As you know I’m always looking for cheaper ways to travel, and I love making travel more accessible to those who don’t have a lot of cash to spend on a holiday. I want to show everyone that you don’t need to spend thousands on a few weeks in South East Asia (unless you want to of course) – you can actually pay the same as a holiday in Greece if you’re savvy enough! Here are cheapest ways to fly from Europe to South East Asia..
Over the past year I have discovered how to book cheap flights between Europe and Asia. Previously, I would rely on SkyScanner to book my long haul flights, but I found that booking individual legs of the trip myself saved me a ton of money. I do love SkyScanner, but if you want the best price for long haul flights then you have to be a little crafty and do it yourself.
Tip #1: Book each leg separately
Cheapest flights Europe To Asia can’t be found by plugging two cities into SkyScanner. Search for and book each leg separately and save hundreds of pounds.
I recently booked a trip from Bali to London just 6 weeks before I was due to fly and paid a total of £220 for the flights. The cheapest price that Sky Scanner gave me for this trip was over £400 for less convenient flight times and dreadfully timed stopovers, so I saved £180 on a more convenient trip by booking each leg individually.
Instead of relying on SkyScanner to find the best flight combinations for you, find and book both legs of your trip yourself. My trick is to find the cheapest fare you can to a hub airport and then book a separate, cheap flight to your intended destination. I’m going to show you how to do this for flights to Asia but this trick works anywhere around the world.
The cheapest flights aren’t always the most convenient so you may have layovers in the hub city, but at least you get to pick and choose how long you want them to be and what time of day. You can decide if you want to overnight in a new city to save money on your onward flight, or to spend an afternoon doing a free transit tour before taking a cheaper evening flight. Booking flights yourself gives you the freedom to choose how to spend your layover time and if you’re smart about it, long stopovers won’t mean hours of sitting around a departures lounge (more on this below).
Tip #2: Fly via a Hub
A hub airport is one that is commonly used as a connecting point for flights around the region. Long haul flights from Europe to SE Asia will usually stop at one of these hubs, then continue on a second flight to your destination. Most flight comparison websites like Kayak and Skyscanner will try to find the most convenient second flight for you, not the cheapest. They often prioritise things like short stopovers, flying with the same airline and other factors over price. By booking your own second flight you can save a lot of money.
Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are the main hub airports if you’re flying east to Asia. You can find budget-friendly direct flights into these airports and use them as a gateway to fly cheaply around the neighboring countries. It is SO cheap to fly around Asia, it’s just getting there cheaply that’s the challenge!
Eva Air and Thai Airways have direct flights into Bangkok starting at £219, and Malaysian Airlines and Air Asia X do direct fares from London to Kuala Lumpur starting at £230. Often I’ve found that British Airways have awesome deals on direct Bangkok flights too, so keep an eye on their website to snap some of them up.
From Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore you can fly direct to most international airports in South East Asia for as little as £20 one-way. Air Asia, VietJet, Lion Air, Malindo Airlines and JetStar are budget airlines that offer the cheapest fares and best routes. When booking your onward flight sometimes it can be cheaper to have a layover of a few hours or even a day, don’t count out these flights and keep reading to see why stopovers can be awesome.
Tip #3: Choose your days carefully
The cheapest flights will usually be from Tuesday – Thursday (although there are always exceptions) and the prices of a flight can vary wildly depending on which day you fly. When I search for a long haul flight to Asia I follow these steps to find the cheapest day to fly:
Open 3 tabs and create individual SkyScanner searches from London (or your nearest European hub airport, it could be Paris or Amsterdam) to KL, Singapore and Bangkok.
Do a flight search for each day of the week that I want to travel to find out which is the cheapest day to fly.
After I have found the cheapest day for my outward flight, I do the same searches for my inbound flight and find the cheapest day to come home.
Lastly I search return flights, changing the dates to find the cheapest combination and checking if it’s cheaper to book a return flight or book my outbound and inbound flight separately. Sometimes you can snap up super cheap flights by flying in and out with different airlines.
No matter what price comparison site you use, or even if you’re booking directly on an airline’s website always use the fare calendar to see if there are any super cheap flights you can snap up. The prices on fare calendars are usually cached and prices can be out of date, so always click through the date you are interested in and check live prices.
