doraemon

Voyagin: Is This Online Booking Service Worth It for Budget Travellers?

A GLIMPSE ABOUT VOYAGIN

Voyagin is an online booking service for tours, tickets and restaurants in several Asian countries founded by Masashi Takahashi from Japan. Being a Japanese company, the widest range of services is in Japan, that includes mobile WiFi rental, SIM card and e-money card purchases. Other Asian countries available on Voyagin are Vietnam, Indonesia, Taiwan, India, Singapore and Hong Kong, with limited city options.

HOW I ENDED UP USING THE SERVICE

My first “encounter” with this company was when I was searching further information about Fujiko F. Fujio Museum on www.japan-guide.com since I’m a huge fan of Doraemon.

doraemon
nice to meet you…

The most bizarre thing about it is that the ticket should be bought in advance and there’s no ticket sales at the museum itself. Only when you arrive in Japan can you actually buy it from Loppi vending machines in any Lawson convenience stores.

I left for Tokyo on April 1 and planned to visit the museum the day after, on April 2. In that situation, I probably didn’t want to hassle searching for Lawson on my first day in Japan, although it is said that Lawson is available just a stone’s throw away from any hotels throughout the country. Not to mention that the instructions are only written in Japanese and asking a shop assistant for help could take a lot of time.

Therefore, I decided to get it online prior to my arrival in Japan by clicking the link of Voyagin on www.japan-guide.com, redirected to Fujiko F. Fujio Museum online booking page.

Nonetheless, if you have more time and want to experience using Loppi machine in a correct way, save or print the English instruction before having yourself in front of the machine.

HOW VOYAGIN WORKS

In my experience, booking a ticket through Voyagin is as simple as one, two, three. Click www.govoyagin.com to find the latest offers on tours, tickets and restaurant bookings.

voyagin
voyagin homepage appearance on a smartphone

Once you find a desired destination, you just need to choose the available date and how many tickets you want to order.

But before that, it is highly recommended to click “Read Full Description” for more information on specific requirements from the destination  you are about to visit (e.g. time slot admittance options, what to or not to bring inside the museum, when to place a pre-order, additional information to submit, etc), as well as the company’s rule on ticket pick-up and delivery.

voyagin

Since Voyagin offers a  ticket delivery to the hotel as part of the service, you should make use of it wisely by informing the hotel name and its complete address, the full name used on your reservation and check-in date to the (Voyagin) officials at least 3 business days in advance. The earlier the better as long as you’re fully confirmed with where you stay when the ticket is delivered.

Otherwise, you could collect it in its office in Shibuya, Tokyo.

Address:
(English) Miyamasu ON Building 5th floor, 1-15-8 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
(Japanese) 〒150-0002 東京都渋谷区渋谷 1-15-8 宮益 ON ビル 5F

 

After clicking “Book It” button, complete the next form with your full name, email address, the length of your stay in Japan, ticket delivery option (choose either collect it at its office or at the hotel), special request, additional info (e.g. official entrance options, audio guide language options, etc when necessary) and payment information to secure your booking.

You will receive a confirmation email both in your inbox and your Voyagin account once you sign up that looks like the following:

voyagin japan
confirmation email from Voyagin

In case your request cannot be fulfilled, i.e. your entrance time slot preference is fully booked or the preferred date is not available, the officials will inform you within 3 days or less. If everything is okay, then you are set to go! Collect the ticket at the hotel or in its office in Shibuya, your choice.

