TRAVEL RESOURCES (2020 UPDATED!)


[Updated for 2020] I've used these resources when I plan for trips, and listed some of these that may be useful for you. With these resources, you can now travel smart with a lower cost! Some of them include exclusives only available on this website. Check back again soon for the latest updates on these travel resources.


Booking air tickets



Skyscanner is my favourite website to compare airfares because they offer the most competitive prices and most importantly, allow a multi-city option. Particularly for trips to China, consider its Chinese website, tianxun.com.


There are plenty of cautionary tales about using third party platforms to book tickets, especially multi-city options. If everything goes swimmingly well in your travels, there is nothing to fear, but when delays/cancellations/air strikes occur, you will meet with tons of trouble that usually end up with only one choice: rebooking the flights at full cost.


Option 1: Use Skyscanner to mark out cheapest dates and flights
This is my preferred method of booking - to go to the original airline website to book the tickets based on Skyscanner's recommendations. It will usually be more expensive than booking via third party platforms; however, it does safeguard your travels especially when it comes to unforeseen circumstances. There is lesser risk when it comes to mis-booking, overbooked flights, etc.

Option 2: Use a third-party platform with more than 500 reviews and 3 stars
I do not recommend this, but I have done it more than a few times with no problems (i.e. on a smooth journey / flight delays but NOT cancellation). This option saves you between $100-400 SGD depending on the journey. If it is an early morning flight and a straight forward itinerary (return trip), you can take a leap of faith and go ahead.


Agoda has rolled out their Agoda - now with flights module in the last quarter of 2019, but the algorithm is still quite terrible and they don't recommend flights effectively. As much as I like Agoda, they would need some time to iron out the flight recommendations.


Accommodation

Agoda is my favourite option for booking hotels all over the world, because they offer the lowest prices most of the time for hotels and inns as compared to most other travel comparison sites, for the same listing. I have already made more than 30 bookings via Agoda with zero guest-hotel problems, and for minor hiccups here and there with Agoda, they have resolved it perfectly.

How to get the best of Agoda?

1. Download the Agoda app.
They give better discounts on the app.


2. "Total price per night"
Select the currency of your choice > Select "Total price per night" (Default choice will be Base price per night). This saves you time to go to the final price breakdown to find that there are hidden add-ons.

3. Book at least 2 weeks in advance.
Okay, you last-minute travellers (high-five), this is not a good habit to keep. If you want to get the best value-for-money accommodations especially for peak travel seasons, you HAVE TO book in advance because these get snapped up so fast! It's disappointing to see the "Sold Out" for your dates sign on the site.


Booking one day in advance - 88.25% discount

4. Or, book super last minute (i.e. 1-2 days before)
This is a controversial advice, but my usual practice. This is when Agoda/hotels starts releasing crazy discounts (70-80% off) because it's better for the rooms to be sold at a cheap price than to be kept empty for the night, right? I love these because you can get 4-star or 5-star accommodations at a small fraction of the price. There are many examples and you can toggle around the dates to see this play out in front of your eyes.

Word of warning, please do not do this for peak travel seasons / destinations / destinations with huge events / important occasions/ huge party size (more than 2 pax) / destinations with limited hotels / long stays (more than 3 nights). This could backfire when you can't find a single hotel that fits your requirements.


5. Look for the following labels
These are my favourite labels: 

"Newly built in 2019": Usually the newer the hotel, the more likely that it has the latest styles of amenities and international standards of service. You will also meet with less dust, dirt, and problems of disrepair.

"Your Daily Deal": This is usually the best deal of the day in terms of value-for-money, and the score ranking of the hotel is usually more than 8 as well. 



"AgodaVIP Deal": Applies only for VIPs, but this is an exclusive discount which is very attractive. To become a VIP, you need 5 or more completed (checked-out) bookings in the last 2 years.

6. Booked something wrongly on Agoda? And omg for a non-refundable booking??!
Don't worry. Not all is lost. There are many times that I've gotten on the wrong side of this seamless process of booking on Agoda. Wrong dates? Wrong hotels? Double booked two hotels? After you login, head over to this help page, if it is a simple enquiry, otherwise, I prefer to just call them straightaway:

Australia
+61 2 8066 2868
Austria
+43 720 380085
Bahrain
+973 1 619 6662
Belgium
+32 2 620 08 18
Brazil
+55 11 4280 5290
Canada
+1 416 216 4151
China
4008 218 877
France
+33 185 148 161
Germany
+49 698 679 9066
Hong Kong
+852 3071 1201
Hungary
+36 1 4292234
India
0008000501620
Indonesia
+62 21 2561 7999
Israel
+972 7 22713343
Italy
+39 02 38591359
Japan
+81 3 5767 9333
Macau
+853 6262 5205
Malaysia
+60 3 2053 1869
New Zealand
+64 9339 1656
Oman
800 74317
Philippines
+63 2 8 246 9092
Portugal
+351 210609454
Russia
+7 495 705 9247
Saudi Arabia
+966 11 510 8738
Singapore
+65 6329 7537
South Africa
+27 11 844 6064
South Korea
+82 7 0478 44366
Spain
+34 91 754 7020
Switzerland
+41 31 547 90 55
Taiwan
+886 2 8723 1285
Thailand
+66 2 016 4106
United Arab Emirates
800 0330 5203
United Kingdom
+44 20 3027 7900
United States
+1 866 656 8207
Vietnam
+84 28 4458 2393

The hotlines get picked up pretty quickly. Describe your problem and see what they can do, even in the case of non-refundable bookings.

1. Agoda can help to negotiate with the hotel, to get a refund for you. If the hotel allows it, it comes in the form of Agoda Cash.
2. Agoda's negotiation falls through, request to negotiate directly with the hotel, with Agoda as a passive middleman. You are on your own, but muster your best negotiator skills. Hint: Say good stuff about the hotel + promise future bookings. Good luck.

7. For hotel chains with memberships
Double count your points - once with Agoda, and another with the hotel chain membership program. 

Although I loved Airbnb, I have used lesser of it because there is always an element of risk that the check-in is not smooth for tight itineraries (number one pet peeve and worry). BUT it is still a great way for you to meet locals in the land that you're visiting and to live in a place you might dream of having. I have used Airbnb a few times and I love most of my experiences there.

To avoid situations that you may potentially dread, read the reviews, talk to the host via the message function,and  ensure the exact address location before you leave for your trip. Get an additional SGD25 off here.

Alternative to Airbnb which I have not tried.

Itinerary, activities, other tickets

There are plenty of itinerary and activities sites out there, but I am a firm believer that everything that you plan / book directly with the provider / locals is cheaper. You're dealing with the extra inconvenience or the feeling of uncertainty. If your itinerary isn't tight, I would recommend going to the destination and deciding there. 

Some of the platforms - Airbnb, Kkday, Klook, Voyagin - are massively advertising throughout social media. If your travelling style is "spend, close my eyes and relax" - then this option will be excellent for you.

How I use these:  They give plenty of ideas or a sense on what to do at the destination.





Special mention for those who are travelling to China - Ctrip (China version of trip.com), mafengwo.cn, dianping.com are your best friends! For major attractions' tickets and train tickets, prior booking is a MUST or you will risk running out of tickets / waiting for a long time. If you have Wechat, you can always download these as mini-apps in your phone and it will help a lot. 

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