Planning and booking flights can be a bit daunting and quite stressful. Like most things, it’s crucial to have a plan and do your research. You might want to just ‘get it done’, but take it from us when we say: slow and steady wins the race when you’re booking flights. Whether you’re travelling alone or booking for yourself and a friend or partner, this blog provides useful guidance to make the process easier and less stressful.
Step 1: Start Early and Plan Ahead
Avoid expensive flights that eat into your spending money by starting early and planning ahead when booking. Do your research, settle on a date that works for you and start looking for flights on websites like Skyscanner, Google Flights or similar. Prices will vary depending on the season and demand. Giving yourself enough time can increase your chances of finding the most convenient and affordable flights for your trip.
Step 2: Think About Your Onward Travel Plans
At this point, you should think about whether you’ll be travelling to another place after your tour or heading back home. Booking a return ticket is usually more cost-effective than booking each leg separately. We recommend that our travellers do just this for trips to Thailand, Sri Lanka and Bali. Book a return international ticket and then look into return airport transfers separately, whether that’s a domestic flight, taxi to the airport or even a ferry. On the other hand, our Vietnam trip starts in Hanoi and finishes in Ho Chi Minh City, so it’s more cost-effective to book the legs separately or as a ‘Multi-city’ ticket.
Here are the airports you need to aim for;
- Thailand: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) or Don Mueang International Airport (DMK)
- Vietnam: Noi Bai International Airport (HAN)
- Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City Airport (SGN)
- Sri Lanka: Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)
- Bali: Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS)
- Australia: Sydney International Airport (SYD) or Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (MEL)
Step 3: Know Your Route
Before booking your flight, it’s important to look closely at the details of the tour you’ve booked, especially where the tour starts and finishes. Often, the trip will finish at a different place from where it begins. You may need to book a ferry, domestic flight, or taxi to get back to the airport where your tour started. Later in the guide, you’ll find specific advice for each trip to help with booking your flights and planning your journey.
Step 4: Allow for Extra Time
Always allow yourself extra time to accommodate unexpected delays, particularly during layovers. If your flights are booked as a single itinerary, you won’t need to worry as much about this. However, if you book the legs separately, often referred to as a ‘Self Transfer’, it’s more important to allow additional time. Simply follow the guidance from the airport staff, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if needed.
Step 5: Final Checks
Now that you’ve written everything down and taken screenshots of exactly what you plan to do go back through it all and triple-check all the details. Pay careful attention to timings and consider asking a friend or family member for a second opinion on your plans. Once you’re 100% happy, it’s time to book that flight and start the countdown! 🥳
How to book flights: FAQ
We suggest aiming to arrive during the middle of the 1st day, it’s not essential, but it will give you time to freshen up before we head out for dinner and drinks. You’ll be grateful for that little extra time to relax, soak up some afternoon sun or just go for a wander and explore the local area.
Absolutely! We actually recommend arriving a day or 2 early to give you more time to recharge and enjoy a bit of ‘me time’ before the tour begins. There might be experiences on your bucket list that we don’t include on the trip; this is the perfect time to fit them in.
Anyone arriving on Day 1 or who decides to book pre-tour accommodation with us will be picked up by our trusted drivers when they land. They’ll be standing waiting at the airport with a Feel Free Travel sign, so you’ll have no issues finding them 🙌🏼
We’ll email everyone up-to-date arrival instructions 2 weeks before the trip with exactly where to meet the driver. Once you get picked up, we’ll get you back to the hotel and check-in. If your flight is running late, don’t worry, we’ll be tracking your progress on Google and will be waiting for you to arrive.
The first day is the ‘Arrival Day’. There isn’t a huge amount planned. It’s the perfect day to relax, catch some sun and get your bearings. In the evening, it’s time to meet your new travel family, as we’ll be taking you all out to one of our favourite spots for dinner and chilled drinks.
All our tours finish on the morning of the final day. This will give you plenty of time to get back to the airport, ready for that flight home or onto your next destination.
We always suggest booking your return flight a bit later on the final day. This will give you plenty of time to get back to the airport and enough time to say your goodbyes and leave without any stress or worries. The airport is approximately 45mins to 1 hour from the hotel in Uluwatu.
Thailand: South to North 15 days
As the group tour in Thailand begins in Bangkok, you will typically be arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). This is Bangkok’s main airport and where most of the big international airlines operate. If you’re flying from within South East Asia, you might end up at Don Mueang International Airport (DMK), don’t worry; this is perfectly normal.
For those of you booking return tickets, it’s a good idea to do this too and from Bangkok, even though the trip finishes in Chiang Mai. When planning your flight home from Bangkok, booking a ticket for late afternoon or early evening on Day 15 is wise. This will give you time to take a domestic flight from Chiang Mai late in the morning or after lunch. It takes approximately 20-30 minutes to get to the airport in Chiang Mai, where we finish the tour.
Pro-tip: Leave 4 hours between your planned arrival in Bangkok from Chiang Mai and your major international flight home. This allows for possible delays and reduces the stress levels if the baggage carousel gets stuck. 😆
Thailand: Bangkok & the South 9 days
The arrival process is very similar to the 15-day trip, but you’ll be finishing the tour on the Phi Phi Islands on Day 9. Phuket International Airport (HKT) and Krabi International Airport (KBV) are the two closest airports.
