As you finish your Bachelor’s degree or MBA, it’s time to return home with the glory to find the dream job! But wait, your tuition and living cost already cost you a fortune, so how to fund yourself while going around Asian countries for interviews? The general truth is that a better degree gives you a better salary, but not until you have a job. Before that the status of a broke college graduate still exists. And traveling between countries that require plane travel is where Travel Hack will take us today.
One of the frustrating things about full-service airlines is that when you want to just travel one-way, it is incredibly expensive to do so. Luckily, with the advent of budget or LCCs (Low-Cost Carriers), they have given travelers more options. However, there are still routes that have not been completely disrupted. For example, Taipei to Hong Kong is one of the busiest routes in the world and the price of a round-trip ticket between Taiwan and Hong Kong has come down significantly. I still remember the days when a round trip ticket cost US$400-500 on Cathay Pacific. There are now far more options and with direct links between Taiwan and China, round trip tickets on full-service airlines hover around US$180-200. But, if you want to fly just one-way, instead of being half, it is actually more. On EVA air, my preferred carrier, the cost of a round trip ticket was about US$172 vs US$304 for one-way–baffling logic.
I checked Hong Kong Airlines, which is a subsidiary of Hainan Airlines. It sells one-way tickets, but it would still set me back US$130, better than EVA but I am still being penalized for flying one-way.
I decided to see if I could “hack” this route. I turned to HelloWings.com, which as far as I know, is the only price comparison search engine for budget airlines. Using HelloWings.com simplifies the research of figuring out which budget or LCC airline flies where, as well as being able to compare prices across a long travel period. Part of the logic behind budget airlines is that they specialize in a few high traffic routes and offer the most competitive prices.
It turns out that there are no budget airlines that fly the Taipei-Hong Kong route, but with a bit of out of the box thinking, I tried Taipei and Macau, which is about an hour away from Hong Kong by jet ferry. It turns out that Tiger Airways flies a direct Taipei to Macau flight. The price ranges from US$51 to US$300, but the lowest price that I could find was US$51.93. The cost of a jet ferry from Macau to Hong Kong is HKD 140 or around US$18. The total travel time is about 3 hours, but there is an added bonus that you’d get to arrive in Hong Kong Central, which saves the trouble of dragging luggage through the 300m of crowds between Airport Express and MTR.
Compare Airlines (Taipei to Macau vs. Taipei to Hong Kong)
TPE – Macau
Taipa temporary ferry terminal (3km from Macau airport)
Walking – FREE!
Taxi ~ USD$2.50
Weekdays – US$18
Weekend & Holidays -US$20
Night Service – US$22
Form Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal to Central
MTR Sheung Wan to Central:
HKD 4.5 ~ US$0.58
Total cost of trip to Hong Kong Central, including transportation into the city: US$74.81
TPE to HK
Hong Kong Airlines – US$136 one way
China Airlines – US$160 one way
EVA Air - US$171 one way
Airport Express to Central
Airport to Hong Kong station is US$13
Airport to Kowloon station is US$12
Bus to Central
Total cost of trip to Hong Kong Central, including transportation into the city: US$149.58
50% off for your trip to Hong Kong: Travel Hack of the day.