Koh Phangan has been named the most affordable island for travellers in Southeast Asia while Singapore's Sentosa Island is the most expensive, according to TripAdvisor's first TripIndex Island Sun 2013.
The study is based on the combined costs for two people of a one-night stay at a four-star hotel, a two-course meal with coconut juice and beers plus massage as well as rental of bicycles and snorkelling equipment from Sept 16-Oct 3 in 20 key island holiday destinations in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Seven islands in Thailand are among the top 20 list.
Leading the poll is Koh Phangan with a total TripIndex cost of 7,322.50 baht followed by Koh Tao (7,766.89 baht), Gili Trawangan in Indonesia (8,107.71 baht), Koh Chang (8,737.41 baht) and Cebu in the Philippines (9,075.20 baht).
Koh Lanta is at eighth position (9,961.75 baht) while Koh Samui is ninth (10,082.54 baht). Koh Phi Phi Don is at 13th place (11,917.48 baht), followed by Phuket which was also named the most expensive island holiday in Thailand with an average cost at 11,946.67 baht.
The most expensive island in Southeast Asia is Sentosa with a TripIndex cost of 26,815.17 baht _ about 3.5 times higher than the cheapest island. The second highest cost is Langkawi in Malaysia (17,447.09 baht) and Palawan in the Philippines (15,338.40 baht).
"In light of the upcoming year-end holiday season, TripIndex Island Sun helps travellers identify where their money goes the furthest," said TripAdvisor spokesperson Jean Ow-Yeong.
The least expensive average hotel room is priced 3,947.39 baht in Penang of Malaysia, while the most expensive, at nearly three times the cost, is Palawan in the Philippines at 10,649.43 baht per night. While the cost of a hotel stay is the most expensive of the TripIndex basket items, the biggest disparity in costs between the least and most expensive destinations is the rental of bicycles and snorkelling equipment, she said.
At a cost of 3,657.69 baht for the rental of bicycles, Singapore is 18 times more expensive than Koh Phangan and Koh Phi Phi Don (200 baht). Snorkel equipment is not available in Singapore, but the rental of two kayaks costs 4,108.64 baht and is 34 times the cost of the most affordable snorkel equipment rental in Koh Phi Phi Don (120 baht).
Thailand is the best destination for most-value-for-money beach island holidays, said Ms Ow-Yeong.
Meanwhile, TripAdvisor recently launched its free app for iPhone and Android users.
The app features hotel price comparison, dynamic maps with locations of accommodation, attractions or restaurants in real-time and travel planning features, plus the best things to do section.
The free app is available in 20 languages and can be download from the iTunes App Store or Google Play.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Marriott International have launched a partnership to protect the environment and support local communities in Thailand through mangrove restoration, the use of sustainable seafood sources and local procurement practices.
The partnership will cover Bang Krachao in Samut Prakan and areas in the south including Mai Khao in Phuket, Thai Muang and Khao Lak in Phangnga.
The first step after the MoU singing is to open a "Mangrove Education Garden" at the Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel, followed by a planting of 100 mangroves by Marriott associates at Bang Krachao, said Marriott International COO in Asia Pacific Don Cleary.
Marriott will also raise funds and awareness among its guests for the activities of the IUCN Thailand Programme to support local communities in mangrove restoration. The plan is to plant 500,000 mangrove saplings and relevant species within the next three years, he said.
- Air China will launch a direct flight between Beijing and Chiang Mai on Nov 7.
According to the airline, the non-stop service will shorten travel time instead of having to take a connecting flight from Beijing to Bangkok and to Chiang Mai. In addition, the new route will benefit long-haul passengers who fly from Europe, Australia and America to connect to Chiang Mai bypassing Bangkok.
The Beijing-Chiang Mai flights will be operated three times a week with a B737-800. The outbound flight will depart from Beijing at 6.30pm and arrive in Chiang Mai at 10.40pm. The return flight will leave Chiang Mai at 11.45pm and land in Beijing at 5am.
For more details, visit www.airchina.com.
- AirAsia has introduced a "Hi-Flyer" flexible fare service targeted on business travellers.
The new type of air ticket offers each traveller up to two flight changes without a service charge (but the passenger still needs to pay for the fare difference), priority boarding, complimentary seat selection, 20kg check-in baggage allocation and points earning.
"Hi-Flyer is specifically tailored to the business traveller group, who are constantly on the go and offers benefits such as flexibility to change flights up to two hours before departure time,"said Thai AirAsia CEO Tassapon Bijleveld, adding that business travellers made up a significant portion of its guests' profile and the offering would further add value to their travel experience with AirAsia.
Visit www.airasia.com for more details.
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