wow thanks for the info! really v helpful... yup we're going for our honeymoon... actually may consider going to SF, LA, LV that side too.. coz my fiance's aunt stays in LA.. and it's near universal studios... so thinking if stay there a few nights we'll save quite a bit of money. so prob gotta really plan a nice itinery..
i also looking at SQ tickets.. think honeymoon wan to take SQ!!
Yeah, domestic flights are always overbooked, so the best is to check in as early as you can either online, or go to the airport early.
SF is very accessible, so you only need a car when you intend to get out of the city eg Napa, Monterey, and even those, you can join a tour if you rather not drive.Lots of car rental cos ard, so you can rent the car just before you leave. H/w, cars are usu reserved in advance, so better to make a reservation, or you may find urself without any car.
lots to do in NY. see previous posts.hmm, NY versus west coast... if you dun like the cold very much, then it'd be a better idea to go west coast.
actually NY is busy with tourists whole yr round,so no real off-peak/peak season.Hotel rates in Aug can be higher than rates in dec/jan.
Personally, i think it is better to stay in manhattan rather than Queens. Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx are not very gd neighborhoods.
ginn, yes we went during non-peak, tats why its a little cheaper. My fren who went in Aug & stay in the same hotel as us paid slightly higher.
U can try 2 loook 4 comfort inn, quality inn ard the area. Do not bk howard johnson, heard its not so clean.
i personally feel tat Queens & brooklyn is still alrite... the hotel we (me & hb) stay is also like a business hotel where some budget businessmen comes & stay. ANd its near to some musuem or cultural centre (i forgot which). We park our car in one of the garage 2 blocks away frm the hotel at oni US$11 per nite & there u can see alot of pple parking there to take the subway.
Our hotel got locked doors, meaning u mus have a card to get into it. The doormen somewat oredi recognised us so he everytime will help us open the door when we came back. The latest we came back is 9+ via subway & is still pretty safe.
This is the oni hotel i dare to recommend in Queens. The rest i not so sure... I had frens stayin in Manhatten but its so ex...
another tip: when checking the rates on www.choicehotels.com (the comfort inn, quality inn, super 8 chain of hotels), be sure to click on internet users rate where it will show slightly cheaper rate than the standard rate...
hi ginn, i find ny n west coast offers v. different experiences to travellers. hving stayed in both, it's difficult to say one is absolutely better than the other. most pple hv a preference, but u wun know until u actually hv been to both.
so just go with ur gut first n visit the next one on ur 5th anniversay.
if u go east coast, i hope ny wun be the only stop, cos there r many other places in northeastern us that r worth visiting, most options wun even require u to rent a car. the itin dun hv to be rushed if u r on f&e. set ur own pace.
i too prefer to stay in manhattan for the convenience, but i think that's bcos i'm usually there for such a short time. haha.
the places to look for cheap accomodations within manhattan these couple of yrs is the chelsea area. i've been to a couple of the hostel-like places there, the area is quite all right, not many loiterers n the hostels r sort of average, but i wun exactly recommend any of them, cos each has its own problems n sometimes it just boils down to individual expectations.
i had a bad experience in koreatown area when on my way back to my hostels late at night (past midnight). i was in a group of 4 n we stopped along the street cos someone realised he lost his camera. once we stopped, a group of 5 homeless along the street started walking towards us. now, i'm not a person who gets nervous with homeless, since i lived in the east bay region for many yrs, n there r many, many homeless there. i could walk around alone at night n not feel threatened in east bay, but that incident in koreatown was the first time i felt i might not be safe bcos of homeless. koreatown always gives me a funny impression fr then on, cos it's a pretty safe area to travel in during the day or even after dinner, but that one time, after midnight, i felt totally unsafe there.
ok, moving on.... in manhattan, a lot of budget hotels gives the option of double or queen sized beds. double beds r actually full-sized beds, which r smaller than queen beds. so if u find queen beds small, dun even bother going for the double option, unless u want to get real cosy during honeymoon.
