We’re always on the lookout for the least expensive way to visit the places we want to see. We get daily emails with airfare alerts, limited-time package deals, hotel bargains, and more. We have a list of websites we regularly scour for the same. When an airline posts a super low ticket price by accident (known as an error fare), we jump with joy and scoop it up before they fix their mistake.
When you’re traveling on the cheap, you learn to manage your expectations accordingly. Your international round-trip flight might only cost you $300, but it might leave at 4 a.m., and you’re also likely seated in the back of the plane near the galley and bathrooms. Your cross-country rail ticket might only be $20, but it might take you three train transfers with layovers between each leg to get to your destination rather than a nonstop, direct route with a reserved seat.
And then sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised.
For a recent girls’ trip to Thailand with my friend Samantha, we booked a travel package through Gate 1 Travel for round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Bangkok and a week’s hotel stay including daily breakfast for $699 per person. That would have been a terrific price for the airfare alone, so we weren’t expecting much in the way of hotel accommodations.
I was already in a daze from 36 straight hours of travel, so I thought I was dreaming when I walked into the lobby of the Century Park Hotel in downtown Bangkok. It was as nice as any hotel I’d stayed in anywhere in the world, especially when it came to the rooftop pool.
Our “superior twin” room was luxuriously large, quiet, and clean, and it had extras like Wi-Fi, a mini bar, and a separate tub and shower in the spacious bathroom. It also had a sunrise view of downtown Bangkok.
In addition to the pool and the views, the hotel had two restaurants, a tea salon, two cocktail lounges, a fitness center, and a lobby boutique.
One of the best features, however, was the fleet of hotel drivers who could be hired at very reasonable rates for excursions in and around Bangkok. Mr. Dan not only drove us but also helped with translation and gave good tips for making the most of the temples and other spots we visited.
The Century Park Hotel breakfast buffet was lavish enough to count for two of our meals each day. It featured European-style dishes such as eggs, bacon, pastries, and fruit as well as Asian dishes including sushi, miso soup, noodles, and pickled vegetables.
This hotel stay was certainly lovelier that what we’ve come to expect with some of our cheap travel deals, and it was a wonderful bonus for our adventure.
Look at the details when you’re considering travel packages and see if you can score some terrific deals for yourself. And while you’re counting the days until your next getaway, you can watch this video Samantha took and pretend you’re poolside in Bangkok!