Trip Report: 1 Month in Asia for Under $1500

This trip report is for the Asia trip (#chiusdoasia2014) we took last Fall. We spent a total of 23 days in Asia -- visiting Bangkok & Phuket, Thailand; Hong Kong; and Bali, Indonesia. I had purchased our plane tickets in January of 2014, planning to take the trip right after our move from NC to SC. This was perfect timing as we still did not have jobs lined up nor a place in which we had to pay rent, so we threw all our stuff into storage and took off for the month!

Flights

Another reason for purchasing our flights in January of 2014 was because United was devaluing it's points! Business class award redemptions, which were once 120,000 per roundtrip flight, were going up to 160,000 in February! We used our Southwest Companion Pass to fly from SC to San Francisco, where we spent a week with family prior to leaving the country, but also as a "positioning flight" as there are better airlines and more flight availability to Asia out of SFO!

We flew business class on all legs of our flights, as follows: EVA Air from SFO -> Bangkok (BKK), Thai Airways from BKK -> Phuket (HKT), DragonAir from HKT -> Hong Kong (HKG), Cathay Pacific from HKG -> Denpasar, Indonesia (DPS), and EVA Air from DPS -> SFO. For the flights cost breakdown, I essentially mirrored the departure/arrival dates in November of this year with when we were traveling in October of 2014:

United (Redeemed with Star Alliance Partners)

  • SFO -> BKK, BKK -> HKT, DPS -> SFO
  • Our Costs: 240,000 points, $101 for taxes & fees
  • If we had paid in cash, it would've been $14,130.60 x 2 = $28,261.20
  • Benefits: 1 free stop-over and 2 open jaws!

British Airways (Redeemed with OneWorld Alliance Partners)

  • HKT -> HKG, HKG -> DPS
  • Our Costs: 50,000 points (for some reason it was super cheap, normally it should price out to be about 115,000 points), and $193.18 for taxes & fees
  • If we had paid in cash, it would've been 2 x $2,871.36 = $5742.79
  • Benefits: We were able to use BA Avios points to connect our open jaw!

We specifically chose to redeem on United and it's Star Alliance partners to be able to see more destinations while only redeeming for one round trip ticket!

Out-of-Pocket Costs: $294.18

 

Lodging

Again, I did my research using TripAdvisor, and for the most part, the reviews were pretty accurate to what we experienced on our trip! The only drawback was that the Phuket Resort was brand new, so there weren't too many reviews yet. We took a chance, and found out for ourselves -- we would definitely not go back there.

Le Meridien Bangkok

  • Our Cost: Originally 35,000 points (5 x 7,000 points/night), but due to "5th Night Free", came out to 28,000 points (5 x 5,600 points/night)
  • Circular King Room (5 x $172.86/night) + Taxes & Fees = $1,017.30
  • TripAdvisor Review

 

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Hyatt Regency Phuket Resort

  • Our Cost: Free -- used the 4 free nights we got from signing up for the Hyatt Visa
  • Deluxe King Room (4 x $97.68/night) + Taxes & Fees = $463.79
  • In retrospect, we should have saved these 4 free night certificates for a more expensive property

 

The St. Regis Bali Resort

  • Our Cost: Originally 157,500 points (5 x 31,500 points/night), but due to "5th Night Free", came out to 126,000 points (5 x 25,200 points/night)
  • St. Regis Ocean View Suite (5 x $650.44/night) + Taxes & Fees = $3,935.16
  • TripAdvisor Review

 

The crown jewel of our hotel stays was definitely our last destination, The St. Regis Bali Resort. They have an excellent breakfast buffet -- lobster and wagyu beef! -- that comes with the stay, and a highly attentive and superb butler service. We have experienced nothing like it and can't wait to go back!

Out-of-Pocket Costs: $0

 

Transportation

It's so silly, but it seems that wherever we travel, the public transportation is much better compared to our pretty much non-existent public transportation here in the United States! In Bangkok we relied mostly on walking, the metro system and an occasional taxi. Phuket, we primarily stayed at the resort, but did have to shell out some money for the taxi to/from the resort. Hong Kong, again, lots of walking and use of the awesome metro/train system. Bali, it was pure relaxation bliss as we primarily stayed at the resort, but we did have a Mercedes Benz transfer, courtesy of the hotel, to/from the airport.

  • Bangkok: $68.94
  • Phuket: $54.52
  • Hong Kong: $40.61
  • Bali: $0

Out-of-Pocket Costs:   $164.07  

  

Food & Misc.

The best part about Asia is the food! Yes, I still unfortunately have not found a semi-representable Chinese restaurant here in SC yet. Sad. :( We ate especially well in Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Bali. The food was cheap, delicious, and spicy in Bangkok. Phuket did not treat us as well, as the resort food was expensive and the portions small. The food in Hong Kong was reminiscent of my childhood -- dim sum, noodle soup, etc. -- and brought me a great deal of comfort. Finally, the resort at Bali had the most decadent and expensive dining, by far, compared to the rest of the trip. Things I categorized under miscellaneous: tips, attraction fees, water, etc.

  • Bangkok: $237.15
  • Phuket: $119.41

(Would have been $119.41 + $396.22 = $515.63, but we had travel credits that we used to redeem against the $396.22 which equals FREE!)

  • Hong Kong: $438.63

(Would have been $438.63 + $80.55 = $519.18 but again, we had travel credits!)

  • Bali: $237.15

(Would have been $237.15 + $485.24 = $722.39 yes, TRAVEL CREDITSSSS)

Overall, Hong Kong would have been a lot more expensive had we not stayed with my Dad. The hotel costs and additional food costs without him insisting on paying for everything would have been astronomical. We also did a bit more shopping for ourselves and for gifts in Hong Kong, thus the higher out-of-pocket costs.

Out-of-Pocket Costs: $1,032.34

 

Conclusion

We spent 23 days in Southeast Asia, making stops in Bangkok, Phuket, Hong Kong, and Bali, spending a total out-of-pocket cost -- including airfare, ground transportation, food, and other miscellaneous items -- of $1,490.59. If we had not had our airline/hotel points and travel credits, our total out-of-pocket costs would have amounted to $41,578.66! We could have purchased a brand new SUV for that amount of money! The power of miles and points is amazing, isn't it? See more pictures at #chiusdoasia2014!

If you have any questions, please email me or comment below!

 

*If you're interested in learning how to plan a trip like this, earn tons of points, maximize your reward redemptions, and travel for free, click HERE!