Since the subway doesn't run till very late, I suggest staying in Manhattan itself. At least you will still be able to get back ( by walking) to your hotel after a late night out. Alternatively, you can stay in NJ esp if you are taking SQ direct to La Guardia airport. Train to Manhattan downtown is abt 15 min.
Ya, lots of homeless people, but nothing like what I saw in SF a mth ago. I think SF is worse. In any case, you have to exercise caution wherever you are, and try not to stop along ( and stand around) the streets. Actually Korea-town is relatively safe, since it is one of the few areas that are still pretty crowded at late night becos there are asian pubs there ( compared to streets in soho etc).
There are also apartments that have been converted to motels where prices are really low. I stayed at one in May and rates were $50/night! Very nice and safe place, with a common area and kitchen too. I think it was on 32nd or thereabouts. Actually, lots of accomo around, except most of them are not advertised and there may not be signs to say that they are hotels/motels.
ur fren got a different rate for the same hotel becos like i've mentioned, the rate differs by the day. So you can even go there during the same period in Aug, but today and tomorrow's rate may be very much different.
yeah, i agree with och abt individual expectations regarding hotels. Of cos, what you see/get in motels/hostels will be different from 5-star hotels like the Sheraton on 7th Ave. But those come at USD300+ a night. Personally, I feel so long as the area is pretty okay, the room is clean, then it's good enough for me.
Wondering if lissa is still visiting this thread? Lissa, i realise ur itinerary will be similiar to mine if i were to go west coast, wondering which drive route did u take to LA from SF, is it the coastal drive?
I'm thinking of staying in monterey too. But how long does it take to drive from monterey to LA, any gals can advise?
haha jamyees. i think sf's homeless problem must be terrible compared to that in texas n ma. think it's the californian attitude of tolerance n gd weather. i used to live across the bay fr sf in berkeley. at that time, i thot the numbers of homeless there tops sf easily. but surprisingly i dun feel unsafe, even late at night. usually only feel unsafe in ghetto areas.
ny has many subway lines. some operate until midnight or 2am, some stop earlier. best to check b4 u get off the subway station, dun be blur like my friends n i, wondering how come so many trains passed us by but the one we want is not to be seen.
yeah jamyees, i agree tat the rates differ from time to time even if u key in the same date & time. The period tat i went is non-peak season & the period my fren went is in the peak season, tats why the rate differs by quite alot...
Where shd I stay if I would like to spend 2-3 days in Yosemite?
Was looking at what Hippie has suggested on choice hotels, are they good? I read from tripadvisor.com and people usually do not give good review. So I really don't know how to gauge.. *sigh* I have less than 2 months to plan for my itinery...
yeah.. the homeless problem in SF is terrible compared to most parts of the US. Hardly see any homeless people in New England and have not seen a single one in TX so far. I think its the weather too. They will shiver to death in New England, and suffer from heatstroke in TX. SF is more " conducive". heheh.
ralphine, generally based on my experience, so far all the choice hotels I've stayed (Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Super 8) are quite alright in terms of cleanliness. Quite value 4 money, i shld say based on their rates.
Another chain of hotels which i like very much is Homestead Studios. THey have a mini kitchen with fridge, microwave & cooking utensils/cutlery. Their prices are very reasonable. SO far I stayed in quite a few Homestead, in West Coast & East Coast. ALl have been positive & the prices i got are under USD$50, mostly bidded thru' priceline.
Hotels to avoid where possible: Ramada Inn, Howard Johnson...based on reviews frm frens & myself..
ramada is generally (not all) located at more ulu places. And their chain of motels are quite old & dull-y...i stayed once & avoided it since. Few of my frens they also dun hav gd reviews on ramada..
i think ur first consideration for yosemite should be whether u want to stay within the park or outside the park. the national park system, of which yosemite is part of, hv restricted accomodations within every park. some parks hv no accomodations inside at all.
