Tag Archives: Trip Report

Around the World in Cathay, Singapore, and Lufthansa First: How to Do Angkor Wat

This is the eighth installment of a round-the-world trip report that started here. We pick up in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Angkor Wat is a 900 year old Hindu-turned-Buddhist temple complex just outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is the world’s largest religious monument, and the number one tourist attraction in Cambodia.

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Angkor Wat is actually just the most famous of many temples in the area that are collectively known as the Angkor Temples, named after Angkor, the seat of the former Khmer Empire.

The Angkor Temples were the highlight of my six-week trip around the world in Cathay Pacific, Singapore, and Lufthansa First Class this winter. I spent four days in Siem Reap, going to the Angkor Temples for part of every day. Based on my experiences, I have suggestions for the best ways to enjoy your time in Siem Reap and the Angkor temples.

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  • When should you go?
  • How much time should you budget?
  • What miles should you use to get there?
  • How should you see the temples?
  • Where should you stay?
  • What else is there to do around Siem Reap?
  • Plus dozens of pictures!

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Trip Report: Hawaiian Airlines First Class from Honolulu to Las Vegas

Saturday night I had the pleasure of flying Hawaiian Airlines First Class from Honolulu to Las Vegas.

I had an internet outage at home that day, so I headed to the airport about four hours early to try to get some work done on more reliable wifi.

Hawaiian Airlines has the largest check in area of any airline at Honolulu International Airport. When I arrived, I didn’t immediately see a First Class check in area, so I just used a kiosk to print my boarding pass.

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I did see a First Class and Premier check in right after that, and I went over to ask whether my ticket entitled me to lounge access.

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The agent’s answer was hilarious and prophetic: “Yes, but it’s more of a glorified waiting area.”

  • How was the lounge?
  • How was the flight?
  • How was the service?
  • How was the food?

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Around the World in Cathay, Singapore, and Lufthansa First: Le Meridien Angkor Review

This is the seventh installment of a round-the-world trip report that started here. We pick up in Cambodia.

I landed at Siem Reap International Airport and got my Cambodia visa on arrival. (Make sure to have $20 in cash and a passport-sized photo. Better yet, check current requirements.)

I had booked my first night at Le Méridien Angkor to test it out and because my preferred hostel was sold out.

Le Méridien Angkor is a Category 2 SPG property, which means it costs 4,000 Starpoints for a free night Sunday through Thursday and only 3,000 points for a weekend night.

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I was staying on a weeknight. Instead of booking a free night, I decided to book a Cash & Points night for 2,000 points + $35.

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Compared to a free night, this was like “buying” 2,000 points back for 1.75 cents each, which I was happy to do to stretch my super-valuable Starpoints balance.

Using points was the way to go with a paid night at the hotel going for around $140. (Every price you see in Cambodia is in dollars. Riel are really only used by tourists for change when a price is less than $1. Conveniently when I went, the exchange rate was basically exactly 4,000 riel to the dollar.)

Outside the airport, I was offered a taxi for $10 or a scooter for $3. I pack light, and the scooter sounded more fun, so saving $7 was an easy decision!

Le Méridien Angkor is about 8 miles from the airport, 3 miles from Angkor Wat, and 1 mile outside the heart of Siem Reap.

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Whether the location is a positive or negative depends on whether you want to be in the heart of the action or in a quieter area. Transportation options are so quick and cheap that I think it doesn’t matter much.

I arrived at the hotel in the early afternoon on a beautiful day.

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Entrance

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The Grounds

  • How was the room?
  • How was the hotel’s food?
  • How were the grounds?
  • How was the service?
  • Do I recommend Le Meridien as the place to stay when visiting Angkor Wat?

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Jetstar from Singapore to Cambodia (Low Cost Carrier Tips in Asia and Europe)

This is the sixth installment of a round-the-world trip report that started here. We pick up in Singapore.

As the title of this series indicates, my trip was built around flying Cathay Pacific, Singapore, and Lufthansa First Class. I booked those long flights well before I had a plan for my time on the ground.

