei featured as #14 most affordable airport for Melbournians (Possibly because there’s not much to do there and they don’t have (or didn’t) any duty free outlets.)

Myanmar’s Yangon emerged across the board as highly affordable option, well ahead of more traditional ‘off the beaten track’ destinations like Cambodia. (The hotels are a little on the expensive side, but one thing that’s definitely cheaper is a Singapore Sling – it will cost you only a third of the price in the Long Bar or Raffles Hotel in Singapore, if you enjoy it in the beautiful and elegant Strand Hotel in Yangon.) 

…. Getting the ultimate deal requires balance across affordable airport, departure day and booking timing, so savvy Aussies will do their homework. This research provides an inspiration point, uncovering hidden gems that will allow locals to expand their horizons, but not their wallets. Cheapflights MD, Andrew Shelton

A few of the other additional key findings include:

  • Try to fly out mid-week (While most Aussies seek to fly out on Thursday or Friday, by departing on Wednesday instead of Friday, consumers could save $25 per fare on average)
  • It’s good to be organised early by you can still find good deals closer to your departure. (Booking two to six months in advance rather than one to two months ahead ultimately only delivers around $22 in savings per fare)
  • Distance matters – the closer your destination the better fare you’re likely to get. (Darwinians are the most likely to choose APAC travel (49 per cent), followed by those in Perth (44 per cent) and Melbourne (42 per cent))
  • Some still like to check out ‘home’ first. (Darwin and Adelaide are home to the top domestic travellers, with 35 and 34 per cent searching internal flights compared with just 21 per cent for Melbournians and 19 per cent for Sydneysiders)
  • It costs less to have a cuppa coffee in the coffee capital of Oz if you factor in the ‘getting there‘ cost. (Melbourne is Australia’s most affordable domestic flight destination, based on a national average, closely followed by Sydney. It also wins on price when it comes to most affordable departure point for a Trans-Tasman trip at just $429 return compared with $860 for those in Darwin or Perth)
  • Lots of East Coast-ers have friends and rellies in the land of the long white cloud, so this also makes sense – (With geography in their favour, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne locals are the most likely to cross the Tasman (10, 9, 8 per cent respectively)

….. and what’s  Economy Traveller’s favourite ‘Hidden Gem’?

Some of our favourite destinations are well placed on the table, but one overlooked destination has to be Vientiane, Laos where we spent a great few days.

What’s not to like? Not much!
  • The food – their sticky rice is ‘the best’  – eat a generous portion washed with tasty gravy and anything else you want – this writer could have been happy with just rice and gravy!
  • The accommodation is inexpensive and the folk are laid back and friendly.
  • There’s a ‘country town’ air to the city even though it’s the country’s capital and you can walk the whole city in a day or two.
  • They have wonderful restaurants selling food from many countries and the French cafes sell great breakfasts and pastries – try almond croissants almost anywhere.
  • The coffee is great, especially if you try the local beans, brewed french style.
  • You can actually buy souvenirs that aren’t made in China!
# Asia Pacific (APAC), best price, best value, Cheapflights
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