Chiang Rai: New short hop spot

SINGAPORE, 31 January 2019: Singaporeans love their short breaks to explore Asian destinations with Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Hong Kong the top attractions, according to Expedia’s annual year in review report.

Travelling on average for just 2.3 nights per trip, destinations with convenient direct flights are the winners and as of today Singaporeans gain a new short-break destination, Chiang Rai.

Today, Thai AirAsia launches three-weekly services between Singapore and Chiang Rai in far north Thailand offering Singaporeans a three-hour flight to a province famed for its natural beauty, soft adventure activities and its hilltribe heritage.

The new service immediately cuts travel time from Singapore to Chiang Rai and the roundtrip fares in half.

The low-cost airline is also launching direct flights from Chiang Rai to Kuala Lumpur, Macau and Phuket in south Thailand, and with Singaporeans taking an average 4.6 airline trips a year, they can add Chiang Rai to their must-visit list off short break destinations.

But competition will be tough and Chiang Rai will need to raise its game to compete with the region’s popular short break destinations that have traditionally captured the imagination of Singaporeans.

In addition to the three top favourite destinations – Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Hong Kong – other destinations are dominating the top-10 list of popular spots for a short break.

Expedia’s latest report on trends shows Singaporeans are also heading for Bali (4th), Taipei (5th), Tokyo (6th), Penang (7th), Seoul (8th), Manila (9th) and Phuket (10th).

Predictably the top month for travel is December, while bookings during the New Year and for the remainder of January slide south.  

Expedia’s review of the Singapore outbound market suggested travellers stayed closer to home in 2018 venturing to Asian destinations. Food and shopping were the key buzz words that sent Singaporeans scurrying off to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

Expedia’s data on flight demand, monitored January to 20 November 2018, showed second tier cities, such as Quanzhou in China, Angeles City in Philippines and Kuantan, Malaysia, enjoyed more than double the growth in travel demand.

Hat Yai, in South Thailand was identified as a destination that has seen a dramatic increase in travel from Singapore at around 200%, Mandalay in Myanmar 182% and Phu Quoc Island in southern Vietnam 135%.

Thai AirAsia’s new direct flight from Singapore to Chiang Rai will exploit the inclination to book last-minute by providing a quick and affordable escape from their urban environment.

But there was very little advance warning for travel agents who have a track record promoting Thailand trips. They complained they were left out of the airline information loop.  However, AirAsia Group has a massive following of “Big Loyalty” members that it can tap by offering attractive travel deals focusing on the new service that will boost travel over the next few months.

Expedia’s report suggests Singaporeans are keen to experiment with different accommodation options.

They are likely to be interested in “Tentalows” (a cross between a tent and a bungalow, usually outfitted with plumbing and other modern-day comforts), agri-tourism properties (farms, homestay) castles and chalets all saw increased demand this year. But when it comes to preferred property types, hotels continue to be a top choice amongst Singaporean travellers, followed by chalets and vacation rentals.”

(Source: Expedia)