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When I looked into how I wanted to spend my time in Southeast Asia, I decided to spend eight days in Cambodia. I had to get there and back from Singapore, and the way to do that seemed obvious to me based on previous experience in Southeast Asia: low-cost carriers.

Similarly I decided to spend three days in Slovenia to get back to the Balkans, and I had to get there from London. I knew it was another chance to save my airline miles and book a low-cost carrier.

Both flights could have been booked with traditional airline miles like United miles or British Airways Avios. But they would have been inefficient redemptions where I was saving less than 1 cent per mile used. Instead I saved those airline miles for redemptions when I can get 2 cents of value or more. And I redeemed Arrival miles earned on my Arrival World MasterCard, which can be used for free flights on any airline. (Meeting the card’s spending requirement unlocks $500 in free flights.)

How can you find low-cost carriers on routes you want to fly? How can you book them? What fees do you need to be aware of? Are low cost carriers bearable?

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Around the World in Cathay, Singapore, and Lufthansa First: Grand Hyatt Macau

This is the fifth installment of a round-the-world trip report that started here. We pick up in Macau, China.

I like Las Vegas in small doses, so I’ve always wanted to check out Macau, one of China’s two special autonomous regions (the other is Hong Kong). Macau is famous for being the biggest gambling destination in the world with revenues about seven times larger than the Las Vegas Strip’s in 2013.

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Macau and Hong Kong, 37 Miles Apart

I had heard that comparing Macau to Vegas was a mistake because while there’s a lot to do in Vegas from shopping to shows to just people watching, Macau is just gambling. I had even heard you could see Macau and get sick of it in a day.

That meant this was the perfect trip for me to go to Macau because I only had 20 hours in Hong Kong as part of an American Airlines award, and Macau is a short ferry ride away from Hong Kong International Airport.

I still haven’t spent time in Hong Kong itself, and I want to save it for a trip when I have several days to explore.

The day before heading to Macau, I had booked myself one night at the Grand Hyatt Macau, which usually goes for around $300 per night. The hotel is a Category 4 property, so I booked my night for free with 15,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points, the majority of which I had transferred instantly from Ultimate Rewards.

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I landed at 2:20 PM in Hong Kong, and I was feeling pretty good since I had slept eight hours on my flight from JFK in Cathay Pacific First Class.

I headed toward the ferry counters, which are well signed and before immigration. There are two ferry terminals in Macau, both of which are served from HKG for about $40. One terminal is called Macau on the north end (the Macau Peninsula) and the other, Taipa, is on the south end (on the island of Taipa.) Taipa was closer to my hotel, but I would have taken the first ferry to either because a cab from one ferry terminal to the other is only about $10.

I booked my ferry ticket for a 4 PM departure and boarded the one hour ferry to Taipa Ferry Terminal on Macau.

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How was the Grand Hyatt Macau? Is Macau worth a visit?

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Around the World in Cathay, Singapore, and Lufthansa First: Radisson Martinique on Broadway

Having just landed at Newark after a First Class flight from Honolulu, I took the AirTrain to New York Penn Station, and walked the few blocks to the Radisson Martinique on Broadway.

I had two free one-night certificates at any Radisson in the United States, and I knew that a New York City hotel would probably be the most expensive place to use them.

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Although we arrived at 1 PM, several hours before check in, my friend and I were quickly checked in and given the keys to a room with double beds.

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How was the room? How’s the location? Is the Radisson Martinique on Broadway worth your cash or your Club Carlson points?

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Around the World in Cathay, Singapore, and Lufthansa First: Introduction

I haven’t been home since February 16 when I boarded a plane from Honolulu for Newark. I have loved the I’m on trip because I finally got to play poker in Asia, see Angkor Wat, catch up with friends in Europe, see more of the Balkans, and experience the curiosities that are Macau and Singapore.

