Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Getting From Singapore to Okinawa (Japan)

In our last blog post, we shared 5 reasons why we wanted to bring our children to Okinawa in Japan.



Oh, wait. Where on earth is Okinawa? It is the southern most prefecture of Japan, and is actually located at quite a distance away from Japan mainland.

image source: Google Maps

Then the next question is, how do we get from Singapore to Okinawa in a shorter time and at a lower air fare?

Note: I checked the price and timing of flights for June 2016 during late March 2016. The price, promotions and timing are subjected to changes. 


Getting from Singapore to Okinawa IN A SHORTER TIME
Once in a while, SilkAir offers 5+ hours direct flights from Singapore to Okinawa. When I checked with some tour agencies, I was informed that those are charter flights, we have to book the package tours  - free & easy tour or group tour - with a few specific tour agencies. So it means that we can't purchase only the air tickets. I was also informed that there is no in-flight entertainment, but passengers can view movies from SilkAir selection using their own mobile devices connected to in-flight WiFi. If you are interested to take SilkAir direct flight with package tours, take note that there are a few charter flights in June 2016.

Another option is Cathay Pacific. The total duration including transit at Hong Kong is about 8 hours 30 minutes during summer. The flight departs very early in the morning from Singapore, and returns from Okinawa in late afternoon - so that we can maximise the stay in Okinawa.

Alternatively, China Airlines, which transits at Taipei,  also takes about 8 hours 30 minutes. The departing time from Singapore is in late morning, and returning from Okinawa in late morning.

Updated in August 2017: Jetstar has launched a new direct flight from Singapore to Okinawa! The flight duration is 5 hours 10 minutes! However, it does not depart from Singapore everyday, and the departure time from Singapore is 2.20 a.m.... yes, 2.20 a.m.!


Getting from Singapore to Okinawa AT A LOWER AIR FARE
The lowest air fare that I found was to take Jestar or Tigerair between Singapore and Taipei, and Peach Aviation (a low cost carrier based in Japan, their website here) between Taipei and Okinawa. It worked out to be about SGD2300 for us (2 adults and 2 children) on the dates that I planned for our trip. While it is the cheapest option, based on the flight schedule in June 2016, we would have to spend a few hours at Taipei for transit.

For Cathay Pacific, the usual air fare for one adult is about SGD960+. Wow, sound expensive, right? Don't give it up yet! We found out that Cathay Pacific sometimes has credit card promotions! It worked out to be about SGD2500 or us (2 adults and 2 children) to visit Okinawa in mid-June.

For China Airlines, the air fare is comparable to Cathay Pacific's credit card promotional price.

Updated in August 2017: Jetstar's new direct flight from Singapore to Okinawa ranges from SGD400+ to SGD800+ depending on the day of the week that you are travelling, as well as whether you add baggage, seat selection and meal.

Conclusion
Although the direct flight saves some time, we had to give it a miss as the packages are more expensive as compared to making bookings on our own (ok, nothing surprising). The total air fare for low cost airlines is about SGD200 less than that for full service airlines, and we prefer full service airlines. Based on the timing and air fare, we have decided on Cathay Pacific, which we had a pleasant experience with during our Taiwan trip last year.

Updated in August 2017: I would definitely consider the direct flight by Jetstar if I am visiting Okinawa again!


Updated in June 2016: Our Experience with Cathay Pacific to Okinawa
We woke up at 3+ am to catch our flight at 6+am! We checked in our luggage and was informed that we could pick it up at Okinawa, no need to pick it up during transit at Hong Kong. The transit at Hong Kong was 1 hour, but we found that we had to board the connecting flight at the other end of Hong Kong International Airport! And it took a while for the clearance of hand-carried luggage. So basically we had to walk at a jogging pace. We also had to take a shuttle bus to get to the boarding gate! Never underestimate the size of Hong Kong International Airport!

The connecting flight from Hong Kong to Okinawa was operated by Cathay Dragon. It was a smaller plane and there was no in-flight entertainment for this flight.

