Looking to transform those winter blues into the island blues courtesy of a beautiful, exotic getaway? Turns out heading to an idyllic island is actually cheaper than you think — if you can afford to physically get there.
TripAdvisor recently released a list of the most affordable Asian island destinations (the runner-ups below), and the winner — the Indonesian island Gili Trawangan, really does seem too good to be true. For just $283.42 per couple, you can get a one-night accommodation in a four-star hotel, a two-course dinner including coconut water and beer, massages, and kayak and bicycle rentals if lounging around on the beach isn’t your jam.
It’s a bargain deal, if you can afford the $3000-plus airfare per couple (and the accompanying 20-plus hour flight).
But once you’re there, Gili Trawangan truly is a beautiful place, especially if you want to invoke your inner partier. The island (one of three in the area) is only accessibly by boat, which means you have to first fly into either Bali or Lombok. Once you’re there though, prepare to experience a long Cancun-inspired strip that’s full of restaurants, bars, massage parlours and happy hours. No cars are allowed on the island, and since it’s a hop, skip and a jump away for the young Australian crowd there’s always a friend or two around.
There is also plenty of space for relaxation thanks to the public and private beaches, private pool lounges that you can access for just a couple of bucks a day, plus some of the most amazing snorkeling and diving spots you’ve ever seen. Just beware the tiny baby jellyfish. You can also rent a bike and go around the entire island in just a couple of hours, or take a boat to neighbouring Gili Meno or Gili Air. Once there, you can find that dude from the Molson Canadian beer commercials or even release baby sea turtles into the water.
So how do you actually get to Gili Trawangan (or any of the other beautiful Asian islands in the gallery below) for the cheapest possible price? It’s all about getting the best flight. Some tips:
Go during low season
In the Gili Islands, that means February, March, October and November. Since the plane seats and hotels don’t fill up as quickly, the prices will be a little bit lower.
Do your research
So you think you found a good deal on a flight? Bookmark it, but keep looking. Group agents are a great source to get you going and give you an idea of pricing, but be sure to take it one step further. Crosscheck those numbers with offers on the official airline websites to see which one is cheaper. And don’t be afraid to look into unfamiliar, Asian airlines as opposed to recognizable North American brands. They all fly in and out of the same places.
Do you really have to leave on a Friday or Saturday? What about a Wednesday or Thursday night? The flights are long enough that you’ll (hopefully) be sleeping for a good portion of them anyhow, so why not go the old red eye route?
This one is obvious, but every little bit that takes away from your total fare helps get you to the island faster, right?
Subscribe to travel newsletters
Sometimes you don’t have to go looking for the best deals: they come straight to you — in your inbox. Flights go on sale all of the time, and are often available to subscribers before the general public even hears of them.
Don’t wait until the last minute
That might, might work for an all-inclusive getaway (although we wouldn’t gamble it), but last minute flights can actually be way more expensive. Set yourself a cutoff date a couple of months in advance, and if you go with an agent, try to bargain yourself a price-drop guarantee.
15 more of the cheapest Asian islands to visit now:
You can visit this island paradise for just $283.42*
Bali (Indonesia)Hotel: $210.67
Meal with coconuts: $32.19
Bicycle rental: $5.29
Kayak rental: $11.65
Koh Samui (Thailand)Hotel: $196.75
Meal with coconuts: $30.41
Bicycle rental: $11.80
Kayak rental: $23.59
Total: $348.28 Flickr/Sarah_Ackerman
Lombok (Indonesia)Hotel: $192.08
Meal with coconuts: $35.30
Bicycle rental: $10.94
Kayak rental: $10.59
Total: $350.78 Flickr/Fadil Basymeleh
Cebu (Philippines)Hotel: $178.37
Meal with coconuts: $25.26
Bicycle rental: $42.77
Kayak rental: $23.78
Total: $395.39 Flickr/canencia
Phuket (Thailand)Hotel: $227.67
Meal with coconuts: $28.58
Bicycle rental: $11.80
Kayak rental: $15.73
Total: $406.73 Flickr/Kim Seng
Phu Quoc (Vietnam)Hotel: $306.41
Meal with coconuts: $31.14
Bicycle rental: $5.98
Kayak rental: $25.32
Total: $426.89 Flickr/Kyle Taylor
Boracay (Philippines)Hotel: $218.60
Meal with coconuts: $42.08
Bicycle rental: $48.47
Kayak rental: $20.93
Total: $427.64 Flickr/paprikaOptic
Penang (Malaysia)Hotel: $154.48
Meal with coconuts: $67.95
Bicycle rental: $43.35
Kayak rental: $20.95
Total: $462.19 Flickr/Elviz Low
Koh Phi Phi Don (Thailand)Hotel: $355.00
Meal with coconuts: $24.59
Bicycle rental: $9.44
Kayak rental: $19.66
Total: $509.98 Flickr/TimOve
Pulau Redang (Malaysia)Hotel: $194.53
Meal with coconuts: $63.40
Bicycle rental: $39.05
Kayak rental: $44.00
Total: $557.32 Flickr/Nicolas Lannuzel
Pulau Tioman (Malaysia)Hotel: $264.71
Meal with coconuts: $56.23
Bicycle rental: $54.67
Kayak rental: $38.27
Total: $587.28 Flickr/Sander Solvak
Langkawi (Malaysia)Hotel: $276.15
Meal with coconuts: $71.40
Bicycle rental: $54.67
Kayak rental: $27.34
Total: $619.74 Flickr/Ahmad Hakym
Palawan (Philippines)Hotel: $533.90
Meal with coconuts: $23.55
Bicycle rental: $26.63
Kayak rental: $17.11
Total: $651.53 Flickr/Andy Enero
Bintan (Indonesia)Hotel: $305.95
Meal with coconuts: $92.94
Bicycle rental: $79.42
Kayak rental: $39.39
Total: $694.70 Flickr/Marcus Linder
Sentosa (Singapore)Flickr/William Cho