This issue of
Citylife

Surfin’ Lessons

It’s nearly the tourist season, if you’re planning to go away this Christmas now is the time to book online. Likewise those with tourist businesses should spruce up their websites, update prices and think of advertising on the internet this month. Room bookings is the biggest activity on the web, and though there are dozens of hotel sites out there, tripadvisor.com has emerged as one of the most useful, because it includes handy reviews from others and directs you to multiple booking engines each offering the best deals on your chosen resort. Two Thailand based sites worth trying are hoteltravel.com and directrooms.com, both are user friendly, have a large selection and competitive prices. Hotelscombined.com is a comparator site for those looking for special deals. Hotels sites also tend to dominate the search rankings for general tourist info, and though some of them are content rich, you need to trawl the results for decent tourist info. One well presented Thailand site is my own site, 1stopthailand.com _ a comprehensive, colourful and easy to navigate resource, with booking services.
Of course if you’ve got visitors coming to Chiang Mai, direct them to the substantial tourist info on Citylife’s chiangmainews.com. For the rest of Southeast Asia traveldojo.com is an excellent, info rich professional site covering the region. A bit rougher is travelfish.org which has handy travellers’ reviews, while a good luxury tours recommendation is exotissimo.com. Unfortunately, there is no universally useful flights site since fares vary wildly depending which way you travel. A Google search returns price comparators and I often then find a better deal on the actual airline’s website. Google results tend to be dominated by sites such as lastminute.com, for instance, which are only useful if you’re travelling out from the UK. From Thailand, the good old travel agent, like BTS in Chiang Mai, is still your best bet, and the same applies to travel insurance. Budget flights are best booked directly with the airlines’ website, however Asian airlines are notoriously bad at successfully processing foreign credit cards. Remember, always book well in advance for the best deals.

Andrew Bond is the Manager of www.virtualtravelguides.com