Updated on February 19, 2016
How We Did a 20 Day Honeymoon To 4 Countries
For Practically Nothing
WHAT IS THIS?
Welcome to the 1st part of my trip report about how we went on a 20-day luxury honeymoon to Asia using miles and points.
TRIP REPORT INDEX
We recently returned from our 20 day honeymoon to Asia and paid for almost everything using miles and points. It was really amazing to be able to visit some of these places where I would normally not be able to afford. A lot of planning went into this trip as well as a good amount of miles and points but as you will soon find out, it was all very worth it. I first wrote about this trip over a year ago and the planning started when Hilton devalued their points in 2013 and I had a million points burning a hole in my pocket.
At that point I found and booked the most expensive Hilton properties I could find and then I had to wait a year before award flights were released.
This may seem like an impossible amount of miles and points to many people but with some good planning, many people would be able to do a similar trip.
I used a total of 240,000 United miles instead of paying $20,000 for the business class flights. For the hotels, I used a total 363,000 points instead of paying $10,500 cash. By using miles and points, we were able to take an incredible honeymoon worth over $30,000.
|1||NYC||None / Late flight|
|2||Hanoi||Hanoi Vietnam – Sheraton|
|3||Hanoi||Hanoi Vietnam – Sheraton|
|4||Hanoi||Hanoi Vietnam – Sheraton|
|5||Hanoi||Hanoi Vietnam – Sheraton|
|6||Langkawi||The Andaman, Langkawi, Malaysia|
|7||Langkawi||The Andaman, Langkawi, Malaysia|
|8||Langkawi||The Andaman, Langkawi, Malaysia|
|9||Langkawi||The Andaman, Langkawi, Malaysia|
|10||Langkawi||The Andaman, Langkawi, Malaysia|
|11||Singapore||Singapore – Intercontinental|
|12||Singapore||Singapore – Intercontinental|
|13||Singapore||Singapore – Intercontinental|
|14||Male, Maldives||LVIS Boutique, Male, Maldives|
|15||Rangali Island||Maldives – Conrad Rangali|
|16||Rangali Island||Maldives – Conrad Rangali|
|17||Rangali Island||Maldives – Conrad Rangali|
|18||Rangali Island||Maldives – Conrad Rangali|
|19||Rangali Island||Maldives – Conrad Rangali|
|20||Male, Maldives||Newtown Inn, Hulhumale, Maldives|
|21||Late flight||None / Late Flight|
MUST DO's & ITINERARY ADJUSTMENTS
Taking off this many days from work was not easy. Here are the changes I would make if I had less or more time:
Need a shorter itinerary?
- Singapore: remove 2 nights from Singapore. 1 night was required to ensure we didn't miss the flight to the Maldives. It was fun but my least favorite destination in this itinerary (although I am in NYC almost every day, so I don't usually seek out cities on vacation).
- Vietnam: I had the option to fly to Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon) for the same number of points. I would have easily given up a couple of days in Vietnam for more time in the other locations or all together if I didn't have as much time.
- Maldives: Remove the last night in Male. I had to stay due to the award flight schedule I had locked in and I wasn't able to book an additional night at the Conrad Maldives (it was sold out that one night out of the entire week).
Must Do's – longer itinerary?
Adding 1 more night each at The Andaman Langkawi and The Conrad Maldives would have been the perfect length. I left feeling like I could have stayed one more day without getting bored.
- Langkawi: I would add 1 more night to enjoy the resort a little more and try another restaurant outside the resort.
- Maldives: I would add 1 more night to enjoy the incredible views and water. Everywhere you turn is a photo opp.
- Vietnam: If I had at least 3 days extra, I would consider adding a visit to Ho Chi Minh City but only after adding a day in Langkawi and Maldives. That would bring this trip to 25 days which is a stretch.
HOW I BOOKED THE ITINERARY
This itinerary was booked in business class using 120,000 United Miles + $357 in taxes/fees per person.
The Star Alliance booking was JFK-TPE-HAN <2 week stopover/open jaw> SIN-MLE-IST-WAW-JFK. That meant I had to find my own way from Hanoi (HAN) to Singapore (SIN) which I did with cheap Air Asia flights.
Maldives is one of the most difficult places to get to using miles. This itinerary cannot be booked online because Singapore Air flights do not appear on United.com. Also, the United reps think that United miles cannot be redeemed for Singapore Air flights. They are wrong. If a rep tells you it cannot be done, ask them to double check with their supervisor. My original plan was to route through Istanbul which would have saved me ~$300 per person but someone else grabbed the award seats before I could book them.