Should you have more questions, you can chat with the staff using a chat box during operational hours on the right corner of the site, or an envelope sign on a smartphone.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT VOYAGIN

I was fully satisfied with the service from Voyagin because:

  1. Voyagin shares all information you need to know under one roof. Browsing multiple websites, reading scattered brochures, asking friends and random people about a place you are about to visit will no longer necessary. Moreover, when you receive the ticket, Voyagin gives you an additional information inside the envelope on public transports, bus or train schedules and road directions to your destination. It completely saves your time and energy.
  2. It delivers the ticket to your hotel. In other words, there’s no need to print the ticket from your email and bring it before coming to Japan. Upon arrival at the hotel, all I had to do is to ask the concierge for the letter with my ticket in it.
  3. Quick response. Chatting with the officials is very effective and efficient, as questions are replied within seconds during operational hours. When they are offline, you can leave your questions, name and email address, then you’ll get the reply within 24 hours.
  4. Free cancellation. Voyagin allows a full refund if you cancel your booking, except for last minute and fixed date tickets. Click here for more information about cancellation policies.
doraemon museum direction
Fujiko F. Fujio Museum bus schedule and direction

HOW MUCH DID I SPEND FOR IT?

Good question! And I’m going to explain it right now.

The original price of Fujiko F. Fujio Museum is ¥1000 (almost $9) from Loppi machine at Lawson convenience store in Japan. Voyagin sells the same ticket for $27 (about ¥3000). I was already well-informed about it before finally using Voyagin service.

When I received the museum ticket from Voyagin, I saw a Lawson logo on the top left side next to the barcode. I wasn’t surprised. I had known from the start that the company would buy it from the same Lawson’s Loppi machine.

So you know the conclusion right away. A ¥1000 ticket sold for ¥3000. Wow! Indeed, it offers a great service that comes with a price.

ticket doraemon

IS IT WISE TO USE VOYAGIN SERVICE FOR BUDGET TRAVELLERS?

If I knew that it would cost so much more to get the ticket from Voyagin, why on earth did I still use the service as a budget conscious traveller?

First of all, one of my main goals to Japan is to visit Fujiko F. Fujio Museum and I didn’t want to fail it. As mentioned before, I planned to visit it on my 2nd day in Japan. Therefore, I’d rather take a good rest on day 1 before actually began my adventures next day. Unfortunately, I have neither friends nor relatives in Japan whom I can count on to have the ticket bought for me in advance.

I’m not sure when I have time to return to Japan  next time just to see the museum. Even if I return to the country, it’s hard to tell whether I’m heading to Kawasaki area, the city where the museum is located, or not.

Time is money, an old saying that is also valid for budget travellers. I get it. As a budget traveller, you may tend to avoid tour operators or third parties to find tickets, hotels and so on to cut cost. Google maps and reading multiple travel blogs are your free guide books. I second that thoughts, too.

Nonetheless, there are times when it is wiser to replace “time” with “money”, especially when you have a tight schedule and spare time could be a luxury. I would rather spend 3 times higher than the original ticket rate, which is still less than $30, than spending another $500 airline ticket for revisiting the same place just because I didn’t succeed to figure out how to use Lawson’s Loppi machine or I couldn’t find the expected date since I’m too late because of late bookings, which is very ridiculous.

In my case, I have made a wise decision. There are still rooms for budget savings during the journey, from accommodation, airline ticket, to food.

Whether Voyagin is wise for you or not as a budget traveller, it depends on your situation. But I can assure you that if no locals can help you for bookings, you have no time or desperate to figure out yourself and prefer to save time and energy by having another party to do it for you, Voyagin could be your solution.

 

 

 

 

 

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How Korean Domestic Flight Online Booking can be Frustrating

This post is exceptional. Not because I’m such a great writer, but mainly because it is written before completion of my journey.

before “this” happens, get ready for online purchase culture shock (not from Niki)!

ONLINE BOOKING CULTURE SHOCK

Too often does media remind us to book online in advance to get less price. But do they often remind us that it is not always as easy as it sounds? An online booking from Seoul Gimpo Airport to Jeju Island that should not take more than 10 minutes became days until a couple of weeks. This is my first time to ask God for a Korean boyfriend to help me.

