- Sheraton Saigon and Hilton Hanoi Opera
- Overnight Trip to Ha Long Bay
- Hiking Through Sapa
- Sofitel Metropole Hanoi and Park Hyatt Saigon
- Thai Airways F to Hong Kong
- Exploring Hong Kong
Lisa had just started her 2nd year of business school, and one night while we were talking, she casually asked if we should take a trip for spring break. I thought to myself, what the heck is spring break? Then I remembered, it's the week-long break I used to get each year in college, along with the three month summer break, and month and a half winter break. I started to wax nostalgic about the good ol' days, and next thing I knew we had a spring break trip planned.
At this point, we were obviously way too old for a Daytona Beach/Mexico trip, so we instead decided to visit each other's "motherlands". I had always wanted to visit Vietnam, and Lisa had wanted to see Hong Kong. I had just made 1K for the first time the year before, and was excited to have the opportunity to burn 4 of my systemwide upgrades to upgrade us from economy to business class. The popular SFO-HKG route didn't have any confirmable upgrade space available, so instead I agreed to backtrack to Chicago to meet her, after which we'd fly ORD-HKG-SGN, and then back HKG-ORD-SFO. The reason for the open jaw was that adding a stopover in Hong Kong significantly increased the price of the ticket, so instead I figured I'd use miles to get us from SGN-HKG, which I did and was able to book my first ever international first class experience on Thai Airways routing SGN-BKK-HKG.
I had been in the points/miles game for about a year at this point, and had focused my energy on accumulating airline miles and status. However, as I began searching for hotels to stay in during the trip, especially in Hong Kong the costs were routinely $200+ and even as high as $400-$500. We still had about 6 months until the trip, so it gave me the opportunity to get into the hotel points game as well, and was quite pleased that on a 12 night trip, we only paid for 4 nights of lodging of which 2 were on a train (no Amtrak loyalty program in Vietnam), 1 was on a boat (hard to find a loyalty program for that), and 1 at a non-mainstream chain that I absolutely wanted to stay in. Gotta love those credit card sign-up bonuses!