Author Topic: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand  (Read 9224 times)

Offline Dan

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2013, 01:23:13 PM »
you think I should look elsewhere?
TWIS ;)
The W really is fantastic, esp if you're not there for shabbos.
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Offline AJK

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2013, 01:35:38 PM »
My itin had us flying into HKG from Thailand at 7pm on the 9th of Feb and flying out of HKG the next day at 11:30am back to the US at the end of our trip. So that night i was planning on spending in Macau. but our HKG to EWR flight got cancelled and i ended up just flying out at night on the 9th. so basically skipped Macau.

As to your reservation at the GH HK, from what i read on flyertalk, the executive suites are supposed to much larger, but with a more dated decor than the grand deluxe harbor view, and as such, some people prefer the grand deluxe room over the suite (i know it sounds weird, but it really depends on the person and how much space you need). I personally didn't see the decor in the suite so can't comment, but in my opinion, the whole hotel is a bit dated. even in the room we stayed in, which was "renovated" the bathrooms were the black marble, which is something that would be considered luxury 20-30 years ago, so...

Now, i'm assuming that you are using hyatt suite nights, so you are restricted to the chain. If not, and you are actually paying for your hotel room or using points, you can probably get a better value in some other hotel. Also note, that they are doing renovations in the hotel right now (which you probably got a notice of). personally, noise doesn't bother me much, but i know some people are very sensitive to it.

Yeah, I did get the notice about renovations, and I read about the room on FT, but since I am using a CC suite night for GH HK, it looks like its either there or the Hyatt Regency, which although it has great views, is not in the thick of HKI...

TWIS ;)
The W really is fantastic, esp if you're not there for shabbos.

Indeed, and it definitely does look fantastic, but I'm just not sure I could stomach using 20k SPG for per night...
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Offline Dan

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2013, 01:41:23 PM »
Indeed, and it definitely does look fantastic, but I'm just not sure I could stomach using 20k SPG for per night...
How much are paid/corp/spg50/35N rates?
May also be able to call to open C&P, though still not cheap.
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Offline AJK

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2013, 01:59:39 PM »
For base room:

2465 HKD/ do they ID? / looks to be 2300HKD+1000spg / unfamiliar with this promo

I guess I could sell a HGP suite night to book a room here and *hope* for an upgrade...
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Offline TAVI

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2013, 02:36:41 PM »
For base room:

2465 HKD/ do they ID? / looks to be 2300HKD+1000spg / unfamiliar with this promo

I guess I could sell a HGP suite night to book a room here and *hope* for an upgrade...

I had the same dilemma when making my reservations (i.e. selling the night and using it proceeds to book another hotel), but eventually decided against it because of the Diamond benefits at hyatt.

Offline Dan

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2013, 04:31:56 PM »
For base room:

2465 HKD/ do they ID? / looks to be 2300HKD+1000spg / unfamiliar with this promo

I guess I could sell a HGP suite night to book a room here and *hope* for an upgrade...
You should be able to sell a HGP suite night to cover $317 and it'll be a whole lot nicer.
Do you have SPG Plat? They were great to me as a plat.
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Offline AJK

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2013, 04:34:53 PM »
You should be able to sell a HGP suite night to cover $317 and it'll be a whole lot nicer.
Do you have SPG Plat? They were great to me as a plat.

What'd they upgrade you to?
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Offline Dan

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2013, 04:43:08 PM »
What'd they upgrade you to?
Marvellous Suite.  Was out of this world.
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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2013, 04:46:10 PM »
Wow.

(No pun intended.)

I'll probably do that then...
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Offline SavingsBigtime

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #24 on: February 25, 2013, 02:09:04 PM »
When are we getting part 3?

Offline TAVI

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #25 on: February 26, 2013, 12:33:29 AM »
working on it, hopefully soon :)

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #26 on: March 07, 2013, 01:12:59 PM »
Part 3 - Thailand

So apologies in advance for taking so long to write the follow up , but here it goes.

As I mentioned earlier, all the flights from HKG to Thailand, within Thailand and back to HKG were done on Thai Airways Business, purchased via UA miles (35K pp). and I enjoyed every moment of these flight. Thai airways rocks big time. From their lounges to the excellent services. Even though the flighs were short (less than 3 hours each) their business product was great, with comfortable reclining seats and full meals even on 1 hours flights. They even had a Boeing 747 on a CNX to BKK route with fully lie flat beds (that’s a 55 minute flight). Also, when our HKG to CNX flight, with a 1 hour connection in BKK, was running 15 mins late, they had a driver with a cart waiting for us right outside of our gate, who quickly ushered us to the departure gate so we don’t miss our connection.