for me personally, i think it makes sense to pay more n stay within yosemite if u r interested in hiking, watching sunrise. the reasons r that the nearest towns n motels tend to take a gd half hr to 45 minutes drive thru the mountains fr yosemite valley, where u will most likely be parking ur car b4 u venture out. if u add up the minutes, it means u hv to wake up a gd 1.5-2 hr b4 sunrise, n that's rather brutal imo, especially when u intend to take on a full day hike. however prices for accomodations within the park r v. high for relatively low comfort n u r also subjected to higher food price. it's a tradeoff between price n convenience.
for a list of accomodations within n outside the park, try http://www.nps.gov/yose/pphtml/planyourvisit.html. i've stayed in curry village n housekeeping camp b4. these r fairly basic, despite the price. haha. they r basically just 1 step up fr setting up camps urself.
but the location is faultless if u intend to do a lot within the park.
hotels reviews need to be read carefully. i normally try to ignore the stars but consider how alike ur expectations r with the reviewers. some pple think gd view is most impt, some think location, some want comfort. rustic means gd to some pple n r poison to others. mismatch of expectations gives bad reviews, simple as that. that's why the luxury end always get the best reviews, cos they cater to a self-selected crowd n match expectations best. pple who dun expect to pay that US$300 for 8 hrs of sleep wun be around to review the hotel.
sf has a policy of extreme tolerance. when reagan closed down rehab centres n other services for the needy n ill, california was one of the few states that din reject residents of those centres. sf/berkeley were the most tolerant cities, hence the large numbers of homeless there. some of these pple hv a place in shelters, but for whatever reason, prefer not to. maybe it's the good weather. these pple r usually quite mild, cos there r soup kitchens all over towns which feed them daily n they r actually still receiving medical subsidies. then there r the willingly homeless, mostly youngsters running away fr home. think it's the hippies culture of sf that attracts them fr all over the country. there r homeless in new england. most r just housed in shelters at night. i find new england cities r generally a lot richer due to the large numbers of old n powerful families residing there, hence the homeless r less tolerated on streets n r put in shelters. but in poorer districts, u will still see homeless. in fact, i see many homeless hanging around central sq, ma at night, most camping in the doorways of shops n apt buildings, even in winter. but during blizzards, they will escape to shelters, only to return when shop owners clear their doorways n reopen shops.
Thanks for the great explanation. Yeah, I was looking at the website and realised those accomodation within the park are usually higher priced. Well, like you mentioned, I would like to see sunrise and since I'm here in the park, should experience the great nature. Sad to say, I tried booking curry village and they are all booked for the period that I want. *sigh* I am not keen to stay outside of the park, coz its not worth the journey to drive up and down for 2 days. Guess I have to see what other alternatives are there.
While planning, I am just wondering if I should stay LA downtown or LAX since there's nothing much in there. If I do plan to start travelling to Universal Studio, and then 2 days later to Disneyland.. where do you suggest I should book my accomodation? I was told not all places are safe to stay, hence its very impt to check out the area. Maybe you can advise me on this
Did you book all your accomodation in Singapore and planned the arrival and departure based on the hotel schedule? My hubby was suggesting to get book the 1st two then play by ear as we travel. Hmm.. what you reckon? Thanks!
we stayed at the one that is quite near the airport and as hubby was working in Scaramento then, so also stayed in the one at Scaramento.
Miss the bed & the breakfast cereal.
Think cost also less then USD100 after tax and got cooking facilities.
Hi Blue Ginger
We flew from San Jose to LV. Drove from Yosemite to San Jose. Take only 1hr to reach LV. I guess also depend on luck as the dosmetic flight sometime the schedule not very reliable. Was stranded in LV a/p for a whole day when the flight got cancel
sorry, i went to bangkok for a wk, so i din hv internet access.
i'm a bad person to ask abt hotels in city areas in general, since i was in la many, many yrs ago as a student. i stayed in a motel in the anaheim area, cos i had a car then n most hotels in anaheim gave free parking.
