Hi all, it’s been a while since I’ve dropped a line here. I wanted to share the details of my recent trip to Thailand and Cambodia and share some tips and tours we’ve done while there. This first post will go over the routing and hotels we stayed at. Tomorrow I will go over some tours and excursions, and then a post about navigating Bangkok via public transportation will follow.
My wife and I traveled to southeast Asia back in November 2014, and we booked the trip prior to the United Airlines devaluation (change of award pricing for United vs. flights on Star Alliance partners). We used 130,000 miles each to fly the entire itinerary in first and business class.
The primary purpose of the trip was to visit Thailand and Cambodia. In addition, we wanted to try some premium first-class products, such as Thai Airways first class, Turkish Airlines business class and lounge, business class on Lufthansa, and Eva’s business class.
As you will see shortly, the routi’ng that I chose is not the most direct, and it is the routing that inspired Angelina’s post about giving up on helping family book award travel. Either way, this trip inspired me to learn how to book my own complex awards.
In short, the routing looked like this:
1) JFK-TPE-HKG-HKT (stopover)-BKK (destination)
2) BKK-REP-BKK on Bangkok Air (using the Japan Airlines special, see below)
Dad Quick Tip: Believe it or not, the short flight to Cambodia is very expensive, at ~$345 r/t. Japan Airlines has a little-known great promotion for 5,000 JAL miles round trip. Getting JAL miles is easy since Starwood points transfer to JAL. This promotional pricing seems to be good until March 31, 2016.
On our return trip, we got to experience 3 great airlines:
a) BKK-MUC: Thai first class experience, including a free massage at the legendary Thai Airways first class lounge.
b) MUC-IST: Lufthansa business class with downtime at the amazing Turkish Airways business class lounge.
c) IST-BOS: Turkish business class (one of my favorite flights).
In Bangkok, all of the hotels we stayed at were close to BTS stations (Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, Park Plaza Soi 18 and the Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam).
For the Marriot stay we used annual our free night certificate. The hotel was great.
We used Club Carlson points for the Park Plaza Soi 18 to get the “BOGO” free night benefit. In in my opinion, Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card is one of the best hotel credit cards. The cost for 2 nights was 28,000 points and it was in a good location. There were a lot of cheap eateries and massage places on block.
I actually paid about $65 a night for 2 nights at the Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam. What’s even better was that I received 50,000 IHG points after my stay here. They upgraded us to high floor with a great view of the city, and the BTS station was a block away. I really liked this hotel.
For Phuket, we spent 2 nights at the Millennium Resort Patong Phuket for $40 a night (ended up being a mistake-rate booking). The next 2 nights were at the Radisson Blu Plaza Resort Phuket Panwa Beach for a total of 44,000 Club Carlson points.
Lastly, in Cambodia, we paid about $50 a night at the Villa Medamrei, which was a local 3-star property.
Thanks to maximizing points and miles, we were able to save thousands of dollars on our flights and accommodations, allowing us to “splurge” on the things that really mattered – the tours, excursions, and experiences. Stay tuned tomorrow for a detailed report about that!