As we all know, Air Asia is a no frills low cost carrier which offers excellent deals for travel within Asia, and elsewhere. However, not many of us know about the Air Asia ASEAN Pass which is a true blessing for budget travelers, like myself.
So last year when I was contemplating hopping around SE Asia for a month, I stumbled upon this pass. Actually no, someone told me about it and I looked it up – which was really difficult as I could not find any info about it anywhere on their website – Weird, but they are not really pushing it like their popular deals slideshow on the main page.
Anyways, so this awesome pass is practically all you need for traveling within Asia. Air Asia has excellent connectivity and the pass covers over 140 routes across Asia ,so once you buy the pass it is pretty much set and forget. If you are flexible with your dates and places you want to visit – then, this is the perfect opportunity to explore at practically 1/4th to 1/10th of the actual air fare cost.
Let me explain what the Air Asia ASEAN Pass is all about first.
Basically you have 2 categories –
1st is where you can buy 10 credits for MYR 499 (Approx $115) Valid for 30 days from first flight
2nd is where you can buy 20 credits for MYR 888 (Approx $215) Valid for 60 days from your first flight booked using the pass
So what are these credits and how you can use them ?
Well, you redeem credits against flights. Most flights cost just 1 credit per way, so you can actually pretty much book 10 flights around Asia for JUST $115 .
How great is that ? Splendid, isn’t it ?
Here are their detailed routes and how many “Credits” you need for redeeming a flight on those routes – http://www.airasia.com/in/en/book-with-us/asean-pass/list-of-available-destinations.page
How I planned my itinerary across 3 countries using Air Asia ASEAN Pass
First, I took out a pen and paper and jotted down the list of places I wanted to visit. Next, I checked on their list of destinations for the pass and wrote down how many credits were required to fly on that route.
Once, I had the list, I checked my schedule to see how much time I wanted to spend on my travels currently. I decided I wanted to go for a month so I purchased the first pass – 10 credits for 30 days validity. Typically, I like to spend more time in one location then just hopping from one/another in a short timeframe , hence, the 2nd option was not feasible if I just had 30 days on hand. Though, if you are traveling for 2 months, I would surely recommend option 2 – it turns out to be much more cost effective and gives you more bang for your buck.
Okay so now I had 10 credits and a list of destinations plus 30 days at hand.
I started checking availability . Please note that availability on AirAsia.com and the availability of tickets under the pass differs. So always login to your ASEAN pass dashboard to check “Real” availability of the routes/tickets you can avail for your dates under your pass – This is a separate “quota”.
Once I did that, I realized that few destinations that were on my list like Vietnam, were out due to lack of availability on the dates I wanted to fly in. Another destination on my list – Myanmar , was crossed out due to bad weather at that time. So, finally here is the route I decided to take. (At the time of making this itinerary I was in Bandung, Indonesia) . So, to reach my first destination, I had to take a bus for 3-4 hrs costing additional $15 (Approx).
Jakarta to Bangkok (Don Mueang) = 3 Credits
Bangkok to Phnom Penh = 1 Credit
Siem Reap to Bangkok = 1 Credit
Bangkok to Krabi = 1 Credit
Krabi to Bangkok = 1 Credit
Bangkok to Jakarta = 3 Credits
Total = 10 credits and ONE EPIC ADVENTURE
I took 6 flights for JUST $115. Original cost for this exact same itinerary if you book on Air Asia’s web portal, for shoulder season is anywhere from $400 upwards.
This is what my itinerary looked like –
As you can see I traveled to/fro Bangkok a lot which means my base was Bangkok. Why ? Well, because I checked the destination list of the ASEAN pass and almost all major destinations were just 1 credit to/fro Bangkok, so it made practical sense to use Bangkok as base for the month. Flying in and out of Bangkok was so cheap using the pass so infact if you just fly into Bangkok once and then start using your pass , you can take upto 20 flights in and out – If you are buying the 2nd pass. How amazing is that ?
Few notes –
- Check availability of flights on the book now page after you login and go to your ASEAN pass dashboard – that will give you “real time” availability.
- High season/ weekends might not be available for popular destinations so be flexible with your schedule.
- Travel light – Just one backpack upto 7 kgs and I handbag/ laptop bag – Else you end up paying their excess luggage charges
- Plan in advance – It helps if you book 2 months before hand
- Don’t use Chrome browser. Bookings go through error free if you use Firefox.
For More Info –
Read all about the Air Asia ASEAN Pass here – http://www.airasia.com/in/en/book-with-us/asean-pass
Well that’s about it. What are you waiting for ? Start your SE Asia adventure now ! Have you already used the Air Asia ASEAN Pass or plan to ? Tell me about your experience in the comments.