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Closing out the fun at the Family Travel for Real Life (#FT4RL) conference, and continuing the live blogging!  I hope that you will follow along with me as we learn about family travel, and how those of us with families can take part in it with their families.  See below for the lineup of speakers and follow us throughout the day with hashtag #FT4RL on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

Rich the Points Jock set the FT4RL record for furthest visitor – coming all the way from Tokyo to talk about Asian Destinations with Families.

He started out the presentation with a hilarious video of him interviewing his coworkers on the military base in Japan with different questions about travel (“What is an open jaw?  What’s the capacity of an A380”).  

Here it is

Why go to Asia?

Asia is just completely opposite of the west.  One nice thing is that you can get cheap SIM cards which make language and navigation bearable and English is more widespread and accepted

Different cultures are separated by 30 minutes – going from Japan to Korea is a totally different world.  Kuala Lumpur to Singapore or Singapore to Jakarta puts you in a totally different world.  As far as safety goes, Rich said that 98% of the time, he feels safer in Asia than in his Georgia hometown

How to get to Asia

The best options for economy travel are American AAdvantage miles which is 50,000 miles off-peak to North Asia and availability is great on American metal as well as Cathay Pacific or Japan Air Lines.  United and Delta both charge 70,000 miles.  Korean (a Chase transfer) also charges 70,000 roundtrip and they fly to 9 different US destinations

For premium cabins, DeltaOne for 140,000 miles roundtrip.  United charges 130,000 miles roundtrip in business class and 150,000 miles on partners.  American charges 100,000 miles for their partners (Japan and Cathay) in business class and 125,000 miles in first class to go to Asia 1 (northern Asia).  Asia 2 costs 110,000 in business class and 135,000 in first class.

Korean Skypass charges 125,000 roundtrip in business class

Getting around in Asia

There are tons of discount airlines in Asia such as JetStar, AirAsia and several others.  I’ve written before about the Air Asia ASEAN pass which gives you unlimited travel within Southeast Asia. Rich shared an example of AirAsia with a flight from Japan to Bangkok (a 7 hour flight) for only $130 in economy or $300 in lie-flat business class

Public transportation is also really a good deal in most cities within Asia.  One recommendation was to not take a cab in Bangkok as if there is traffic, you’re just not going anywhere – he recommended taking the train there into the city.

3 different recommended destinations in Asia

If you want to start out to Asia, here were Rich’s 3 top destinations.

Japan

  • North to South: Sapporo, Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Okinawa
  • Food, entertainment, history, nature, urban, rural
  • Baseball, Disney, Dotonbori, Sumo, Miyazaki, beaches, Nagoya, Mt. Fuji, Niseko, etc. etc.

4500 Avios will get you from Tokyo to anywhere in Japan

Singapore

Rich said that he’s on a warpath to bust the “myth” that Singapore is expensive – it doesn’t have to be!

  • It’s easy to get to with low-cost carriers
  • Cheap taxis and subway
  • Every hotel chain out there to stay on points
  • There’s tons of cheap street food

Family attractions – Sentosa Island, Botanical Gardens, Gardens by the Bay, waterfront district / Singapore Flyer

Vietnam

The Hyatt Regency Da Nang is only 12,000 points / night and is Rich’s favorite Hyatt.  The dollar goes forever  as well.

Other great attractions include a Water Puppets show, and the vendors are non-pushy

Points go a long way in Asia

United only charges 12,500 miles to go from Japan to Oceania (Fiji)

Air Canada (until December 15th) lets you go intra-Asia (including Singapore!) for only 30,000 in business class.

There are also several hotels in Asia that are way undervalued

More hidden gems in Asia

Here are a few more “hidden gems” or destinations off the beaten path in Asia

  • Macau Cotai Resorts
    • House of Dancing Waters in City of Dreams
  • Choice Hotels can be a great redemption – there are some GREAT redemptions
  • Kuala Lumpur
    • Aloft / Le Meridien Lounge
    • Petronas Towers, Batu Caves, Museums
  • Park Hyatt Beijing
    • Toboggan Down the Great Wall at Mutianyu

And even with that, we’ve only skimmed the surface in Asia – there are tons of great destinations such as Myanmar, Brunei, Mongolia, Nepal, Indonesia, Laos, more in China, Bhutan, etc.

Another good tip is a Phillipine startup called Kakalocal – which for around $15-20 a day you can hire a local guide in Manila or Kuala Lumpur who will take you around and give you an authentic local experience.

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