Our Process :
We have a combined fifty years of experience in Asia and professional advice is always valuable, so we offer a free consultation to everyone.
Recieve a day-by-day trip outline and daily overview. Our packages include accommodations with breakfast, regional air tickets (but not international tickets), private guides or "local hosts," transportation, and certain other meals depending on the location.
Upon agreeing to an outline, recieve a price estimate for your trip along with a request for booking deposit in order to secure the regional air tickets and all other arrangements accordingly. This amount varies based on the destination, travel dates and overall expense of the trip, but is generally $5,000.
After recieving your deposit we confirm with all of our local partners and come back to you with a final confirmation along with any changes or adjustments that occured during the confirmation process.
We will ask for the balance of the payment 45 days before departure and begin preparing your final documents which will be mailed to you before you leave home.
Enjoy Exotic Asia!
How is Asia Desk different?
Asia Desk trips are unique and easily customizable as we are both the planner and the regional operator. We are vertically integrated versus a traditional travel agency due to our involvement at the local level. Over the years, our reputation has primarily been built upon the strength of our network of great people along with our highly unique experiences. Specifically, our services always feature a “local host” at each stop along the itinerary, individuals who have been handpicked due to their regional knowledge, English-language skills, and congenial personalities. Some of these hosts have worked with us for over 20 years, and all are officially licensed professional tour guides. They will meet you upon arrival, oversee all local transportation and touring, and generally deal with all aspects of your activities while you are with them. They will also accommodate any special requests if not already in place, such as restaurant reservations or private gallery visits. After all, this is your trip rather than ours or theirs. We always allow for spontaneity during travel, something that our hosts are well-aware of, so they remain completely flexible to change, rearrange, or add anything that you see fit throughout your experience. Each host has total autonomy to make your time with them what you want it to be and we back them 100%. Many times the relationships founded on trips between Asia Desk travelers and their hosts continue for years, something we encourage and are, in fact, very proud of!
Do you charge a planning fee to get started?
No, we give complimentary advice to anyone and encourage you to give us a call. The first requisite charge would be if you would like to move past a preliminary outline and officially go forward with a trip in the form of a booking deposit.
Will I receive physical documents?
Yes, both at the trip confirmation stage and at the post-final payment stage.
How should we book international flights?
From North America, coach prices to Southeast Asia can be as low as $900 round-trip at some times of the year, usually winter. From June to August, prices can increase to over $1,900. The further out you book, the better deal you will likely get. This air should be booked by you rather than us, especially as many of our clients prefer to use rewards points. Whatever your preference, since this is “the horse that pulls the cart,” it must be settled first in our trip planning together. If you need assistance to book international flights beyond our general advice on the matter, we definitely recommend utilizing Cranky Concierge (crankyconcierge.com) for the most opportunistic routings and value. They can issue flight tickets for you on all the major airlines, inclusive of using your rewards points, and will provide you with personalized updates as your departure nears.
What is included on an Asia Desk trip?
Almost everything. Our services are provided as a complete "package" of arrangements, including all regional flights (Bangkok to Hanoi for example), but excluding international airfare to/from North America. Most of the trip cost, up to 70% in some cases, is directly related to accommodations, so the selection of hotels and room-types within those hotels is very important. We do not use sub-standard rooms, even in luxury hotels and will always specify both the hotels and the room-types in all prior correspondence regarding your trip. Generally, our offer includes the aforementioned daily accommodations, along with breakfast, host services, high-quality local vehicles and drivers, any other transport like boats, cyclos, or planes, and all admission and site fees. Lunch is often included, and in remote areas, or for special events, dinner as well, otherwise clients often prefer to dine on their own in the evenings (all will be specified in your documents). This is presented as a full-package cost, on a per person (or per party) basis, inclusive of all services, administrative fees, and local taxes, etc., with no hidden charges or "extras.” Currently we do not make “only hotel reservations” or “only sightseeing reservations” outside of our existing structure. So, aside from international flights, visas (which you will need for most countries), some meals or hotel incidentals, souvenirs, and local tipping, all else should be included.
What does an average trip cost?
Trips generally start at $500 per person per day, inclusive of all standard features mentioned in the above description, although again this is largely dependent on hotel choice. A trip could be as high as $800 - $1,200 per person, per day, using all upgraded rooms, in all luxury-class hotels, with an extensive regional flight itinerary.
Do you have a trip minimum?
How much is the booking deposit?
It depends on the total trip cost, but generally a flat rate of either $5,000 or $10,000. Higher deposits may be required for shorter-term booking windows or for trips in peak season where arrangements must be locked in place with hotels, especially around New Years.
Do you provide visas?
We do not, but will provide the requisite info you need to know for obtaining any visas. For example (for North American travelers), Cambodia and Laos require visas but they can be obtained upon arrival if you prefer it, whereas Burma, Vietnam, and China should be acquired in advance. Thailand and Hong Kong do not require visas for stays of 30 days or less. If you would like a convenient way to obtain visas in advance, we recommend using a facilitator service like Travel Document Express (traveldocument.com) in D.C.
Additionally, all travelers must be in possession of a passport valid for the duration of their stay and for at least 6 months beyond their date of entry into most countries. Again, we’ll personalize this info for your trip but just know that it is the traveler’s responsibility to finalize their own visas and make sure their passports are up to date and have enough pages.
What is your cancellation policy?
The initial trip deposit (the catalyst for our going forward and making arrangements with the field), is paid by you based on a preliminary outline and estimated trip cost provided by Asia Desk, and is non-refundable and non-transferable. Once this cost is confirmed, your deposit would only be fully refundable if the confirmed cost exceeds 10% or more of our original estimate.
Otherwise, the next payment required (the final payment) will be the confirmed cost minus your deposit, for an outstanding balance due about 45 days prior to travel (unless you are in a shorter booking window).
We realize that after full payment has been made, you have every intention of traveling. However, should a situation arise where you are forced to either delay or cancel your trip, we must know immediately.
Our fee for cancellation is the amount of your deposit if cancellation is made prior to final payment. If cancellation is made after final payment, there is unfortunately no recourse. We may be able to apply some components of your trip to a future travel credit (on a case-by-case basis) but cannot guarantee it so please do consider this before making final payment.
Do you accept check or credit card?
We accept both.
Do you require trip insurance?
We do not require it, but highly recommend it. Since we do not sell insurance directly, we try to be receptive to client feedback, and so we currently recommend Travelex to our customers. For extended protection (of the medevac variety), we recommend Global Rescue.
When is a good time to buy trip insurance?
After your booking deposit is made and before final payment.
Will I have fun traveling with Asia Desk?
YES! Based on decades of client feedback, we are quite sure you’ll make memories to treasure for a lifetime.
"There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it."
Charles Dudley Warner