life & love · travel

Jetsetting with Jenn & Ken: How We Planned An Epic Asian Adventure in Less than a Week {Part 1}

Hey Everyone! Ken here!

I’m so excited to take over the blog today to tell you about our upcoming epic Asian Adventure.

Next week Jenn and I are headed to Asia for three weeks. This trip has been on our wish list for quite some time – and it’s amazing to think our trip is almost here. We wanted to create a series on the blog to share a ton of useful tips and tricks that helped us plan a worldwide adventure in just one week!

Location

Southeast Asia!!!  Why, you ask?  I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Thailand over 10 times in my lifetime.  My father is from there and we have a lot of family members living in Bangkok.  Every time I went, I can’t want to come back and experience everything over again.  When I was younger, we would travel to the remote islands off the coast and stay in these lavish hotels.  I still remember some of the hotels we visited but I never really appreciated until I was older.  I am very fortunate to have such awesome parents who wanted to experience such trips with my brother and I.  And while Jenn has never been to Thailand, she always talks about the amazing experiences she had visiting the Philippines and Indonesia. If you’ve ever been to Asia you’ll know the level of service is next to none.  Given how much Jenn loved her previous trips, it seemed only fitting to take her to the motherland and experience it all together!

Now What

So now that we have our destination location locked down, we had to figure out how to get there.  In the past, I’ve always used miles to fly to Thailand.  Using my Citi AA card, I saved up quite a few miles at a time to fly business on Cathay Pacific or JAL.  For someone like me, flying around the world in business or first class is literally one of the highlights of the trip!  Being able to lay flat in complete comfort and experience amazing food is next to none!  Interested in learning how we got nearly-free business class seats for our trip around the world? I’ve outlined the following cards we used to get points!

AMEX Premier Gold – I’ve been a cardholder for a long time as this card gives you 3x points on all travel-related expenses (hotel/flights), 2x points on gas and grocery, 1x points on everything else.  The only bummer is since I’ve had this card for so long, I did not have any available “bonus” miles remaining.

Citi Premier – Not to be dramatic, but this card has changed my life. Have you ever heard of the “credit card game?” A few friends of mine and I talk about it often – how to use credit card incentives and sign-up bonuses to maximize the benefit you receive. A buddy of mine who also plays this fun game mentioned this card and I’ve since convinced about 20 friends and family to join as well. I can literally write an entire blog post about this card, and what it took to get it, but I’ll save you that and summarize: 3x Travel, 2x on entertainment, 1x on everything else! I also got a signup bonus of 50,000 miles.

Chase Reserve – Okay okay, I know I just raved about the Citi Premier card, but THIS CARD is the mother of all cards! If you are reading this post and you know me, you already know how much I LOVE this card. 3x points on travel and 3X POINTS ON DINING! No other card gives you 3x points on dining out. You rack up SERIOUS points with this benefit. Not only that, they ran a promotion that gave you a 100,000 point sign-up bonus!! Jenn got her own card as well, so ended up with a combined 200,000 points which was MORE than enough to book our trip.

Deciding on an Airline and Setting an Itinerary 

Now that we racked up A TON of points, we needed to decide which airline to fly. If you have read The Points Guy religiously like I have, you know he’s CONSTANTLY cashing in  points to book award flights in the most lavish of ways.  A quick flight search from LAX to any Asian country will spit out the big names like Cathay, Emirates, Etihad, and Singapore Airlines.

The link I had between my AMEX, Citi, and Chase cards… were that they ALL transferred to the K Flyers Singapore Airlines program!  And so began the very daunting task to secure our around-the-world flights on Singapore airlines!

While we knew our end destination, we had NO idea what our options were to get there!  Since Singapore airlines doesn’t have a direct flight to Bangkok, we had the choice of extending our layover in whichever location we landed in!  And maybe I’m biased, but I happen to consider Japan one of the BEST places in the world. Konichiwa Tokyo and Kyoto!

After Japan, we’ll be flying to Bangkok, Thailand to visit the fam and start our exciting Thailand journey!

Our Plan

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Our first stop will be Chiang Mai. Despite all my Thailand travel, I’ve actually never been to Chiang Mai.  My family always loved the beach/coastal scenery and never ventured north to the jungle.  There is a ton to do while in Chiang Mai – and while we don’t want to schedule too many activities initially, Jenn is particularly excited to see elephants and take a traditional Thai cooking class.

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Next up is Phuket. On the heels of a recommendation from my cousin, we did some research into Sri Panwa..  Not only has the roof top bar been voted as one of the best in the world, but the photos we’ve seen are beyond  extraordinary, so we cannot WAIT to get there!

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The last Thai island we’re visiting will be Koh Samui.  Before I even muttered the words, where are we going while in Thailand?  Jenn had known about the Conrad Koh Samui.  She saw it on blogs, had friends visit on their honeymoon, and saw tons of photos on IG of breathtaking weddings taking place at the resort. Like Sri Panwa, the pictures are just stunning.  I almost didn’t want to island hop in favor of spending more time in one location, but the idea of bouncing from hotel to hotel meant we wouldn’t get tired of one location (if that’s even possible).

Ending our Thai adventure in Bangkok.  Given so much of my father’s family lives in Thailand – and has never met Jenn – our last 3 nights will be spent at home.  I’m excited to take Jenn around to all the shops and fun restaurants – not to mention I have an amazing tailor there who makes the best fitting button downs in the world!!

I hope you found this post informative (the credit card game is crucial to getting the biggest bang for your buck when booking epic vacations such as ours!)  and I hope you’re all excited to follow Jenn and I along on our journey. I’m new to writing blog posts so I’ll be leaning on my better half to help me out.  We look forward to sharing more tips and tricks, along with recaps of our experience flying business class around the world for next to nothing, and two of my most favorite countries (and the many cities within them!) in the world. Whether you’re planning a solo trip, honeymoon, or anything in between, I hope our post series helps you make the smartest decisions while maximizing your experience.

Thanks for following along!

Ken

Part 2…coming soon!

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