Now Chiang Mai was indeed great. Glad I took Dan’s and others advice on the forum and we spent 4 nights there at the Le Meridien. The hotel is located right next to the night bazaar in the center of town and is about 15 min drive from airport. The hotel is modern with great rooms and a great deal as a cat 2 SPG property. We are only SPG gold members, so no suite upgrade or comp breakfast for us, but the room provided was large enough and you can get breakfast right outside of hotel in a café called “café de siam” (non-kosher).  The “amircaz lemetaiel” café is also 5 mins walk from the hotel, but not sure if they are glatt kosher. The service itself at the hotel wasn’t amazing, but for a cat 2 property one can’t really complain.

In terms of activities in Chiang Mai, there a tour place at every corner (well there are actually 5 at every corner, combined with massage parlors), and you are always better off getting one of the organized tours if you are there for the entire day, as it comes out cheaper. We didn’t do the tour but rather hired a driver. We went to the tiger kingdom as the wife insisted, and then did the elephant show and riding at Maesa elephant camp. I would highly recommend Maesa, as it is the biggest, cleanest and most organized place, and there is no reason to venture to any of the other ones who are further (our driver drove us to one of the other camps as he was getting commission from them, but they were farther, and dirtier, so I asked him to take us to Maesa). Otherwise, we got massages and did shopping at the night bazaar. I do have to say that I totally disagree with the praises the Sunday market received in previous reports. I found nothing to buy at this market as its all really just souvenirs and other crap (no knockoffs). The night bazaar has a much larger assortment of items, just don’t forget to negotiate (remember 50 to 75 % off). Getting around the city is easy, and you can probably walk to most places, otherwise you can grab a tuk-tuk for 100 baht (even 80 if you feel arguing over 50 cents). Cab to airport will be roughly 150 baht or $5.

On our way from Chaing Mai to Phuket, we spent a day in Bangkok (didn’t want to be in Thailand and not see the capital). Note that under 24 hours is just a connection, so it cost us nothing as we flew in at 11am and flew out next day at 10am. We stayed at the sukumvhit aLoft using cash & points. It’s a cat 1 property so 1,250 points and $25. It Has great reviews on TA, which I can confirm, as the property is modern, staff was pleasant and is well located, especially since we were out all day touring the city and just used the hotel to sleep. In Bangkok, we tried to see the Grand Palace, but got there at 3:30 on the dot (when they close entry) and the guard wouldn’t let us in. later we learned that you have to be covered up, so we wouldn’t be able to get in anyways as I was wearing shorts, which is not allowed, oh well. We toured other city attractions such as Siam square / mall, Patpong (which is their red light district and has a decent night market). My advice is to avoid the Ping Pong shows, as it is quite disgusting (what a waste of 1 minute of my life), but there is a bar with a Muay Thai ring that’s not that bad, although I’m not sure how real were the fights. A taxi from / to airport is roughly 400-500 baht including the toll cost.

When we got to Phuket, we really just wanted to relax and take it easy before coming back to NY, so we decided to stay at a quiet resort instead of in the main happening area of Patong. We booked the Radisson Blu Cape Panwa resort for 4 nights using our Club Carlson points. We both have their credit card, so got the rooms for 50% off by booking 2 night on my name and 2 nights on my wife’s. Being a gold member, they upgraded us to the Radisson Suite with no charge, from where we further upgraded to the Ocean View Pool Villa for additional 2,000 baht a night. So overall, we spent 88K Club Carlson points and $260 for 4 nights in a pool villa during peak season (needless to say I was very happy with this). The resort is very nice and relaxing, the staff was great, but it is a hike to main attractions. The hotel does offer 2 daily shuttles to Phuket Town (nothing to do there in my opinion), and to Central Festival (nice mall, but pricey), otherwise, a taxi to Patong will run you about 800 baht.

In terms of activities in Phuket, we just mostly soaked up the sun and spent one night in Patong, where we went to see the Simon Cabaret show and walked around the Bangla road area, which is the main night life district in Phuket. Note that food and transportation in Phuket is much more expensive than in Chaing Mai and probably even more than in Bangkok. Taxi between airport and cape panwa was about 700-800 baht.

As we flew back to HKG, we were supposed to spend the night in Macau before our scheduled departure the next day to NYC. Unfortunately, due to weather disruptions in NY, our direct business/first flight on UA was cancelled which we found out when we got to the airport in HKG. United in their kindness automatically rebooked us on a 2 connection flight in economy 2 days after our original departure, which would be hilarious if it didn’t happen to me. Lucky for us, I was able to look up other alternatives not offered by United and found a flight on Singapore airlines leaving that night. After a bit of a hassle, when I had to run between the United and Singapore desks at HKG I convinced them to book us on the earlier flight and we decided to cut our trip short by one night and visit Macau next time. During this process I completely lost faith in United and will only fly them if I have to, but at least we got to experience Singapore airlines, which was just superb.

