Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Wed October 21 2015

Why is Asia Bereft of Low Season Deals?

Destination & Tourism | Josh Lew | October 21, 2015

Why is Asia Bereft of Low Season Deals?

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Some budget-conscious travelers only hit the road when they can score a low season deal. For them, cheaper hotel rates and airfares make it worth putting up with less-than-perfect temperatures or precipitation.

Those who dream about an off-season escape to Asia might be out of luck, however. According to booking site Agoda, the continent is the worst when it comes to discounts on hotels. Guests often have to pay a similar rate whether they are booking a hotel for the high season or for the low season.

Where have the deals gone?

Agoda cited data from 25 of the world’s most popular destinations. Cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam and Berlin saw deep discounts during certain times of year. Travelers who booked a hotel in these locales during winter (after the holidays), for example, scored rooms that were about 35 percent cheaper than high season prices.

On the other hand, hotel rates in Seoul, Singapore and Shanghai stayed more consistent throughout the year. Deal seekers who decide to travel to these cities might find the odd discount, but according to Agoda, the savings would almost always be less than 10 percent lower than peak rates.

Why Asia doesn’t want to give you a deal

First of all, the holiday calendar is different in Asia. It is not only different from the Western holiday calendar, but it changes from year to year. Chinese New Year, for example, is THE holiday in the Sinosphere. Hotels are often booked months in advance. The dates for the festivities change depending on the lunar cycle. The celebration could fall anywhere between January and late February, The same rotating-date phenomenon happens during the Hindu festival of Diwali (in mid to late autumn).

The simple supply and demand dynamic is also to blame for the lack of low season promotions. Demand is currently quite high throughout East Asia and even in India. In business hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore, bookings depend on the economy, not on the weather. And, right now, the economy is very good in these destinations. 

There is a best time to book

Agoda’s survey showed that booking a hotel early in the year usually leads to the lowest prices. January and February rates were below average for 22 out of the 25 cities surveyed. October, meanwhile, was when bookers paid the highest premiums, on average.

The good news: Agoda only looked at 25 major cities. Better low season deals can undoubtedly be found in secondary cities and, perhaps, in more-rural destinations or beach towns.

Where to look for low season deals in Asia

On beaches, for example, low-season deals usually coincide with rainy weather. Some popular destinations, like Phuket, Thailand, have monsoon seasons that are not actually as bad as people think. Heavy downpours do occur, but they are followed by periods of dry, sunny weather. Prices will be at yearly lows on the island between June and September, but vacations taken during this time probably won’t be washed out completely. Some people actually prefer the wet season on Phuket because the rains cool the island down.

So you will find hotel deals in Asia, but if you are planning on scoring a low season rate in one of the continent’s major cities, you may be out of luck. 

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