Ever booked any hotel accommodation online only to find out that the actual room doesn’t look at all like the images advertised on the website?

Welcome to the 21st century, where everything on travel can be found online and at affordable prices. But beware, the Internet is a knowledge portal with no moderator and boundaries. Hotels will publish their nicest pictures and disgruntled patrons will write the meanest reviews. How can you tell if the information is dependable? All it takes is some research while sitting down in front of your PC and a visit to the local bookshop.

Where Do I Want to Go?

Stay home and surf the net. There are numerous travel sites you can surf to get ideas on where to go. Further information can also be obtained from the country’s tourism authority site. If you still need more opinions, visit travel blogs just by searching through Google or Technorati.

Spend an entire afternoon in ‘Borders’ book shop. Sit down at the travel section and read your way through some of the destination guides to better understand what the different destinations have to offer

Lastly, talk to friends about places they’ve gone. Try and get detailed answers, most of the time they can’t stop talking about their travels.

Diving at Redang 2006

When Do I Fly?

Now that you’ve got your eyes set on where you’re planning to go, it’s time to choose when to fly!. Be it peak or off-peak, I’m always more interested in a good bargain. I’ve tried shopping for a whole day in Chatuchak market during the hottest month in Bangkok (May) as well as walking through the streets of Old Quarters in Hanoi during its dry season (June) and still survived!

Conquering Mount Kinabalu 2007

Where Do I Stay?

This is the trickiest part. I’ve had my fair share of hiccups when I booked hotels by myself because what you see or read online would not always be ‘what you get’. Usually I’d do weeks of research on travel sites including goholiday.airasia.com as well as the respective hotel’s website and travellers’ blogs. Customer reviews are equally important to read, but of course I’d take into consideration if the reviewer was travelling with a family, backpacking or was on a honeymoon.

There are many travel sites which offer good hotel rates but in order to know if it’s a good offer, best to check a few sites as well as the respective hotel’s website. Never, never, forget to check the terms before you confirm your booking as some hotels require immediate payment in order to secure the room at a cheaper rate.

Jumping off the Junk and enjoying the sunset at Halong Bay 2008

What Do I Do When I Get There?

You should do some research and list down the activities that you might be interested to engage in while on holiday. Planning your activities only when you arrive at the destination has its risk in terms of pricing. For me I’ll still take that risk as what is offered will at most times be cheaper than something arranged via an agent or online.

Happy Holidays!

I’m not a frequent enough traveller to say that what I’ve suggested above would 100% work but do take some risks, it’ll just make the travel experience that much more valuable. I’ve attached some of the memorable photos of my travel around the region and hope you guys will enjoy it!


  • Hemala

    I do most of my travel research online…but you’re right talking to friends who have been to the same place does help!

  • Princess

    Soon Yean.. where is your next diving destination? Don’t forget to show us some marine life pictures okay?

  • Soon Yean

    Hi Shelby, just came back from Tioman. It’s almost end of season and the water visibility was not as clear. But then was still a good dive.