I’ve learned my lesson. It requires a greater effort for a foreigner like me to book a Korean domestic flight online and why I met a lot of dead ends when I deal with it:

1. Jeju Air

FYI, certain Korean airline websites only work properly with Internet Explorer, including Jeju Air, especially you need to download ActiveX to authorize credit card payment security, which is not compatible with Mozilla and Google Chrome. Using Explorer, don’t forget to disable pop-up blocker and sign up for membership before transaction. Checking schedules is doable with Chrome and Mozilla, but not the payment process. But it wasn’t the worst part.

The system couldn’t approve my registration by showing a pop-up reminder, “Please confirm the address is correct”. Filling up correct address, postcode, state, city and country accordingly didn’t work out. Modifying one to another to fit the system didn’t do any better. In a nutshell, there’s no way to sign up.

No registration, no transaction. Next.

2. Jin Air

When Skyscanner redirected me to Jin Air, offering amazingly cheap $65 return ticket, it’s screwed. The site is only valid for international flights. It doesn’t fly to and from Seoul Gimpo, but from Seoul Incheon to other countries. The only destination departing from Jeju Island is Shanghai. So why on earth did Skyscanner mention Jin Air on my search if it actually doesn’t exist? Next.

3. T’way Air

if only i knew what it means
image credit: http://www.twayair.com/

The site is all in Korean. Google translate converted it into English, but the schedule didn’t show up after choosing my destination and the date. It remained the same after I retried. I give up. However, I accidentally found an article called How to Purchase Tickets from T’way Airlines to Jeju Island while I was writing this post. Suppose you are willing to book online and learn some Korean simultaneously, it’s your chance. Okay, not now. Next.

3. Eastarjet

The good news is no registration required and the site is compatible for all search engines. Nonetheless, another problem occurred. After completing passenger’s info, the pop-up notification in Korean appeared. Not knowing what it means and being unable to cut and paste the message for translation, I don’t know what went wrong. Besides, I couldn’t fill up my mobile number properly since it only fits for 12 digits. Mine has 13 (including country code).

After several attempts that didn’t work? Next.

4. Asiana Airlines

Claiming that Explorer is able to maximize the site’s appearance and Chrome users need to verify their credit cards issued overseas by clicking the notification “Click here for online verification” (that actually cannot be clicked), it’s nonsense for foreigners. It merely accepts credit cards issued in Korea and no option for those applied overseas. Next.

5. Korean Air

The airline is my last choice since the rate is approximately $100 more expensive than the others. Nevertheless, for an alternative and the sake of this post, it’s worth to try (without entering my credit card number). Just like Jeju Air, open with Explorer, install ActiveX, register and disable pop-up blocker before transaction. Pretty old-fashioned for the nation’s largest airline company. Be aware of several pop-up notifications in Korean. Click OK to response, and click cancel for some pop-ups with 2 options. The system is compatible for credit card payments issued in Korea and overseas. A great option if no other sites work in my computer. But at first, next.

6. Air Busan

image credit: http://www.airbusan.com

I said to myself that Air Busan would be my last attempt, otherwise I’ll get back to Korean Air or get one from the airport. My effort eventually paid off. It works with all search engines and it approves payment with both local and foreign credit cards! Remember to register, fill all the columns no matter how unnecessary it seems, specifically in contact address section, and make sure that there’s no spacing between first and middle name. It’s also a bit strange that it doesn’t ask your travelling partner’s ID, but no need to sweat it (I hope).

I was extremely panic when my line was suddenly cut off in the middle of the payment process, yet still succeeded in the end. Next? Eureka!

THE SYSTEM OR THE COMPUTER?

One more strange thing. I experienced in one of the airlines (I forget) mentioned above that I failed to proceed my purchase because my name and my partner’s don’t sound like Jet Li or Park Ji-Sung. The system does not recognize western names like Kristen Steward or Robert Pattinson (may be K Stew or R-Patz work?).

I have no information whether Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese and many other foreign residents have problems with Korean flight bookings. In my case, is it about the system or my computer? Yet so far, I’ve never had any troubles with European online bookings.

How about you? Have you had similar problems, may be apart from Korean airlines? How do you cope with them?