A 19-Day Trip to Taiwan & Thailand in Business Class, With the Help of Miles & Points

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A 19-Day Trip to Taiwan & Thailand in Business Class, With the Help of Miles & Points

Million Mile SecretsA 19-Day Trip to Taiwan & Thailand in Business Class, With the Help of Miles & PointsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Welcome to the next installment of our Reader Success Series where Million Mile Secrets Readers share how they booked a trip with miles & points to get Big Travel with Small Money!

Carla is our newest reader success story to show folks it’s possible to travel without spending a lot of money.

A 19 Day Trip To Taiwan Thailand In Business Class With The Help Of Miles Points
First Class Seats on Thai Airways

A big thank you to Carla for sharing her story!

Please introduce yourself to everyone and tell us how long you’ve been involved in the miles & points hobby.

My name is Carla Theriot.  

I got involved in miles and points seriously after seeing Randy Petersen on Good Morning America.  I was already set up on the idea of using credit cards to pay off debt with 0% interest credit cards.  But seeing Randy was my big catalyst for using miles and points to travel. 

What was the goal of your trip?

This was my KIDS ARE OUT OF THE HOUSE trip!  For my girlfriend and me.  

A 19 Day Trip To Taiwan Thailand In Business Class With The Help Of Miles Points
Riding the Elephants at Chai Lai Orchid

We wanted to go to Thailand, get massages, eat Thai food, and see the country.  We traveled in October of 2014.

How long did you collect miles and points for your trip? 

We collected miles for 6 months for the flights.  

For our hotels, my husband already had a ton of points because he travels so much and had elite status with Hilton and IHG.  But I knew we wanted to stay at Hyatt so I did a status match to get Diamond elite status for the trip (which I learned about from Million Miles Secrets!).  

Which points did you save to take your trip?

We used 120,000 United Airlines miles for each round-trip flight.  

We flew to New York and then to Taiwan in Business Class on EVA Air.  Three days later, we flew Business Class in Thai Airways to Bangkok.  

We then flew First Class in Thai Airways to Paris on the way home.  Then United Airlines Business Class to Newark.  Finally, United Airlines First Class back to Houston (IAH).

A 19 Day Trip To Taiwan Thailand In Business Class With The Help Of Miles Points
One of the Many Birthday Cakes I Received During My Trip

For hotels, we used Hyatt points in Taiwan.  

We stayed at the St. Regis in Bangkok for 2 days.  I paid 12,000 Starwood points for one night.  And Starwood ran a promotion right before that trip that if you paid for a room they gave you a room.  

So I booked a $75 room in New Orleans for a friend and got a free room.  I wish I would have done a bunch more.

Then we stayed 2 nights at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok with Hyatt points.  We then flew to Phuket where we stayed at Andara Resort.  I found these $1,500 per night 2,000 square foot villas with a private pool on top for $49 a night on Sky Auction.  Three nights cost us less than $300 with taxes and fees!

A 19 Day Trip To Taiwan Thailand In Business Class With The Help Of Miles Points
From the Roof of Our Villa at Andara Resort

We then flew to Chiang Mai and stayed 2 nights at the Holiday Inn Chiang Mai.  One night was with a free night certificate with the Chase IHG card, and one was 5,000 IHG points.  

We then changed to the Le Meridian Chiang Mai and stayed 3 nights, which we just paid for.  It was only $75 a night with free breakfast because I was a Starwood Gold elite member.  We stayed 2 nights at the Elephant Place that we paid a nominal fee for also.

What cards would you recommend to someone starting out with miles & points?

I had the Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card and Chase Hyatt card.  And my girlfriend also concentrated on the Chase cards.

How did you search for and find the award flights?

We used Mero at PointsPros because it was so complicated and we were doing a stopover and changing airlines.  

A 19 Day Trip To Taiwan Thailand In Business Class With The Help Of Miles Points
Temple of Dawn in Bangkok

This was my first big international First Class flight.  It was $75 a person to have PointsPros secure the award flights back then.  Let him have the headache of booking that!

How did you find your hotel accommodations?

I did all the hotels.  I love researching on TripAdvisor and reading reviews. 🙂 

What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?

We booked our flights right before United Airlines changed their valuation in February 2014, so we were booked 10 months early. 

A 19 Day Trip To Taiwan Thailand In Business Class With The Help Of Miles Points
Dumplings and Beer in Taiwan

The hardest part was for me to figure out our itinerary and where we would stay.  I probably changed hotels a dozen times.  We wanted luxury for the least expensive price.  

Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination.  Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.

Taiwan was fabulous.  The food was phenomenal, and the foot massages were to die for.  But it’s expensive.  Figure out the trains.  They are clean and so easy to ride.

In Chiang Mai, the women’s prison was our favorite place to get massages and we ate at Lemongrass restaurant at least 10 times the food was so good.  We just kept going back.

A 19 Day Trip To Taiwan Thailand In Business Class With The Help Of Miles Points
Cooking Class in Chiang Mai

Take a cooking class.  It’s amazing how fast they cook their food.  So good.  Phuket is a tourist trap.  We had originally scheduled longer there but there were too many tourists, so we left early.

Don’t buy your domestic flights within Thailand until you need them.  My girlfriend didn’t want to go without tickets, we ended up throwing away flights and booking new because it was cheaper ($50) to just book new flights.  

A 19 Day Trip To Taiwan Thailand In Business Class With The Help Of Miles Points
Tuk Tuk in Bangkok

The Tuk Tuk drivers in Bangkok are going to take you to the tailor no matter how many times you tell them not to.  Just accept it.

We hired a driver for a day and had him bring us to where he eats.  One of the best meals we had on the trip for a fraction of the price.

