You're best off buying the R3 Hong Kong gift set anyway... it can be ordered from YesAsia for $60 shipped, which is only $9 more than the US version, and it contains the extended cut in DTS audio, something that won't be released in R1. The box set is also much nicer looking, the US gift set is cheesy looking-too graphically intense.
Multi Region Players are available from many online sellers for about the price of a basic 1 region single player. I bought one not knowing it was from my local K-Mart for 35 bucks a year or so ago. I was so excited when I learned it was (it played some discs that I was waiting for another player for), that I went back to that K-Mart to find 2 more, 1 for my other room so my aging father can watch other region stuff without going into my room and 1 for a friend who wanted to start buying discs from England. I failed. A few weeks later, I found it online at a store whose offline reputation was well known when I was a kid growing up in New York. Bought 2 there, same price, no shipping had em in less than a week. Put 1 in my living room, and gave 1 to my friend as planned. Yahoooooo!