29 Days, 18 flights, 12 hotels & 5 countries using @USAirways & @StarwoodBuzz points/miles!

It’s that time again! Time to plan out my annual December vacation.   This year, unlike other years, I’m spending a little bit more money on hotels and flights than I typically do.   In the past, I’ve picked one or two countries and two or three hotels to maximize points redemption.  I love taking advantage of the 5th night free whenever possible.   This year, it just didn’t work out that way.

In December, I’ll be spending two weeks on my own and two weeks with colleagues.  I have 29 nights and a very full itinerary.  I’d love some suggestions of places to eat and things to do in Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam! I’ve pretty much got Thailand and Singapore down.

Here’s my itinerary:

  • Day 1 & 2 – Los Angeles, hopefully spending a day or two with my favorite cousins.
    • Airline –  US Airways First class from Charleston
    • Hotel – I haven’t confirmed a hotel yet, but I’m hoping to book the SLS
  • Day 3 & 4 – LA to Singapore
    • Airline –  Air China First Class from LAX to PEK and Singapore Airlines Business class  PEK to SIN- it’s only a two cabin plane.
  • Day 5 – 7 – Singapore
    • Hotel – Sheraton Towers Singapore.  I am hoping to switch to the brand new W hotel if a Cash & Points rate becomes available. Otherwise, I’ll stick with the Sheraton.
  • Day 8 – 10 – Langkawi, Malaysia
    • Airline –  AirAsia from SIN to LGK, coach
    • Hotel – The Andaman, A Luxury Collection hotel
  • Day 11  – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    • Airline – AirAsia from LGK to KUL, coach
    • Hotel – Ritz Carlton KL
  • Day 12 – 14 – Siem Reap, Cambodia
    • Airline – Malaysia Airlines from KUL to REP coach
    • Hotel – Le Meridien Angkor
  • Day 15  – Singapore
    • Airline – Singapore Airlines from REP – SIN  Business Class
    • Hotel – St Regis Singapore (I wish I could have found this rate for the first part of my trip in Singapore!)
  • Day 16 – 20 – Bangkok
    • Airline – Singapore Airlines from SIN to BKK  Business Class
    • Hotel –  Split between Plaza Athenee and St Regis Bangkok.  If a good rate becomes available at the new W Bangkok, I may switch from the Plaza Athenee.
  • Day 21 – 23  – Vietnam
    • Airline – Turkish Airlines from BKK to SGN, coach
    • Hotel – Sheraton Saigon Towers
  • Day 24 – Bangkok
    • Airline – Turkish Airlines from SGN to BKK, coach
    • Hotel – Novotel at the airport (quick overnight)
  • Day 25 – 27- Krabi, Thailand
    • Airline – Thai Airways from BKK to Krabi, coach
    • Hotel – Sheraton Krabi
  • Day 28 – Bangkok
    • Airline – Thai Airways from Krabi to BKK, coach
    • Hotel – TBD – if I don’t stay at the W Bangkok earlier in the trip, then I will definitely make this night at the W
  • Day 29 – Bangkok to LA
    • Airline – Thai Airways from BKK to PEK First class and Air China from PEK to LAX  First Class, US Airways from LAX to CHS first class.

The costs:

As I said earlier, I typically like to spend as little money as possible on my vacations.  I usually spend all my points/miles earned in a year on one massive year-end vacation.  This year is a little different because there are so many countries, so many flights and so many hotel involved.

Airfare:

