8 Countries and Three Continents for less than $1,000

Here is an example of how I used numerous tools to save loads of money and book myself the most round-about journey home, for when our time here in Thailand expires in September of this year. 1.) We were lucky enough to get in on this deal (hat tip to Matthew at UPGRD.com), and though our tickets were originally cancelled, after a little bit of patience and a passionate email into Vayama, Korean and Vayama reinstated our tickets from RGN-BKK-ICN-LAX in business class, for $445 each (all-in)!  Truth be told, I cited The Wandering Aramean and without his extensive article I significantly doubt my $4,500 worth of tickets would have been reinstated.

But... we are required to leave Thailand to meet the terms of our six month visitor visa on the 9th of September.  So really this problem starts at the end, we know we have to leave Thailand, neighbor to Burma a full nine days prior to our trip home, we have a couple of friends in Asia right now, and it would be a shame to just hang out in Yangon (Rangoon) when there is so much left to see in this corner of the world.

Let's look at what else we can see on our way out of Asia.

2.)  Now that we have the end to the story we need to get out of Thailand, first stop, Singapore for a day and a half stop to see a friend and one of the world's most dynamic economies.  BKK-SIN on Asia Air for $102 each.  Add another $12 for 30KG of checked bags and we will be on our way.



3.)  On to the sixth continent in the world for me, SIN-SYD, where we will be staying with a friend  for a few days.  We found a great deal on Scoot (a long haul discount division of Singapore Airlines) that will take us down there for $200 with our checked bag at 30KG each.


After a few days in Sydney, we need to start making our way to RGN, but this is poses a problem.  Myanmar has only opened up this year to considerable tourism (only 815,000 tourists last year when compared to neighbor Thailand with 15M) and is kind of the new hot place in Asia.  It's sad when places in this part of the world get overrun by tourists and filled with KFCs, so when you find a true gem unblemished by the western world like Myanmar (formerly Burma) it's great to get a chance to see it before that happens.  At the same time, Sydney-Yangon is not a well blazed path and extremely expensive to get to.  The sherpa had to find a way to get there without spending a fortune.

I priced out two well trafficked cities that are well connected to the rest of the region but also have short, inexpensive flights to RGN.  This was especially difficult because flights were unusually expensive coming back from SYD to either city before having to negotiate yet another layover and short haul before Myanmar.  The two cheapest cities were BKK, and KUL. We were going to have to burn an award ticket and then pickup our short haul connection onward.

Because our tourist visa would be expired, we could transit through BKK  but not out of the airport clearing customs.  The affordable Myanmar options were at 4:50PM and 7:00AM on AirAsia, but our flight from Sydney would arrive after the last one left for the day, meaning that we would essentially be Tom Hanks in The Terminal and even using the lounge for 13 hours would be uncomfortable in reality and not the best use of our time.

We could book KUL, I've never been to Malaysia so a twelve hour layover would be enough time to run into the city, see the Petronas Towers, take a picture like Kim Dot Com, and have some Laksa before heading off to Myanmar.  Before we could book that though we would have to get from SYD-KUL and that was proving tough.

We have a few accounts from which we could draw, but American had a great rate for the distance and allowed one-way redemptions, but using Aadvantage miles would limit us to oneworld.  The cheapest  one-way was 25,000 miles (though we will get 2,500 back from Citi) from the South Pacific to Asia 2.  That limits the carriers to just Qantas or Cathay Pacific and since Qantas does not fly to KUL directly. We would have to go SYD-HKG-KUL which according to CX exceeded the Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM) and the 25% buffer American allows.

My savvy agent routed with Qantas as their MPM allowance differs from CX. Booking as Qantas we were able to secure coach one-ways for 25k or 35k in business (still waiting for a seat to open).  We could have selected a 22 hour layover in HKG but instead opted for the shorter bit to give us more time in SYD and more time in KUL as we will be in HKG in 10 days.  The cost of the award booking $111 including the $25 phone booking fee as I am no longer AA elite. and 22,500 after the Citi rebate.


4.) As stated we will be off to the city for some time and then returning back to the airport for our very affordable and friendly, Air Asia flight, this set us back less than $90 each.  We added our bag fees, and I admit I added a comfort kit for $8. It seems like some really great branded Airline souvenirs that I will some day pass down to my yet to be conceived, but already annoyed kids.


5.)  And then back to #1 the following day after 25 hours in Burma.

Grand Total = $958 + 22,500 RDM

20,577 miles, with a checked bag at 30KG and that will be 8 countries in total (counting our return to America of course).


Want help booking this kind of a marathon or at least for these kinds of prices?  Buy my book (when it comes out)!  You can also send in your random questions to sherpa@thetravelsherpa.com and I will do my best to help you out or take us up on our free consultation services.

Posted on June 14, 2012 and filed under Examples.