When we departed from Okinawa, the children had their first experience of boarding the plane via airstairs. The flight from Okinawa to Hong Kong was also operated by Cathay Dragon, but this time round, there was in-flight entertainment. The transit in Hong Kong was 2 hours, which was sufficient for us to have a meal at Hong Kong International Airport. I was glad that I brought along some Hong Kong dollars!

The flight from Hong Kong to Singapore departed at 8+pm at night, so we arrived Singapore at about 1+am.

I noticed that the total travel and transit duration of 8+ hours as well as the promotional airfare were only applicable during summer time. Out of curiosity, I checked for December 2016, the total travel and transit duration was much longer, and the airfare was much more expensive! So if you are visiting Okinawa in winter time, you may consider other airlines.


Our Okinawa Travelogue


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27 comments :

  1. Cool!! looking forward to your write up on your Japan trip.

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  2. Never knew Okinawa was an island off Japan! I always thought it was just in the southern part of Japan. I would have thought maybe flying o Osaka and taking a domestic flight using ANA or the other domestic carrier (Japan Air i think) might be faster or cheaper. Vaguely remember their airfares like a mth before to be quite cheap (v obvious ticketing prices can see daily airfares up to a mth before travel!) Thanks for sharing the other options to fly tho! Hehe cheap n good

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    1. It would take more than 10 hours to fly north to Osaka / Tokyo and then fly south to Okinawa!

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  3. I'm still thinking where to bring the kiddos this year. Will google Okinawa. Thanks for the tip!

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    1. I am publishing a blog post next week on planning a trip to Okinawa, and included some resources, hope this may be useful.

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    2. Oh that's great! Keep me updated!

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  4. Cathay for a family of 4 at S$2500 is a good deal! Will try to find out when's their next credit card promo.. Thanks for the tips!

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    1. I just checked the new promotion, it is now $2300 for 2 adults and 2 children! Sob...

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  5. Whoa! didn't know about this place. Thanks for sharing the info. Looks interesting!

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    Replies
    1. This place seems not very popular to Singaporeans.

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  6. Thanks for sharing the flight deals. It's time to book our next vacation.

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  7. Actually hor, i havent plugged the courage to visit Japan, any where in Japan, because of the nuclear leakage.

    We havent experienced it in our generation, the damage it could bring, so I dare not take the risk. Until i have done my research on nuclear radiation, when i can be assured it is safe, then only will we visit, i think.

    So meanwhile, i just read all the blog posts of all of you who have gone Japan.

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    1. We also have this concern, so that's one of the reasons why we chose this island that is quite a distance away from Japan mainland. The distance between Okinawa and nuclear plant is further than the distance between South Korea and nuclear plant.

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  8. Oh wow, I didn't really know how to pick the best flights but now I have an inkling of an idea.

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  9. I was initially planning to go Okinawa when I saw that Silk Air has direct flights then I realised it was with package tours which I'm not a fan of. Shall read your blog post and see what we can do. Looking forward to it.

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    1. You can consider the airline that I have booked, look for the credit card promotion!

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  10. I've been to most major cities in Japan but not Okinawa!! Looking forward to hearing more of your experience. We're going back to boring Tokyo in June haha

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

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    1. I have been to Tokyo, Hokkaido, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Hiroshima, am looking forward to explore another place in Japan!

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  11. May I know what SIM card are you using during your trip to Okinawa?

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    1. We didn't use SIM card, we rented Wifi router from car rental company.

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  12. was it very troublesome to change flights? how long did it take transit and all?

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    1. For the flight we had, the transit in Hong Kong was 1-2 hours. It took 8+ hours to get from Singapore to Okinawa. The transit at Hong Kong was quite manageable, except that we had to walk from one end of Hong Kong Airport to the other end.

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  13. i find this blog very useful! i took advantage of jetstar promo and got my tickets for myself and my 3yo for only $694!!! :)

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    1. Glad that you find our blog useful. Enjoy your trip!

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