With winter about to end, and the summer holidays not too far off, it’s time to think about planning your holidays. Of course, in these recessionary times, the one thing on everyone minds (except those lucky few) is the budget. While everyone wants a dream holiday-whether it involves relaxing, long walks on beach, paragliding or luxurious stays in cosmopolitan cities-most people look for good deals. It doesn’t take long for a dream holiday to turn into maxed-out credit cards. The good news is that using the web, you can find the best deals on everything. Correction: almost everything, except (sadly) airline tickets. Your checklist for information is available online before you go on perfect vacation. You can enjoy your trip by going to a great place like Vietnam. Surely, Vietnam discovery will be a great fun and you’ll enjoy a lot, but its up to you; choose a location which is best suitable for you!
Unfortunately, whole people living in North America and Europe have access to great last minute deals via the web (using websites such as Expedia. Com and Lowfare.com), I figured that buying a ticket through the internet in Pakistan does not guarantee you great deals. The conventional way of turning to your trusty travel agent – or directly to the airlines when they are offering Web promotions, something that is sadly few and far between – is your best bet.
Thankfully, when it comes to choosing a hotel, you’ll find that booking a hotel online is the way to go. Two of the best websites that get you great online deals on hotels are booking (www.booking.com) and Agoda (www.agoda.com). Both websites let you search for the hotel of your choice, based on which part of the city you want to stay in, the hotels’ star ratings, as well as facilities such as outdoor/indoor swimming pools, free Wi-Fi, gyms etc.
Both websites also provide details of rooms, for example, whether or not you will have a plasma TV and DVD player, an espresso machine, or bathrobes in your room (complimentary). Also included is information about whether or not breakfast is included in the price. This is one particular detail that is worth looking into, especially if you plan to stay at the hotel for longer period of time.
Of course, the one thing you should not overlook when researching the hotel are the user reviews, especially recent ones, because they usually provide details that the [rest of the] websites don’t. for example, they will tell you whether or not the staff was friendly, if the location was ideal or not, and why and if the rooms were kept clean properly. These seemingly small details can end making all the difference between an average and a great holiday.
An advantage that booking.com has over Agoda.com is that it provides users with the advantage of filtering results according to the ‘hotel theme’ – be it Romance/Honeymoon, spa, family, budget, luxury, design, or Gourmet. This allows you to have exactly the type of hotel you’d like to stay in, depending on the type of trip you’re making. Secondly, unlike Agoda.com, Booking also allows you to search hotels according to price range. Surprisingly, the advantage of Agoda.com is that it offers rates that are sometimes substantially lower than those available on Booking.com.
And the rest
Not only are last minute hotel deals a reality on the web, the information available online, via websites such as trusty lonely planet and Wikitravel, provides you with a treasure trove of things you need to know before you embark on a journey to the ‘unknown’.
These websites tell you which are the best time to go a place, not only in terms of the weather, but also in terms of when hotel prices are at their lowest. Of course, usually the cheaper non-peak seasons are during the unfavorable weather season, but you can count on global warming to keep things unpredictable all year round. Let’s take Thailand for instance – one of the few countries that still provide Pakistanis visas without many shenanigans. January is supposed to be the peak season; and most websites will tell you that Thailand is at its best in the early part of the year. But that wasn’t be the case this year. In January, Bangkok saw a lot of rain, as did the island Koh Samui, one of the most travelled-to islands in Thailand. Trust me, I was there. So not only did I have to bear cloudy and/or rainy days, because I travelled in “peak season”, I also ended up paying extra for the ticket and hotels.
While lonely planet is easily the more comprehensive guide between the two, with detailed information about to what to do, where to go, which landmarks to see, and which restaurant and shopping spots to go to, the information there can be exhausting to sift through. There is simply too much of it, as well as an equally broad range of photographs and maps. In contrast, the information available on Wikitravel seems sparse (although this is certainly not the case). In fact, wiki travel is easy to navigate, hence easy to access and less distracting-without the frills that Lonely Planet offers. So if you are going to a new city for the first time and don’t waste too much time and don’t want to waste too much time on the web, the best way to find about it is by going through Wikitravel’s entries thoroughly, zero-in on the places you want to visit, and get their details from Lonely Planet.
However, if you haven’t yet decided where you are going, and what to compare a couple of cities of countries, Lonely Planet is your best bet. It will provide you with its best picks in terms of cities within the region-or ever a country-based on what you are interested in. the review on Lonely Planet are also useful, as are the travel forums where ‘’holidayers’’ exchange notes about different destinations.