whether u prebook hotels or not depends on 1) where u r going n 2) how fussy u r abt accomodations. if u r travelling off the beaten tracks or off-peak season, not prebooking is entirely feasible n gives u flexibility. in city areas such as sf, la, lv etc, it is almost always possible to get rooms at the last minute, but u might not be able to get the same value or the same location for the same price. i din prebook my accomodations on one of my trips to lv. ended up paying US$90 for a motel rm with basic facilities, when i can easily get a better hotel for similar prices if i prebook online. however, not prebooking gives flexibility. that time, i needed that flexibility cos we could not confirm when we can reach lv. if u dun need that flexibility, then prebook accomodations will save u precious time when u arrive, cos u dun hv to drive all over the place to look for accomodations.
u can try booking directly with hotels online. some hotels offer preferential rates to hoteling websites, but some chains will offer the best rates thru their own booking sites. booking directly with hotels usually means u can make use of their liberal cancellation policies that allows u to cancel ur accomodations b4 4pm, day of arrival.
i usually take southwest (http://www.southwest.com) if i'm travelling on leisure cos it is v. cheap n it offers many flights between cities in the west coast. however, it is a budget airline, no allocated seats n very popular, since it is v. cheap. on busy travelling days, u will need to check in early (taking into account that u need a long time to queue up for security checks cos there r so many pple), so there's a tradeoff there.
Have you use United airlines, saw their comment stated that (Operated by United For Ted), is that ok?
How early do I need to check in 2hr enuff? Have heard about ppl stuck in airport when miss flight, is that really so common for those internal flights?
I dun mind pay slightly more, really dun want to hv any delay or miss flight prob, cos my trip is rather short only 1wk.
i've never actually taken ted myself. it doesn't hv that many routes n its prices r not that attractive for a budget airline.
but i have taken united a few times. honestly speaking, for domestic routes, i find there is little difference in terms of service levels. on some routes u get better service on one airline, but on other routes, that airline can suck pretty bad. for eg, i find delta mediocre on most routes but i absolutely hate delta from all of the new york airports. imagine i was at a counter trying to get on an earlier connection. this angmoh pair of tai-tais who came later than me, went to the counter next to me, requested for an earlier connection too n got on the flight i wanted while i was told that there were no seats?! that made my blood boil.
theoretically, u only need to check in 1 hr b4 for domestic flights n 2 hrs for international flights. practically, it depends on many factors, including how many other flights r flying off at the same time, how full the flight is etc, cos still hv to queue for checkin n make ur way past security to the gate. 2hrs b4 departure for domestic flight is usually ok. if possible, try to use those self checkin counters. many airlines hv them. if u cannot use it, e.g. if ur ticket class doesn't allow, u should alert the counter if ur flight is departing in 45 min n u r still far fr checking in.
as for cancelled flights.... flights within west coast r not frequently cancelled unless it's due to weather conditions (e.g. fog) or problems with planes. once u find out the flight is cancelled, u should go (run!)immediately to a counter n request to be transfered. there r always limited seats left in later flights n many passengers affected by the cancelled flight, so it pays to be kiasu in this situation. it also pays to be polite but assertive. if that airline's other flights within the day r full, ask the staff to check another airline. but if the staff says their system not linked up, dun hesitate, go to another airline counter to get urself a flight first, then come back n seek compensation. u will probably notice that the pple standing in line behind u r all running off too.
after u get assigned a flight, it's a gd idea to show up at the gate very, very early. in cases where passengers r redirected due to a cancelled flight, chances of overbooking in subsequent flights r extremely high. u can usually guess u r a standby passenger or not, cos the "boarding pass" given to you has no seat assigned yet. so if u show up at a gate later than other standby passengers, chances r that they will be assigned a seat n not u.
