Ideas: Austin to Tokyo to Kyoto to Hong Kong $947 + $148 rail?

[06/26/2014 @ 3:47 PM] Open itinerary on Google Flights.
[06/30/2014 @ 3:11 PM] Price has increased to $980.
[07/16/2014 @ 7:30 PM] The fare used to create this itinerary is no longer available at a discount.

This post is part of the [Itinerary Ideas] category which focuses more on the practical application of the fares that are featured in the [Daily Flight Deals] category.

Hmm. Hong Kong or Tokyo, which to choose? Why not both? Why not both and also Osaka and Kyoto? That’s what I’ll be covering in this itinerary idea. My favorite time to visit Japan and Hong Kong is in the spring and while spring 2015 is still quite a while away, we probably won’t see many better itineraries than this one. Japan during cherry blossom season is unbelievably beautiful, I couldn’t do it justice with words and avoiding the hotter months of Hong Kong will make any time there more enjoyable. If you’ve ever wanted to visit either of these countries I think this itinerary handles it spot on.

I first started writing this post right after I saw that there was cheap airfare to Hong Kong (HKG) from Austin (AUS) for several reasons. The most important reason was that it allowed stopovers, the second most important reason was that the fare is valid for travel out to at least the middle of next year and the last component that really makes this shine is that it allows a free open-jaw. This itinerary uses the “KLX04CM4” fare basis that was detailed in last night’s post [Cheap Flights: Austin to Hong Kong $818 r/t 1-stop].

I’ll be assuming you’re already familiar with how stopovers work, otherwise. Start here: [How to use stopover rules when buying airfare].

So, here’s the deal: Fly from Austin to Tokyo and try to catch sakura season in full bloom then take the Shinkansen to Kyoto and hopefully catch the best part of the season: when the petals start to fall and cover everything in pink and white leaves. The open jaw lets us exit Japan from Osaka (KIX) instead of Tokyo (NRT) and fly to Hong Kong (HKG) for an additional stop before heading back to Austin. All of that for $947 and $148 in rail is hard to beat.

What I just proposed is similar to [Ideas: Houston to Tokyo – Kyoto – Osaka – Jakarta – Singapore $1258 + $148 rail], but far less ambitious. Hong Kong is China on “easy mode” and Japan has a tendency to be highly entertaining the less Japanese you know.

Here’s the proposed itinerary:

  1. Apr. 2: Leave Austin (AUS) for Tokyo (NRT)
  2. Apr. 3: Land at Tokyo (NRT)
    Narita Express to Tokyo Station
  3. Sep. 20: Leave Tokyo Station for Kyoto Station
  4. Sep. 23: Leave Kyoto Station for Osaka Station
  5. Sep. 24: Leave Osaka Station for Kansai Airport
    JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service
  6. Apr. 10: Leave Osaka (KIX) for Hong Kong (HKG)
  7. Apr. 16: Leave Hong Kong (HKG) for Austin (AUS)
aus-nrt then kix-hkg-aus
our itinerary will look kind-of like this.

I want to point out that the rail portion of this itinerary is pretty much blown wide open. Japan has a fantastic rail network that can get you anywhere in the country quickly and cheaply.

Kansai Area Rail Pass
Once you’re in Kyoto, a Kansai Area rail-pass opens up a lot of options.

Important External Links:

When I visit Japan, I usually pick up whatever rail pass I need from JTB. They have a local office in Houston by the Galleria and you can pick up the voucher from them there. The voucher isn’t valid for travel, you need to take it with you to a JR-Rail ticket counter and exchange it for your official rail pass that the conductor will recognize. Hyperdia is linked here, because it is awesome for train prices and timetables. You’ll need it, just use it a bit and you’ll see what I mean. Note that in my itinerary here, I’m not using a rail pass: I’m just buying tickets as I need them as that is cheaper if we’re not going to do something awesome like go to Kobe and have some steak. The Kansai rail pass is only $20 USD per day, so.. you’ll actually save money with one if you deviate from this itinerary, just an FYI.

To those of you that want to cut some time out of this itinerary, you can drop the whole rail portion and open-jaw and just do Tokyo and Hong Kong for $947 total, but really, you’re missing out by not experiencing the other cities between Tokyo and Osaka.

While you’re in Hong Kong, consider staying in or visiting the Kowloon side on the peninsula it’s quite vibrant especially the area in and around Mong Kok at night.

If you have any questions about Japan, or Hong Kong shoot me a message, I’ve been to those countries and visit Japan often. I hope this gives you a few itinerary ideas. The itinerary should pull up on Google Flights if you click the links I provided. I wasn’t able to make it happen via Expedia, Orbitz or even

WikiTravel is a good resource of destination information:

Flight Details:

  • Availability: Lots. Try midweek flights from the end of August until the middle of 2015.
  • Documentation: Just your passport. If you want to visit mainland China, you’ll need to get a Tourist visa. More details: US State Department: Hong Kong.
  • Departure and Destination Airports: AUS- HKG
  • Example Dates: See details in post (above).
  • Carrier: United
  • Fare Basis Code: KLX04CM4
  • Fare Class: K
  • Mile Accrual: 100%
  • Stopover component: two: one each direction for $100 each.
  • CPM: 4.75 (17203 miles)
  • NOTE: [United MileagePlus is switching to a revenue based system starting March 1st 2015, which means that CPM will be much less, you may want to use your ANA number instead.]
  • Full Route: AUS – ORD – HKG – SFO – AUS
  • Open this itinerary on: Google Flights

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