Thailand 2014: Introduction

Upon popular request, I’m going to start this trip report now, even though I have a backlog of other stuff that I want to write up. I’ll do my best to churn this out quickly, since there are going to be a LOT of parts. Yes, I’m completely guilty of the 20+ part trip report. Deal with it.

I booked this trip a looong time ago. As in 331 days out when I could first book the outbound flight with AA miles. Since I was traveling with a friend, I wanted to make sure to snag award space as soon as it opened and not leave things to chance.

My routing was SFO-HKG-BKK on Cathay First and Business for the outbound (with a free one-way of JFK-SFO tagged on a while ago) using 67,500 American miles, then BKK-HKG-ICN-JFK-SFO on Thai First, Asiana Business, Asiana First, and United Business on the way back for 70,000 United miles pre-devaluation. I specifically chose these flights and carriers since I knew that they all released space when the schedules opened 11 months in advance and that they release at least 2 first class award seats for the flights that I wanted. Since this was a two-week long trip, I wanted to go to more than just Bangkok, so I planned to Chiang Mai and Koh Samui as well. To travel within Thailand, I booked an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, and then flights on Bangkok Airways to get to/from Koh Samui.

Final routing
Final routing

All of the hotels on this trip were paid for using points: 4 nights at the Millennium Hilton in Bangkok for 102,000 Hilton points (pre-deval GLON award, although this hotel is still only 30k per night); 4 nights at Le Meridien Chiang Mai for 15,000 SPG points (one night was a weekend night); and 4 nights at the Conrad Koh Samui for 145,000 HIlton points (pre-deval AXON award).

The out-of-pocket cost for this 2-week trip was less than $1000 per person, and about half of the cost was for the overpriced Bangkok Airways flights (there really aren’t many good ways to get from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui except flying). This miles and points hobby truly is amazing, since this was by far the most luxurious vacation I’ve taken, and it’s crazy to me to think that it cost so little (relatively) to get such wonderful experiences.

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