When I hear the word “travel fair”, I usually think of crowded exhibition halls where travel agencies peddle toured packages. How useful could such a fair be for indie travellers like me?
In the name of research, I decided to pop by the NATAS Fair at expo last weekend. (NATAS is the National Association Travel Agents Singapore.) Held each quarter, the fairs are so popular that people (like me) don’t mind paying S$4 just to get in.
After you pay S$4, they tie a paper tag around your wrist which allows you to enter the halls again on the same day.
So, how useful was the fair? I had three things I needed help with:
1. Information for my March Yogyakarta trip
2. Explanation about a cruise
3. Find a tour agency to help with a round-the-world ticket
I decided that if all three simple problems were solved, then travel fairs can be useful for indie travellers.
[Note: Nov 13. 2012] This is the original “How to beat AirAsia’s b***s**t extra charges” before its Web site revamp in November. For those booking with the new interface, the new post lies under the old title.
Since the revamp, there has been changes to booking so all of the screencaps are not applicable. A lot of the angst in the original post are not applicable too.
START OF OLD POST
Other titles considered: “Tips for first time AirAsia bookers” or “How I saved S$80 by not clicking blindly when booking with AirAsia”.
First thing first, I am a frequent AirAsia passenger and I’m glad that “now everyone can fly” because of it. Thanks @tonyfernandes.
What I’m not glad is that AirAsia hides its extra fees sneakily. So sneaky that you wouldn’t really know how on earth that fee for extra baggage, seats or insurance (seriously?) came into your bill.
If you are an experienced AirAsia flight booker, you won’t need my tips. But if you are a first timer or just haven’t been on the site for some time, here are some ways you can beat the BS charges.
UPDATE [JANUARY 2015] KTM STAFF TOLD ME THAT THE NIGHT TRAINS ARE STILL RUNNING. HOWEVER, THEY REFUSED TO BELIEVE ME WHEN I TOLD THEM I CANNOT BUY THE TICKETS ON LINE. KTM CUSTOMER SERVICE IS HORRIBLE. TSK TSK.
THE SELECTION APPEARS ON THE WEBSITE BUT SEATS CANNOT BE CHOSEN. LET’S ASSUME IT’S CANCELLED, UNLESS SOMEONE CALLS KTM TO CONFIRM.
1. Leave from JB Sentral instead of Woodlands, Singapore
Actually, you can stop reading from here because this is the best tip I have. As noted in my previous post announcing my trip, you will save half the amount if you leave from Malaysia instead of Singapore.
Since the Singapore and Malaysia train stations are just a causeway away, it really makes more sense to travel to JB Sentral on public bus and board there. Plus, the KFC at JB Sentral is 24-hours, eat all the fried chicken you want!
If you really want to leave from Singapore (so you can skip the torturous bus ride across the causeway), I’d suggest you buy a cheap seat (about S$17) from Woodlands CIQ-JB Sentral. When the train reaches JB Sentral, you can hop off and go to your carriage. (The ticket checking for the JB passage starts when the train moves.)
2. But come back to Woodlands not JB
Am I confusing you? Yes, you leave from JB but come back to Woodlands. Why? The ticket from Malaysia to Singapore is in RM so it’ll still be cheap. You’ll also skip the horrible traffic jam on the causeway, especially if it’s commuting hours.
3. Choosing where to buy tickets
Back to ticket buying, I’ll assume that you are based in Singapore. Buy the ticket online instead of heading to JB Sentral’s ticketing counter. Plus, you’ll be charged in Singapore dollars if you buy directly at Woodlands.
My guide here will focus on buying online. KTMB’s Web site is a bit old school–it even has frames. But it gets it job done.
First check the timetable to figure out which train to catch. I picked the 23.55 train from JB because it arrives at 06.30 in KL. Saves me travelling time during the day. Then sign up for an account to book your tickets.
4. Selecting the tickets online
This part is slightly confusing because of KTMB’s naming convention:
JB Sentral=Johor Bahru train station
Sentral Kuala Lumpur=KL Sentral
Woodlands CIQ=Woodlands station
Pick the timing that you want to leave. Then you choose the type of sleeper/seat you want. I’d recommend the sleepers for overnighting to KL. There are 5 types of seats/sleeper.
ADMFB: Air-conditioned Day Night First-class Berth
ADNFD: Air-conditioned Day Night First-class Deluxe
ADNS: Air-conditioned Day Night Sleeper
AFC: Air-conditioned First Class
ASC: Air-conditioned Second Class
I’ve only been on ADNS’s upper bunk. It was quite a pleasant ride/sleep, minus the shaking and snoring man.
The page says you will need to key in passengers’ names and identificaiton number. They never checked mine against the ticket so if you are in a hurry, I think you can just put fake names/ID number.
5. Payment and proof
Pay using a regular credit/debit card to buy the tickets.
They will not send you a proof of confirmation, so remember to save the page. I usually save my Web pages in PDF form so it prints out nicer. I use PDF Creator which shows up as a virtual printer in my Print tool. (Don’t click the toolbar when installing).
Printing out the ticket is necessary. DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.
6. Things to bring on train
Waiting for the trip to arrive is the hardest step. Here’s something you need to know about the trip: There is no food and drink station onboard so bring your own munchies and liquids.
Attention! During my trip in October, I found out that KTMB stopped providing blankets. Please bring something warm for the ride, it gets really cold.
Safety pins to pin your sleeping curtain will be very helpful. I found myself peering into curtains on my way back from the loo. Not much privacy for whoever was in it.
The only bus that seems to be on duty around 23.00 is the SBS and SMRT buses. So there is not much choice in the bus leaving Singapore to JB. Oh, the train might break down, like it did on my trip. Just sit/sleep through it with a smile.
BONUS! JB Sentral map
Many have been asking me about how to get to JB’s train station. I’ve used Google Map to show you that it’s really really easy to reach JB Sentral (where the station is).
I love museums–one of my dreams is to visit every important museum in the world.
I love travelling–one of my dreams is to travel long term.
I was at the second last day of the Dreams and Reality exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore last Sunday. As I had been procrastinating, I almost missed the art exhibition which brought from famous paintings and photographs from Musee d’Orsay in Paris to our tropical shores.
During the visit of the gallery, I realized how being in a museum reflects different travelling style. Imagine the museum as a famous destination and you will see why.
During my 10-day trip to Japan last October, my mom and I spent 6 days in the Kansai region and visited Kyoto, Fushimi-Inari shrine, Uji, Nara and Osaka.
Since we wanted to see many sites in Kyoto as well as the Jidai Matsuri, we used Kyoto as a base and took day trips to the other Kansai cities. But if you are more of a city person, you’d probably like staying in Osaka better than Kyoto.
Our itinerary was like this:
Day 1: Arrive in Kyoto
Day 2: Kyoto – Fushimi Inari – Uji – Nara – Kyoto [Kansai Thru Pass]
Day 3: Kyoto
Day 4: Kyoto – Osaka – Kyoto [Kansai Thru Pass]
Day 5: Kyoto – Nara -Kyoto [JR]
Day 6: Kyoto (Jidai matsuri)
My mom and I are temple, old building lovers so three days in Kyoto was fine. (Although we did spend a large part of our last day napping in the public bus.)