Before I get deep into my Vietnam posts, I wanted to show you guys all these extra photos that I have. They span from the month or so after Cairo and before Hong Kong, during which I spent two weeks in Edinburgh and two weeks in California visiting family.
-Carissa “Help Me I Have a Travel Addiction” Rawson
I left off yesterday having arrived fresh off my first class flight to Hong Kong. It honestly was one of the coolest experiences of my life, and one I’m not likely to forget soon, particularly as I’m still wearing their pajamas to bed every night.
I’m extra poor these days, since I’ve been living the student life for a while now. So when I was looking to plan this trip, I needed to make it as money efficient as possible. With that in mind, I took a look at hotel prices in Hong Kong.
They were bleak. Averaging at around ~$300/night, there was no way I could afford to stay in the city. Luckily, I had a couple tricks up my sleeve.
For night one, I used the annual free night certificate that comes with my Chase IHG credit card to stay at the Intercontinental Hong Kong. (The certificate nowadays is capped at a lower hotel, but the card still offers really good value). This hotel regularly goes for ~$400+/night because it’s got one of the best views of Victoria Harbour. I pay $49/year to own this credit card. (I did pay $60 to upgrade to a room with a really good view).
For night two, I used the annual free night certificate that comes with my Chase Hyatt credit card to stay at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong. This certificate is good for any hotel up to category 4, which the Hyatt Regency happens to be, so I was lucky. The new version of this card has a $95 annual fee, and the cost of the Hyatt Regency averages around ~$200/night.
With accommodation taken care of, I needed to figure out what to do for two days.
Now, Harrison here will make fun of me and say that I didn’t see Hong Kong at all. I disagree. I explored the hell out of Hong Kong Disneyland.
I’ve just spent the last two weeks in Vietnam and have now safely arrived to Tel Aviv. For those of you who don’t know, I’m volunteering to teach Arabic at an NGO for the summer while I finish up my Master’s degree. Tel Aviv is a beautiful city, so I’m glad to be here.
Now, before I start telling you guys my adventures about Vietnam (and Hong Kong), I need to tell you all how I got there. This is a points and miles blog as well, after all.
Marriott has what’s called Air and Hotel packages. These cost 270,000 Marriott points, and in return you receive 120,000 frequent flier miles from the airline of your choosing and seven nights at any category 1-5 Marriott hotel. I’m not expanding much on this because as of August first these packages are being highly devalued, so it’s not worth it to spend time discussing these. Suffice to say that I redeemed my points and chose to receive my 120,000 miles into my Alaska Airlines account.
I did this for many reasons, not the least of which is Alaska Airlines’ extremely lucrative partnerships with other airlines, which means you can get a lot of value out of redeeming their miles. Additionally, they’re considered some of the highest value miles (as opposed to, say, Delta), so they’re worth going for even if you’re not located in an area very conducive to Alaska flights. (Like me, in the Middle East).
Alaska has some really good award chart redemptions, (see their chart here for the ‘sweet spots’), and I redeemed 70,000 of my 120,000 miles in order to fly Cathay Pacific first class to Ho Chi Minh with a two day stopover in Hong Kong (Alaska will allow you to make stopovers for free on award flights, which many other airlines don’t do). This one way ticket would have otherwise cost me over $8,000, so I consider these miles well spent.
Cathay Pacific is meant to have some of the best first class services out there, so I was more than a little jazzed to be spending 13 hours on board this flight. I know, I know, who wants to climb onto an airplane for a long ass flight?
And literally everyone else who loves champagne and filet mignon and other fancy whatnots. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy (yes, I’m bragging.):