Korea Decides To Join The Rest of Asia

The Chosun Ilbo: Budget Carriers to Challenge Larger Rivals on Int’l Routes

Jeju Air, Korea’s biggest budget airline, said on Wednesday it plans to start flying between Incheon and Hong Kong…while Malaysia’s AirAsia, the region’s largest low-cost carrier, will start operations connecting Incheon with Kuala Lumpur next month. By the end of the year, larger airlines and budget carriers are expected to be competing on 10 international routes.

My friend Ryan says I’m a little late to the party with this news, but I don’t care!

After checking out AirAsia.com, I ran the numbers and it turns out it will cost about 400,000 KRW ($354 USD) to fly from Incheon to Kuala Lumpur. From there, its about 160 MYR ($50 USD) to fly Singapore. Less than $400 USD to make it back to the land of laksa, Merlions and good friends!

Have some serious thoughts about that now.  The article also mentions a lot of destinations in the Philippines that Korean budget airlines will fly to. However, as I’m told by people who’ve traveled to the region, the Philippines is rife with Korean tourists. It’s good to see Koreans travel off the peninsula (U.S. State Department estimates only 10 percent of Koreans have traveled out of the country), but they really need to go to other places. These new travel routes may open up a new culture of travel amongst Koreans.

When I was studying in Singapore, I could fly from Singapore to Jakarta for only S$20! It was so absurdly cheap. I also flew to Vietnam for $90, and Cambodia for $150. While Singapore is an exception to the travel game given its locale, I always felt that there was a severe lack of budget travel in Korea. Jeju Air, the main budget carrier, doesn’t even have an English website. So, this is all but good for the region.

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