Hope a fellow traveler / DDFer can benefit from our experience, and please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.


Offline AJK

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #27 on: March 07, 2013, 01:34:29 PM »
Now Chiang Mai was indeed great. Glad I took Dan’s and others advice on the forum and we spent 4 nights there at the Le Meridien. The hotel is located right next to the night bazaar in the center of town and is about 15 min drive from airport. The hotel is modern with great rooms and a great deal as a cat 2 SPG property. We are only SPG gold members, so no suite upgrade or comp breakfast for us, but the room provided was large enough and you can get breakfast right outside of hotel in a café called “café de siam” (non-kosher).  The “amircaz lemetaiel” café is also 5 mins walk from the hotel, but not sure if they are glatt kosher. The service itself at the hotel wasn’t amazing, but for a cat 2 property one can’t really complain.

In terms of activities in Chiang Mai, there a tour place at every corner (well there are actually 5 at every corner, combined with massage parlors), and you are always better off getting one of the organized tours if you are there for the entire day, as it comes out cheaper. We didn’t do the tour but rather hired a driver. We went to the tiger kingdom as the wife insisted, and then did the elephant show and riding at Maesa elephant camp. I would highly recommend Maesa, as it is the biggest, cleanest and most organized place, and there is no reason to venture to any of the other ones who are further (our driver drove us to one of the other camps as he was getting commission from them, but they were farther, and dirtier, so I asked him to take us to Maesa). Otherwise, we got massages and did shopping at the night bazaar. I do have to say that I totally disagree with the praises the Sunday market received in previous reports. I found nothing to buy at this market as its all really just souvenirs and other crap (no knockoffs). The night bazaar has a much larger assortment of items, just don’t forget to negotiate (remember 50 to 75 % off). Getting around the city is easy, and you can probably walk to most places, otherwise you can grab a tuk-tuk for 100 baht (even 80 if you feel arguing over 50 cents). Cab to airport will be roughly 150 baht or $5.

Thanks for the write-up!

Were you just hoping to get upgraded at the LM, or did you ask to be upgraded and were denied?

Aside from a day the tiger kingdom and elephant camp, what else did you occupy your 4 days with?

How much was Maesa elephant camp?

Also, interestingly enough, there are 4 elephant camps ranked before Maesa TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g293917-Activities-Chiang_Mai.html -- why'd you choose Maesa?
2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper

Offline TAVI

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2013, 02:39:41 PM »
Thanks for the write-up!

Were you just hoping to get upgraded at the LM, or did you ask to be upgraded and were denied?

Aside from a day the tiger kingdom and elephant camp, what else did you occupy your 4 days with?

How much was Maesa elephant camp?

Also, interestingly enough, there are 4 elephant camps ranked before Maesa TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g293917-Activities-Chiang_Mai.html -- why'd you choose Maesa?
Yes, i asked them if there was availability for a suite but was told that none was available. We were there during the flower festival weekend, and the hotel was very busy. and if i recall correctly, 2 of the 4 night were sold out. I didn't feel like arguing or switching rooms in the middle.

In terms of how we occupied our time, we were there for 4 nights, but got their late so truly we only spent 3 full days there. we got lots of massages (wife loves them), walking around the night market, laying out, sunday market (which i didn't like at all). biggest mistake i made was deciding to get a suit there. all those fittings were time consuming and the suit, well dont even get me started (but i'm very picky about suits). I learned a lesson tho, never again will i try to make a suit on a vacation :).

As to the elephant camp, those other camps are the ones where you have to spend the whole days there and take care of the elephants. i guess it depends what you are looking for, but we just really wanted a shorter / touristy experience. Plus, i dont think those other camps have the seats on the elephants for riding. so its 2 completely different activities. plus Maesa was recommended on this forum in the Thaliand thread, and i can confirm that out of the ones that offer the show and riding it was the nicest. We saw the show, which was 200 baht each, and than a 30 min ride for 2 (which was about 15 min too much for us)and was another 800 baht total. so all in all $40.

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Re: Trip Report - Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand
« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2013, 08:21:46 PM »
Great, thanks for the info.

2015: 116K bkd | 1.6M brnd | F: OZ,NH,AA,EK | J: UA,CA,TK,DL,TN,AF,VA | LIH,NRT,ROR,PEK,CNS,BOB,MEL,TLV & Pacific Hopper