Thanks a lot for the explaination..getting worried with the internal flights in US already. I noticed that the south west has many pricing for the tickets fun fares/advance purchase/internet special/restricted fares. So usually we buy those under advance purchase grp?
yup, advance purchase tix r cheaper, but they dun usually allow u to switch flights without penalty. usually i just go with the cheapest available to me, since my itin is more or less fixed.
dun worry too much abt internal flights. it's really a matter of luck. u only hv 1 wk, remember to hv fun rather than worry excessively. if u want to worry, will hv to worry abt a lot of other things, what if car breaks down, what if wallet gets stolen.... a lot of things may go wrong n r out of ur control, but enjoying urself is within ur control.
when are you going? me tentatively schedule from 14-24/12/06. dec airfares is not out yet. can only wait. me & hb went US before with tour during this CNY. this time will be free & easy trip... thats why got to book everything ourselves.
where can i get cheapest domestic airtickets? went to few airlines, they are selling at abt SGD650 for 2 pax. advance booking needed or can i just walk-in to purchase when i am there? will it be cheaper?
walk-ins r never cheaper. what cities r u flying between? different airlines hv different hubs, so where u go will determine which airlines u should check. sgd650 for 2pax isn't expensive if u r travelling between more remote locations or flying >3hrs.
it is usually expensive to fly out fr sfo. u should probably try oakland airport or san jose airport. the 2 most common budget airlines that ply those routes r southwest airlines http://www.southwest.com n american west (try http://www.orbitz.com rather than http://www.usairways.com/awa/). during promotion periods, airlines will offer these routes for as cheap as US$70 each way. otherwise, the fares r normally in the range of US$100 each way. the fares r b4 taxes. considering u can save US$60 per roundtrip per pax, it might be worthwhile to wait for special promotions.
which airport u choose will probably depend on where u depart fr. if u r leaving fr san fran city, it's easier to reach oakland. u can reach the oakland airport via bart, which is the sf subway system. take bart to the coliseum / oakland airport station for US$3-4, n follow the signs that will take u to the special airport shuttle. i think the shuttle is $2 or so. alternatively, u can opt to take the door-to-door airport shuttle services. u will need to call a day ahead to book a place. i believe it is abt US$20+tips per pax. there is a list of shuttle companies here: http://www.flyoakland.com/shuttles.shtml. i normally just check yellow pages when i arrive.
it's quite expensive to get to san jose airport fr san fran city. if u drive, the distance is short, but somehow, public transport between the two locations is quite pathetic. however, if u r coming fr monterrey, gilroy or yosemite, san jose airport is probably a convenient choice.
thanks och! last nite i booked my whole trip thru expedia.com. total package US$1400 include SIN-SFO-LAS-SFO-SIN airfares, 5 days circus circus hotel in LV and 3 days ramada downtown hotel in SF. price include taxes and surchg.
I am new in this thread. Wondering if anyone of you planning to take local packaged tour? Or anyone has an agent who can tie up with the local tours in US? Was planning to go LA, LV and SF. But worried that local packaged tours will cancel last min due to insufficient pple. Thanks!
i've been keeping track of the discussions in this thread for some time as my hubby and i are planning a trip to west coast usa in october later this year. it's going to be from sf-la-lv. really happy to see so much useful info all in one place.
we're currently planning our accommodations and so far, the most value for money accommodations based on the discussions on this thread are:
san fran - stratford, SF Holiday Inn
LA - Hollywood Celebrity Hotel
LV - Circus Circus?
please correct me if i'm wrong.
also, are there any other suggestions or reviews?
btw, is circus circus value for money? is it near the strip? ermz... a bit blur, but should we book a hotel near the strip or fremont? what's the diff?
is anyone keen to go in oct? any lobangs for cheap air tics from sin-sfo and lax-sin?
i'm also going in Oct!! have booked my tics from NWA, they had a promo but ended already, bought the tics at $1240 per person taxes included, open jaw to SFO and depart from LAX too - cheapest i could find in end of july but probably now there may have some promo going on? Do check out those Free & easy package, some may offer quite good deals with 2 nights stay in hotel.
i think circuscircus seem to be one of the cheaper hotels, it's along the strip and should be quite ok. It's better to stay on strip, where everything is happenening there!
Thanks for replying. i'll definitely check out the air tickets this weekend.
btw, are you doing a free & easy as well? hubby and i are renting a car in LA, but after that, we're returning the car to go to LV. we'll be taking a bus from LV to LA to catch our flight. i'm wondering how to get to the airport from the bus station. are there any public transport we could take? we're taking the greyhound buses. please help.