While airfares in Asia seem to have crept up a little from 2012, there are still some exceptionally cheap tickets to be discovered for your adventures this winter. The prices for domestic flights within Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia are some of the cheapest in the world. Some longer flights to China and Taiwan are also surprisingly well-priced this winter. (Just watch out for Chinese New Year when prices are unanimously sky-high.)
AirAsia really comes out ahead of other budget airlines in our survey, but when shopping for tickets always remember to do your research: discover any alternative airports nearby that you may be able to fly into for cheaper (think Bangkok’s Don Meung airport instead of the main BKK airport), find out which airlines serve the main (and the secondary) airports, then visit each airline website to search for fares.
As I made plans to jet around Asia this winter, here are 5 flights that could only be described as dirt-cheap.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (1,000 miles / $25 one-way on AirAsia)
At 2.5 cents per mile flown, this may just be the cheapest airline ticket in Asia. Domestic flights in oil-producing countries are often a bargain, but this takes it to a new level. Plus Malaysian Borneo is a hot spot for adventure, with plenty of mountains and uncharted jungle to kindle your spirit for exploration.
Manila, the Philippines to Shanghai, China (1,150 miles / $52 one way on AirAsia)
Flights to/from mainland China are often crowded and pricey (think $250 for the short hop from Guangzhou to Taipei – yikes!). But thanks again to AirAsia, we have a better option. While Shanghai is a destination that’s more than worthy of a spot on your next itinerary, it is a bit far from the common cheap-flight hubs such as Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. However this winter you’re in luck, with AirAsia’s Philippine affiliate “Zest” (which is now accessible through the AirAsia website) taking you from Manila all the way to Shanghai for a mere $52.
Makassar, Sulawesi, Indonesia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (1,350 miles / $40 one-way on AirAsia)
If you’re looking to genuinely dis-connect from modern life, consider grabbing an exceptionally cheap ticket to Sulawesi Island, one of Indonesia largest, yet least developed. Scuba enthusiasts take note: this exotic island boasts a vast coastline with an impressive variety of beautiful marine life just offshore. And thanks to AirAsia, your ticket back to the region’s transit hub (Kuala Lumpur) will set you back a mere $40.
Manila, the Philippines to Davao, the Philippines (600 miles / $15 one-way on AirAsia)
The Philippines sees fewer tourists than the other large nations in the region, and only a fraction of visitors to the Philippines even consider visiting Davao. This southern city is located on the island of Mindanao, long considered by some to be unsafe for western tourists given the separatist groups operating here. But Davao shouldn’t be written off so quickly. Mindanao has become significantly more stable recently, and tourists are starting to discover the beautiful beaches, lush rainforest and of course Mt. Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines, which is just 40km from Davao. This obscure destination might be just what the doctor ordered and if tickets stay at a mere $15, why not drop in and check it out?
Taipei, Taiwan, to Singapore (2,000 miles / $75 one-way on Tigerair)
Flights in/out of Taiwan are notoriously expensive. Options are limited and even budget airlines have a hard time keeping prices low. Singapore-based Tigerair, however, seems to have done the impossible. The budget-carrier is offering a $75 flight out of Taiwan to Singapore Changi airport – and considering the alternatives, that is a steal. If Singapore isn’t your destination of choice (who could blame you – we don’t like $40 hamburgers either) Changi airport has a wide variety of cheap airlines to choose from to whisk you away to more budget-friendly destinations. Use Singapore as a transit point and continue on to Kuala Lumpur, Penang or Banda Aceh (about $25 one-way on AirAsia).
If I find anymore cheap flights in Asia, I will update this post with the new info.