  • Frequent Flyer ticket 160,000 US Air miles and $92 in taxes for first class (thanks to Gary at View From The Wing and his award booking service for helping me book this beyond complex ticket! Flying from Charleston is not easy!)
    • Charleston, SC to Charlotte, NC  – US Airways
    • Charlotte, NC to Los Angeles, CA  – US Airways
    • Los Angeles, CA to Beijing China – Air China
    • Beijing to Singapore – Singapore Airline
    • Singapore to Bangkok – Singapore Airlines
    • Bangkok to Beijing – Thai Airways
    • Beijing to LA – Air China
    • LA to Charlotte – US Airways
    • Charlotte to Charleston, SC (home!) – US Airways
  • Air Asia
    • Singapore to Langkawi – $7.59 plus taxes and fees = $79
    • Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur –  $14 plus taxes and fees = $66
  • Malaysia Airlines
    • Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap – $128
  •  Singapore Airlines
    • Siem Reap to Singapore – $231
  • Turkish Airways
    • Bangkok to Ho Chi Mien City round trip – $225
  • Thai Airways
    • Bangkok to Krabi round trip – $195
Total Airfare = $1016
Hotels:
  • Sheraton Towers Singapore – 14,000 points and $270
  • Andaman, A Luxury Collection Hotel – 14,000 points and $270
  • Le Meridien Angkor – 6,400 points and $120
  • St Regis Singapore – 8,000 points and $150
  • Plaza Athenee – 5,600 points and $90
  • St Regis Bangkok – 24,000 + $265
  • Sheraton Saigon – 9,000 points and $180
  • Sheraton Krabi – 8,400 points and $135
  • Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur – 30,000 points
Total Hotel = $1375 – my goal is to reduce the costs of the hotels by $800 or more so I end up spending around $500 out of pocket!  I currently have 20,000 SPG points left and 75,000 Marriott points.   So, I may switch some of the more expensive stays over to points or look for better Cash & Points deals.
All in all, it’s really not a ton of out-of-pocket for an amazing 29 night vacation!  Even if I do spend $2300 out of pocket for airfare and hotels, it’s a fraction of what this vacation would cost without the benefits of points/miles!
For a simple comparison, I did a basic pricing of a similar itinerary without using points/miles
Charleston to Singapore, first class – $16,499
Southeast Asia Airfare – $1016 (that would remain the same as on my current itinerary)
Hotels – here’s what my hotel choices would cost w/out the use of points  (I used the lowest flexible rate as opposed to a pre-paid rate for comparison as I would never book a pre-paid rate)
  • Sheraton Towers Singapore – $346/night or $1038 for 3 nights
  • Andaman, A Luxury Collection Hotel – $315/night  or $945 for 3 nights
  • Le Meridien Angkor – $176/night or $704 for 4 nights
  • St Regis Singapore – $378 for 1 night
  • Plaza Athenee – $140/night or $420 for 3 nights
  • St Regis Bangkok – $243/night or $487 for two nights
  • Sheraton Saigon – $134/night or $402 for 3 nights
  • Sheraton Krabi – $330/night or $1320 for 4 nights (This is over New Years Eve, hence the more expensive price)
  • Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur – $154/night for 1 night
Total for hotels w/out points = $5848
So all in all, this vacation would cost $23,363 without the use of points!   I think a $23,000 vacation for $2,300 is not a bad deal at all! I certainly would not be taking this vacation if I had to shell out $23,000!
Please share you ideas for Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam!

29 Comments on "29 Days, 18 flights, 12 hotels & 5 countries using @USAirways & @StarwoodBuzz points/miles!"

  1. Just curious, did you break up your time in Singapore & Bangkok on purpose or is that just how it worked out?

  2. @New Girl – it’s just how it worked out. Since my frequent flyer ticket stop over is Singapore, I had to work around that for the rest of the destinations. Had I planned a little better, i would have gone straight to Malaysia and then spent 3 days in Singapore on the end.

  3. @Stacey, still sounds like an awesome trip!

  4. Is the “frequent flyer” ticket something like the oneworld tix where you can fly distance based?

  5. @Mike – not sure what you mean, I’m not familiar with OneWorld. If you mean that the mileage you spend is based upon the region you’re flying to, then yes. If you mean actual distance, then no.

  6. johnmoorenow | August 12, 2012 at 11:20 am |

    Great choices! In KL, i too stayed at the RC which has some amazing corporate rates ($95 with upgrade to Club) but later wished that I would have stayed at the Shangri-La. Best wishes for safe travels!

  7. Basically im trying to understand how you can spend only 160miles and stop so much. Oneworld ticket allows you to fly to wherever you want as long as you fly within a limited total miles. So im wondering if usairways has something similar or are these tickets booked individually and totalled at 160k. Hope im expressing myself clearly. I did just wake up. Lol

  8. @Stacey, AA offers two different types of awards. Once is a standard award chart, based on traveling from one region to another. The other is a “oneworld explorer” award, which is priced based on the total distance flown, with a few extra restrictions on a qualifying itinerary. It can sometimes be cheaper than a standard redemption; I’m using one in December to fly to Morocco, normally an award that is 135K AA miles in biz but through the separate award chart, my total mileage flown is in a bracket that prices at just 80K miles.

  9. @New Girl – what a deal! That’s awesome. Sounds like another reason I want US Air and American to merge!

  10. @new girl, so is this the similar way stacey booked her ticket?