IMPORTANT: You should not book a flight from either of these airports any earlier than 2 pm for domestic journeys or 3 pm for international ones. This will give you enough time to transfer by ferry and minivan from the islands to the airport.
The most common route is a domestic flight from Phuket to Bangkok in the early afternoon to connect with the international flight home (remember to consider the 4-hour gap that we mentioned in the pro-tip above).
If you have a long wait between flights there us pod/capsule style accommdoation at Bangkok airport. You can either use this option or book yourself a hotel close by using booking.com or a similar website.
Vietnam: North to South 15 days
The group tours in Vietnam start in Hanoi (in the north) and finish in Ho Chi Minh (in the south), which, funnily enough, is how we get the name 🤪. Unlike Thailand, you’ll want to look at options that match the two major cities rather than taking a domestic flight. Both cities have major airports with all the big airlines operating, so you should have no issues making it work. This is actually the most common way of doing it. It takes approximately 30-45 minutes to get to the airport in Ho Chi Min City, where we finish the tour.
The other option is to book a return flight to Hanoi and then a domestic flight on Day 15 back, to Hanoi. Like Thailand, we suggest booking a domestic flight in the morning and ensuring your international flight is in the late afternoon or evening (we recommend allowing yourself 4 hours between landing in Hanoi and your international flight to reduce stress levels).
Vietnam: Hanoi to Hoi An 10 days
The arrival details are again very similar, with Hanoi being your initial target, but the main difference is that the tour finishes in Hoi An. The closest airport to Hoi An is Da Nang International (DAD), which is approximately a 45-minute to a 1-hour taxi ride away.
The most common option from Da Nang is to book a connecting flight to either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and fly on from there. Da Nang is an international airport, but the routes are typically only within South East Asia.
Best of Asia: Thailand & Vietnam 29 days
Since the tour starts in Thailand, you should plan your arrival as if you were doing one of our Thailand trips. The airports to arrive are either Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) or Don Mueang International Airport (DMK).
After 15 incredible days in Thailand, you’ll need to make your way to Vietnam. The process is fairly straightforward, as there are often direct routes between Chiang Mai and Hanoi. Where possible, we suggest aiming to arrive in the middle of the day, but this isn’t essential. We suggest getting this flight between the 2 countries booked ASAP as there is no real benefit leaving it and flight prices usually creep up as the trip approaches.
You’ll then start the second leg of your trip with 15 incredible days in Vietnam, with the first day being a transition between the two countries. What’s special about this trip is that you’ll meet some new faces who are only doing Vietnam, as the Best of Asia is a ‘combo’ trip. This means it’s the two popular Thailand and Vietnam trips combined.
The Best of Asia trip will finish in the south of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City on the morning of Day 29. The airport is approximately 30-45 minutes from the hotel.
We actually made a whole blog on booking those connecting flights. Click here to have a read!
Sri Lanka: Lanka Loop 12 days
The group tour in Sri Lanka begins a short drive from the airport in a little seaside town called Negombo. The airport is actually closer to Negombo than Colombo. The airport you’ll arrive & depart from is Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB).
The tour will loop clockwise and finish in the beachside town of Unawatuna, only a short drive from the Galle Forte. What’s great about Unwatuna and Galle is the easy access to the highway. You can often get to the airport in 2 hours from the hotel where we finish the tour. It’s always a good idea to plan for 3 hours, but this is being extra cautious.
Bali: Best of Bali 12 days
We start our group tours in Bali in Canggu, just a stone’s throw from the beach. With Bali being such a small island, the distance between the airport and the Canggu Hotel is pretty short in distance. The main issue to expect in Bali is traffic, especially during the busy times of the day (when people are commuting or there are festivities which is very often in Bali).
The same goes for where we finish the tour in Ulawatu, the drive to the airport should take approx 30 minutes without traffic, but it’s a good idea to leave a solid hour or even longer if there are religious ceremonies/festivals in the area. Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS) is a small airport compared to some of the others mentioned above, so it’s also a good idea to expect delays. Your Group Leader will help when planning a taxi, or you can use the popular Uber-style transport GoJek.
What about visas for all these countries?
It’s important to check the visa requirements for your passport before travelling. However, please note that we are not visa experts and cannot provide specific guidance on visas.
Each country and passport may have different rules, so it’s essential to conduct thorough research and meet all the requirements.
Please check your visa eligibility, as the information provided is general. To get the latest and most accurate visa information, consider visiting your local embassy’s website or consulate for each country you plan to visit. Visa requirements can change regularly and may vary depending on your nationality. Stay informed to have a smooth travel experience.
Important: Click here to read our blog on ‘Your ‘Unofficial’ Visa Guide for Asia & Australia 2022’
Whether you’re looking to travel solo or bring a friend along for the ride, our group tours in Bali, South East Asia & Australia are the perfect balance of culture, adventure, chill time & nightlife. You’ll arrive as strangers and leave as the best of friends.