While at times some of my friends and family may think I live on the road simply wandering wherever looks appealing next, this has never been the case. My travel style has always involved me having a home base from which to work, save money and explore. Unless you have a trust fund, worked as an investment banker or spend years saving, using your location (or finding a new one) as a gateway to the world is a much more realistic option than quitting your job and traveling the world.
Now that I’m living in Los Angeles, I’m lucky to call one of the best gateway cities in the United States my home. This past December alone more than two million international flights departed from Los Angeles International Airport.
Angelinos love to complain about LAX, but my access to the airport truly couldn’t be easier. My new apartment is just ten minutes from the airport (in fact I hear airplanes overhead as I write this post from my living room). My office is located less exactly .7 miles (or a 15-minute walk) from terminal 1 and my cubicle sits in front of a bank of windows that look out over the runway.
Between my marketing duties in the travel industry and watching airplanes take off whenever I look up from my computer screen, it’s safe to say that I do a fair amount of day dreaming about all the places in the world I still want to visit.
Near the top of my list is Asia. It’s hard to believe that after trekking to 46 countries I’ve still never set foot on the Asian continent. From climbing the Great Wall of China to walking the vibrant streets of Hong Kong, there’s so many items on my bucket list that are located in Asia.
While San Francisco comes in a close second, Los Angeles is the best gateway city for flights to Asia. The multitude of daily flights to all over the continent is unrivaled. While the distance from California to Asia is quite far, numerous direct flights, lasting upwards of 14 hours, make flying to Asia from the United States as easy as it gets.
Since I spend so much time watching airplanes take off bound for China, Thailand, Malaysia and beyond, I’d thought I’d round up some tips for booking flights to Asia from Los Angeles and share them here.
Set Aside Your Flight Budget
Saving is a large part of travel. The biggest cost in travel is usually an airline ticket. As you plan for a trip, set aside budget for your airline ticket first so that when you finally find that perfect flight you can book immediately.
If you are concerned about travel costs you can always book a flight for a date in advance and save for the rest of your trip later. Round trip flights from LAX to cities in China like Beijing and Shanghai or elsewhere on the continent like Japan, Thailand and Malaysia, are quite affordable as far as international flights go. If you are flexible in your travel dates you can expect to pay as little as $500 for a round trip flight.
Know Your Airline Options
I have to admit, though I’ve traveled pretty frequently, when I first moved to LA and started to look out at the runway there were a lot of Airlines I’d never heard of. Here’s a list of the airlines that fly to Asia. Having this list in your back pocket is helpful when you search.
- Air Canada
- Air China
- American Airlines
- Asiana Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- China Airlines
- China Eastern
- China Southern
- EVA Air
- Hainan Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Phillippine Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Sichuan Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
- United Airlines
Search Multiple Websites
I don’t think there is one top resource for booking flights anywhere in the world. What I’ve found as I’ve booked travel is that to find the best rates you have to put time into searching multiple websites at different times of the day and days of the week. Finding deals on flights is not always as predictable as it seems it should be.
I do have my favorites, however. My top three resources for booking international flights are Kayak, SkyScanner and Priceline. Once I find a flight on a third party site I always go to the airlines official website to see if I can book the same flight for the same rate or cheaper.
Use China as a Gateway
The term Asia obviously covers a lot of territory – it’s a whole continent after all! If you’re looking to visit a few places in Asia, China is the best gateway for a few reasons. A recent study by kiwi.com found that it’s actually the cheapest country in the world to fly to per mile. Major cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong are international transit hubs so you can find lower cost flights into these cities and onwards to other countries in East Asia like South Korea and Japan.