What did you learn about yourself on the trip?

I learned that I’m pretty good at booking trips!  I pay attention to a lot of details.  

A 19 Day Trip To Taiwan Thailand In Business Class With The Help Of Miles Points
On a Boat in Krabi

Now, I only will fly out of one of the international airports near me.  Because after flying into Newark, I had to connect twice to get back home.  I was so tired after 19 days of travel.  

That was my biggest lesson.  Now I only book out the 3 international airports near my city of Lafayette, Louisiana.

What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip?  Or to those who haven’t taken a miles & points trip yet!

It’s so easy.  Having a bunch of credit cards doesn’t ruin your credit.  And you can literally go on the trip of your dreams in less than a year.  

We all spend money – you might as well get something for the money you spend.  

Our trip ended up costing us 120,000 United Airlines miles each (at the time) to fly Business and First Class.  Thai First Class is amazing on the big double decker plane.  

We spent less than 100,000 hotel points.  And we were out of pocket $2,500 each for 19 days (~$132 a day).

Want to Share Your Story?

If you’d like to be considered for our reader success story series, please send me a note!  Emily and I would love to hear about how you travel with miles and points!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 36,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Very nice report and thanks for sharing your story. I really like reader success stories because they are succinct and pack all the tips in one report.

Nice job on scoring the business class flight, although I would say that saving points for hotels in Thailand is unnecessary. As you mentioned, you can easily get nice hotel rooms/holiday rental for cheap, especially given the strong US dollars.

I agree that Phuket was an absolute tourist trap. We had only two days there (one day was to attend friend’s wedding) and that was enough. We spent the rest of our time at Hilton Arcadia as there wasn’t anything to do. Phi Phi Island was another tourist trap.

Luckily, we also went to Ao Nang which we loved (especially Railay Beach with view of limestone. Didn’t go to Chiang Mai but really wish we had. Everyone I know who went loved it!

We want to go Back and go to Chiang Rai. the triangle up there and I would like to do Ao Nang and other areas also. Phuket and Bangkok I never have to see again.

Great write up and glad the trip was fun for the family! I did want to make a note of the Elephant riding, though. I highly encourage people interested in interacting with elephants to do a bit of research on elephant tourism. The elephants go through some pretty brutal treatments to be domesticated for riding, and the weight of humans oftentimes breaks their backs after a few years. I suggest Elephant sanctuaries for a non-harmful method of getting close to elephants.

We researched this a lot. We went to a Santuary for Elephants and Women who were Abducted from other countries and forced into Sex Slavery. Chai Lai Orchid was where we stayed in Primitive Accommodations. The food was awesome. Very Green Place. A lot of my research on this was I would go on trip advisor and look at the Elephant places. I would click on the Negative Comments only. Some said the elephants were emaciated, Stabbed with Knives, they would run away with people on the back of them and stuff like that. Chai Lai Orchid had no negative comments about the elephants at all. All Positive and very earth friendly and elephant friendly. Plus it was a sanctuary for the girls. That’s a good trick when researching look at the negative comments not the positive ones. People will always bitch about something but look to see what.

120,000 r/t? over a year ago devalued are you sure? doesn’t add up how did you do it please?

It was in 2014. United changed it’s mileage redemption. Mero at Points Pro’s made sure that we booked before Feb I think whenever it went into effect. They had a free stopover. We flew out of JFK. on EVA to Taiwan. Which was business class. Great flight by the way. The food wasn’t good, but the flight was great. Stayed there for 3 days then flew to Thailand on Thai Airways business class. This was our free stopover. We flew all over the country and then flew home on Thai Airways first CLASS… The Best ever on the Double Decker flight. First Class Lounge was amazing. We flew from Bangkok to Paris First Class. Those are the seats on the first pic. From Paris to EWR in Business Class almost laydown seats United. From EWR to IAH in First United. Then home. All for 120,000 miles total. It was a great. $80 in fees and $100 to Points Pros. If you are new to this game and you don’t know how to book with Points. Reach out to one of the booking services. Points Pro’s were Great and I’ve used them again, on complicated Itineraries.

Can you explain more of how you got your tickets for RT 120k United miles (which stopover rules you used, was it all one booking, etc)? I know this might be before some devaluations and rule changes but that seems really good. I also know you booked through Pointspro. How was that experience?

Yes it was all one booking. If you read below I go thru my Itinerary. I flew from LFT to Charlotte to JFK. We took our Flight out from there. I actually didn’t have my last leg of the flight till like 3 months before cause it wasn’t available on Saver award. The whole ticket was Saver Award Tickets. We booked right before the redemptions changed. Mero made sure to tell me to Book before a certain date. We also Changed our flights like a month out to Stay longer in Taiwan and they changed it for free. I was actually over my allotted flights too that’s why I had to wait to get my flights. Here’s another tip. When I was in Bangkok waiting to get on my Thai Flight I checked my EWR flight and a first class seat came open that I was eligible for. I didn’t know how to call United from Thailand and the girls at the first class lounge didn’t either and it was Midnight in Thailand. So I tweeted United and told them my problem. When I landed in Paris they had tweeted back that I was bumped up to first class. Twitter is a great tool.

Great tips. I hadn’t heard of skyauction and Pointspro so will check them out. We laughed at your Tuk Tuk tailor story because we negotiated a cheaper Tuk Tuk ride in exchange for spending 10 minutes at the tailor. Apparently the drivers get gas coupons when they bring someone to a shop.

Yes the drivers get Gas Coupons. Regardless of how much arguing we did we just couldn’t get them to not bring us. We literally would get out. But you must ride a Tuk Tuk. In Chiang Mai. They were good.

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