Tip #4: Make the most of your stopover
Finding the cheapest long haul flights can result in long layovers between flights. Long stopovers are avoided by most people but a good traveller knows that there is huge opportunity to be had in a stopover. Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok airports have some fantastic facilities for travellers to make the most of a layover, for very little money (or even for absolutely nothing!).
Chiangi Airport, Singapore
If your stopover is more than 5 hours you can take a free 2.5 hour tour around the city. You can choose between a City Tour that takes in the Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the bay, or a Heritage Tour that brings you the colourful Little India and Chinatown. Check out all of the information here, including which terminals offer the service and the different trip details and timings.
There are multiple airline lounges in Chiangi airport which you can book cheap passes for on Lounge Pass. These plush lounges offer free food, drinks and wifi, plus comfortable seats and sometimes massages. There are airports in the hotel which offer stays from as little as three hours, or if you don’t want to sleep then non-guests can use their spa and pool facilities. Check out Sleeping In Airports for all of the services and their opening hours, broken down by terminal.
KLIA, Kuala Lumpur
If your stopover is longer than 5 hours you can join a Kuala Lumpur Transit Tour for 130MYR / £24 / €28 per person. Your ticket includes a return trip on the airport express train into the city and a full days pass on the hop on – hop off KL bus tour. You can read about the different itineraries here.
Capsule by Container is a capsule hotel within KLIA2 that provides sleeping pods which you can book for as little as 4 hours to have a nap between your flights. We’ve stayed in these and they are really comfortable. You can book single or double beds which are clean and comfortable, and there are charging outlets and WiFi in the pods. There’s a library you can work or realx in, and you can have a hot shower (towels and toiletries are provided).
Unlike the other two airports BKK airport does not offer a transit tour. Thai Airways sometimes includes tours for customers, but these are seasonal so I would check this out before you go. Some companies do transit tours but at £150 per person these are a lot more expensive than a DIY trip outside the airport. There is luggage storage in the departures lounge, so if you do decide to go and sightsee you can leave your bags for a small fee. Check out some itinerary ideas for your layover here and here.
There are transit hotels in the airport where stays start at 4 hours, plus many luxurious lounges where you can avail of free food, drink, wifi, entertainment and cosy chairs for as little as £20 on Lounge Pass. For a full list of facilities, opening hours and terminal info click here.
Tip #5: Fly with Norwegian Air
**UPDATE December 2018**
Norwegian air will unfortunately be cancelling their London – Singapore route from January 2019. There are still cheap flights available so I’ll leave this information up until the route is discontinued. Note that you won’t be able to book these flights past Jan 10th.
Check out Aeroflot as a possible alternative for low-cost long-haul flights.
Norwegian Air is my favourite budget find of 2018 and I have saved hundreds by booking with them already this year. This low-cost no-frills airline are the Ryanair of long-haul flights (except flying with them is a much less infuriating experience!!). Baggage, meals, drinks, blankets and other frills are stripped from your economy ticket and added as extras. This means that direct flights between London and Singapore start at £159 each way. HOW CHEAP IS THAT?! I honestly couldn’t believe it the first time I booked our flight, and I was impressed at the level of service we received on the flight.
Baggage costs £25 for 20kg and meals are around £25. I usually like to bring my own packed lunch on flights because airplane food can be pretty unhealthy, so that suits me just fine! Pick up some healthy meals and snacks in the airport or prepare your own at home and you’re set for your 12 hour flight. They sell alcohol on the flight which you can order via the in flight entertainment, and the movie choices have been pretty good each time we have flown.
Flights from Singapore to neighbouring countries can be incredibly cheap and with Chiangi being such a popular airport you’ll have plenty of options. I would definitely recommend either doing an overnight or a transit tour to explore the city because it is such a stunning and fascinating place. Check out my travel guide to Singapore for some free and really cheap things to do there.
Two tips for flying with Norwegian;
You will be offered the option to bid for an upgrade at some point before you fly. We have managed to get business class seats with free baggage, meals, drinks and huge, spacious seats for just £300. If you are thinking of availing of this then don’t add your baggage when you book the flight as it will be included for free when you upgrade (just don’t forget to add it later if you don’t get upgraded as adding at the airport will cost a lot more). Read more about the bidding for upgrade process on my post here.
There you have it! My tips for finding super cheap trips to Asia. If you decide to go ahead and book a cheap flight then be sure to let me know, and recommend this post to anyone who is thinking of making a trip this summer.
Thanks for reading!