HOW I EARNED ENOUGH MILES & POINTS
- 240,000 United Miles: This was the most important piece of the puzzle. We earned most of the points by getting the Chase Ink Bold Sign up Bonuses which transfer 1:1 to United. I wrote about a new Chase Ink Plus 60k sign up bonus mile offer offer recently. If you and your significant other both gets this card, you have more than half of the miles needed already (120k bonus + 10k points from spending). That's 130k Ultimate Rewards points so far which equals 130k United Miles. We also got a bonus from the United card. If two people sign up for the current United Mileage Explorer Visa, you can earn 55k United miles each, for a total of 110k. 130k + 110k = 240k. The price has now gone up to 140k per person for a combined total of 280k. There are some business award seats available for this Nov/Dec!
- 63,000 Starwood Points: We signed up for the Starwood American Express 30k Bonus offers (link to a post I wrote a while back). Since they offer a business and personal card, one person could easily sign up for two card and get more than enough points.
- 100,000 IHG Points: The IHG credit card has offered a 80k sign up bonus in the past which also includes 1 free night at any hotel. The current IHG sign up bonus is 70k points. You can find the offer by clicking this link (affiliate link), then clicking “Airline & Frequent Flyer Credit Card Offers.” The direct non-affiliate link shows either a 60k or 70k sign up bonus. Thank you in advance if you use my affiliate link!
- 200,000 Hilton Points: I earned a million Hilton points from living in hotels for 3 years back when I used to travel for work. Unfortunately, Hilton severely devalued their points (The Conrad Maldives is now 95,000 points per night!) but the best way to stay at the Conrad would be to for two people to each get the Hilton Reserve card (I last wrote about last month) and you each get 2 free weekend nights. This would give you 3 days for free (Fri/Sat/Sun), though I would not go for only 3 days so there are other ways to get more stays. I think the new rate of 95,000 points per night is ridiculous and I would not recommend trying to save up enough points unless it's for one or two nights.
FLIGHT COST SUMMARY (per person)
The business class flights (not including the short Air Asia flights) for the would have cost $10,000 per person if I paid cash. Instead of cash, I paid 120,000 miles plus $629 per person. Amount saved $20,000. Thank you miles!!
*This does not include the seaplane transfer to the Conrad Maldives which cost $560 per person.
|#||Flight||Airline||Cash Pd||Miles Pd||Regular Price|
|1||JFK-TPE Lv 12:20am Ar 5:30am +1 day||Eva Air||$357||120,000||$10,000|
|2||TPE-HAN Lv 9:30am/Ar 11:35am||Eva Air||included|
|3||HAN-KUL Lv 9am/Ar 1:15pm||Air Asia||$139||$139.00|
|4||KUL-LGK Lv 3:30pm/Ar 4:30pm||Air Asia||$34||$34.30|
|5||LGK-SIN Lv 8:55am/Ar 10:20am||Air Asia||$99||$98.53|
|6||SIN-MLE Lv 8:35pm Ar 10:10pm||Singapore Air||included|
|7||MLE-IST Lv 11:50pm||Turkish Air||included|
|IST Ar: 5:30am
IST-WAW Lv 12:25pm/Ar 1:55pm
WAW-JFK Lv 4:45pm/Ar 8:25pm
|TOTAL (per person)||$629||120,000||$10,272|
HOTEL COST SUMMARY
These hotels would have cost over $10,500. Instead of cash, I paid a total of 363,000 points (not including two cheap hotels). Note that the price for the Conrad Maldives has skyrocketed to 95,000 Hilton
Dis-HHonors points per night after the devaluation.
|Day||Hotel||Program||Actual Cash Pd||Points Pd||Reg Price||Point Value|
|5||The Andaman, Langkawi||SPG||$0||9,600||$320||0.033|
|6||The Andaman, Langkawi||SPG||$0||9,600||$320||0.033|
|7||The Andaman, Langkawi||SPG||$0||9,600||$320||0.033|
|8||The Andaman, Langkawi||SPG||$0||9,600||$320||0.033|
|9||The Andaman, Langkawi||SPG||$0||9,600||$320||0.033|
|13||LVIS Boutique, Male, Maldives||$95||0||$95||Paid Cash|
|19||Newtown Inn, Hulhumale, Maldives||$83||0||$83||Paid Cash|
*I used the IHG credit card free night at the Intercontinental Singapore.
TOTAL CASH SPENT
We spent a total of about $4,700 cash on this trip. Ok, it's not nothing it's not much for what we got. The largest cash expenses were ~$700 for the taxes/fees for the award flight, the seaplane transfer to the Conrad Maldives ($560 per person), ~$550 for the short Air Asia flights about $200 for 2 nights at Hotels that I could not use points, ~$200 for a car rental in Langkawi. The rest was spent on food, tours, and transportation.