AMD Damo wrote:
Sydney is full of middle easterners causing trouble, daily shootings, Cairns is full of drunk yokels, hot/humid and prone to cyclones, Melbourne is an old **** hole with illusion of "character" which is just old graffiti'd buildings, with coffee places charging $5 for a cup of coffee full of wankers in skinny jeans and 80s sunglasses, or junkies pestering you for money at the train station.
I could say the same things about New York, Myrtle Beach, and Boston (all places I've lived). I'm sure I've lived in far more dangerous places (aside from the 3 cities listed, I also lived in Newark, NJ). So I am not a dumb/unprepared tourist, and will take appropriate precautions.
If you are keeping costs down you are probably better off booking flights and stays separately. If you can, plan your own itinerary by reading up postings on travel sites for ideas. Go to each airline's and hotel chain's sites (accorhotels.com has lots of AsiaPac specials now) where prices and terms are usually driven to the lowest. That said, if you have VISA you can try http://www.hotelclub.com/visa
and may find better deals than at the usual agoda expedia asiatravel hotel_com.
Hm - my experience was different - the bundle sites often had better hotel prices (and access to hotels that other sites were telling me were booked). The VISA hotel club is a good tip though - they seem to have better prices than the big travel sites.
I did end up booking on tripmasters, so let's see how that works out. I felt like I had to pull the trigger because I can see availability constricting (the direct flight I wanted from LAX to SYD booked, and the Holiday Inn I wanted had a major price hike).