  11. @Mike – I booked by region – First Class to South East Asia is 160k.
    My trip is from Charleston to Singapore (with lots of layovers – no stop-overs) stop-over in Singapore (which is allowed) and then onto Bangkok where I will then return to US
    That’s a standard first class award on US Air
    The rest of the stops (as outlined in the post) are paid w/cash on low fare carriers in SE Asia

  12. johnmoorenow | August 12, 2012 at 11:41 am |

    To reduce flight costs, could you capitalize on the 4,500 Avios one way redemption for some of your in region flights? You can transfer your UR to BA and book via them.

  13. @JohnMooreNow – That would have been a good idea if I hadn’t already booked. Wonder if the Vietnam or Cambodia legs can be cancelled….
    I also looked at just using Ultimate Rewards (UR) points to book some of them directly, but in the end, didn’t think using the UR points that way was the best option.

  14. johnmoorenow | August 12, 2012 at 11:47 am |

    If you booked in the last 24 hours or some of those in region do have a very small cancellation (under $5), I would check it out. Does Korean have any sweet spots in their award chart? You could always transfer some UR there as well. On the KL RC, if you can book that under $100, I would consider redeploying those 30,000 MR points to reduce some of your other hotels. 30,000 vs. $100 would be a tough redemption for me.

  15. @Johnmoorenow – no, only the AirAsia tix were booked in the last 24-48 hours. The rest have been booked a while. I think one might have been a flexi fare though.
    Good thought on the MR points though. I guess I really could use those in Singapore which would leave me with more SPG points to use!

  16. If you don’t have one, you need to get a Thailand Starwood Privilege card. Aug 31 is the last day to get one. Program is ending. You can get it from the Royal Orchid Sheraton or Westin Grand. Even though it’s a lower category hotel, I like the Royal Orchid. They have a private boat the takes you directly to the sky train and a great view of the river from every room. The Privilege card comes with 1 free night hotel voucher and a voucher for 2 buffets, which pays for it’s $187 fee. After that, all food is 50% off (for party of 2) and 20% beverages at all Starwood Asia Pacific hotels listed on their website (most of them sans W and SR).

  17. You are spending more than half of your vacation on a flight or in security lines!

  18. Looks like an awesome trip – wish I had the time for a similar burn!

  19. @PatMike – I stay at the Royal Orchid for work – that’s where I earn 1/2 my points probably! I will check out the card now! Thanks for the tip!

    @ASen – yes, it’s a lot of flights, but I want to see a lot of places this time around. Luckily security isn’t so bad in Asia.

    @Matt – Thanks! The plus and minus of saving all your vacation…you’re crazy by the end of the year and really need a vacation. But on the plus, you have a lot of time for a crazy vacation!

  20. Wow, what a fantastic December!!!

  21. Bangkok and Siem Reap are the two places I’m planning to visit in January. Looking forward to reading your reports.
    I would love your site more if the background is not in black.

  22. @JoC – thanks for the suggestion of the color scheme. Maybe I’ll take a vote someday.

  23. If you can, change your Sheraton Hotels and Towers in Singapore to another hotel. That hotel is inconveniently located, old and has pretty rude staff. I speak from experience having stayed there last month.

  24. I had an OK stay at the Sheraton. It’s close to the subway and staff was OK. We did walk to the shopping malls from there.
    If something else opens up, I agree – go for it, but it will be OK to stay there.
    BTW – there is a government building across the street from The Sheraton that has a VERY CHEAP food court, just up the escalator. Nothing fancy, but interesting local food and good coffee. Kind of a tourist experience in itself.
    We went to “the Clinic” for a “drink”. Google it.

  25. GREAT looking trip. Quick question, though – where does one find Gary’s award booking service? I poked around VFtW and couldn’t find anything that looked like an award booking service…am I missing it? Or was Gary just doing you a personal favor? 🙂

  26. @David – looks like my hyperlinks aren’t underlining! Here’s the link //www.bookyouraward.com/
    Gary offers a great award booking service!

  27. @PatMike – how were the rooms at the Sheraton?

  28. Vin Pearl Resort in Nha Trang is fantastic. My hometown too 😛 Maybe you can fly on that airline that was fined for having bikini clad dancers!

  29. Sheraton Singapore was totally fine. Had a good view and a comfortable room. Could easily walk to the main shopping malls. I would only chose the Sheraton for the rate, as there are definitely better locations/properties. We basically stayed there for the points and cash rate.
    Very informative concierge. We took the bus to Westin KL from Singapore and concierge was very helpful.
    I LOVED the room at the Westin KL. Great view of the towers ! Left the curtains open all night to gawk at the towers from bed !

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