PHUKET, Thailand – The annual Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday is now about much more than just staying with friends and family these days.
Chinese, especially young affluent ones, are looking to travel overseas rather than just return home for the holidays. Another important travel demographic, the event culture vulture, is also keen to combine this auspicious holiday with an exotic overseas sojourn.
According to HotelTravel.com Chief Information Officer, Olivier Dombey, more Chinese travelers are waiting till the last minute to bargain hunt while booking CNY hotels on mobile platforms.
“There has been a seismic shift in travel behavior since I left Beijing in 2008. Once travel restrictions were lifted, Chinese started to look at the CNY period as a prime opportunity to travel outside the country.
“We are seeing more last-minute hotel bookings by Chinese travelers on mobile platforms. And there is also considerable interest from other nationalities to travel to key destinations to experience and take part in CNY festivities.
“There are still available rooms and good hotel deals in popular destinations, but selecting the right city to spend CNY is key to finding online deals. HotelTravel.com has a few simple suggestions that we think will help travelers get the best value for hotel stays.”
Look beyond Hong Kong and Macau
Both former colonial enclaves are traditionally fully booked during CNY. More importantly, hoteliers are only too aware that they can leverage peak demand period as an excuse to jack room rates sky high. Since it is a three-day public holiday (starting Monday, January 23), a large part of both cities close up shop for the week leaving available restaurants, shops, and malls packed to the gills.
Book in Bangkok
Almost everyone knows that Bangkok hotels offer some of the best value for money deals on the planet. But did you know that the Thai capital has almost as many rooms as there are in all of India? Bangkok’s Chinatown is also fun, safe, and vibrant during CNY. Plus it is not an official government holiday so for the rest of the city its business as usual.
Stay in Singapore
Staying in Singapore is not cheap any time of year, but CNY deals can still be found during this peak season, especially if visitors stay away from prime Orchard Road, Marina, and Scott’s Road hotels. Singapore remains the safest, most family-friendly destination in Asia. Both January 23 and 24 are public holidays, but Singapore’s ethnically-mixed population means much of the city state is open per usual.
Play in Phuket
Hotels in Phuket, like in Bangkok, are overbuilt, so there are many last-minute deals available even during the high season. Obviously, the key to availability and affordable rates is to move away from the beach (and larger international chains) to find smaller independently-run lodging. That also means avoiding Patong and looking around Phuket International Airport in the north or Rawai Beach in the south. For safety’s sake, it is best to avoid renting motorbikes for any reason – instead spend a little more and hire a car.
Bay Watch in San Francisco
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the closest thing to the real deal this side of Shanghai, and it comes alive during CNY. Avoid pricey downtown San Francisco hotels and look south of Market if you want to remain closer to Chinatown, however, you need to know the city, as this trendy enclave borders a couple of tough areas. Safer options include out near Golden Gate Park in either the Richmond or Sunset districts – both are served by excellent public transportation links.