The trip took me to:

  • New York
  • Macau, China
  • Singapore
  • Cambodia
  • London
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Frankfurt
  • Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Atlanta, Georgia

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Along the way, I’ve flown and stayed at:

  • Cathay Pacific First Class
  • Singapore Airlines First Class
  • Lufthansa First Class (and First Class Terminal)
  • Wizz Air and Jetstar Asia (low cost carriers)
  • Radisson Martinique on Broadway
  • Grand Hyatt Macau
  • Le Meridien Angkor Wat
  • The May Fair in London
  • A Holiday Inn Express in Frankfurt
  • hostels in Cambodia, Singapore, and Ljubljana
  • a motel in Greensboro
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Lufthansa First Class, Hair Style by Nap

Booking Process

What was the booking process, how much time did I spend in each place, and what would I have done differently?

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I Lost My Passport Today in Macau

I rushed out of my taxi, flashed my boarding card at the Taipa Ferry Terminal, and fished through my pocket for my passport to exit immigration.

My first reaction was surprise: My passport wasn’t in the pocket I expected it to be.

Annoyance: It wasn’t in my other four pockets either.

Sinking feeling: It wasn’t in my bag either.

I had lost my passport in Macau!

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Trip Report: United BusinessFirst (Business Class) London to Washington D.C.

I surprised my family of four by booking them roundtrip business class tickets to Italy for Christmas using US Airways miles. It is very difficult to find four flatbed business class award seats to Europe during peak Christmas travel time. With a bit of flexibility, I was lucky to snag a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt on the outbound and the United flight below on the inbound. I previously reviewed Lufthansa’s 747-8 business class, so I will skip ahead to the flight home.

United has recently increased their award chart prices to most regions. Flying Star Alliance partners in a premium cabin usually costs thousands of miles more than flying United itself. Those that want to conserve United miles (or Chase Ultimate Rewards) should take note of this trip report, as your mileage balance stretches further flying United metal.

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How was the seat? Is United BusinessFirst a truly flat bed product? Was the service (and food) to the standards of other Star Alliance business carriers? Is the Star Alliance business lounge in London a decent place to kill a few hours?

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Trip Report: Review of the Andaz Maui at Wailea

I just got back home from two nights at the Andaz Maui at Wailea.

It’s a beautiful, luxurious, attentive resort with breathtaking sunset views.

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It’s also very expensive, poorly located for the activities that interested me on Maui, and charges a $30 mandatory valet fee per day if you come with a car.

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What are my thoughts on the service, food, room, value, and more (with tons of pictures)?

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Trip Report: ANA Business Class from Tokyo to Washington D.C.

This review is a continuation of my fun US Airways redemption that I wrote about back in this post. I reviewed Turkish Business Class: Washington DC to Istanbul and Cathay Pacific Business Class: Tokyo to Hong Kong already.

I was extremely excited for my nonstop flight from Tokyo to Washington-Dulles on ANA. About two months before our scheduled departure, we had an equipment change and would be flying their Boeing 777-300ER featuring ANA’s “new” flat bed business seats.

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We took a Cathay Pacific redeye back from Hong Kong to Narita where we had a long layover before our final flight home in the late morning. Both the ANA lounge and flight delivered in every way. The inflight experience was fantastic, especially the service and seat, so I can’t wait to fly ANA again.

How was the seat, bed, food, service, and entertainment in ANA’s new Business Class configuration? Was the ANA lounge a good place to relax for a few hours?

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Trip Report: Cathay Pacific Business Class from Tokyo to Hong Kong

This review is a continuation of my fun US Airways redemption that I wrote about back in this post. I reviewed Turkish Business Class: Washington DC to Istanbul already and had a similar (great) experience on my flight from Istanbul to Tokyo also in Turkish Business, so I am skipping to the next segment in Cathay Pacific Business Class.

I was in Tokyo, and I wanted to add a quick side trip onto my main award, and Hong Kong seemed like the logical spot. I had British Avios to burn, there were several nonstops on JAL and Cathay Pacific from convenient Tokyo-Haneda, and one of Cathay’s was flown by their double-decker Boeing 747-400.

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As many of you noticed in my Lufthansa trip report, I’m obsessed with being on the top deck of planes (perhaps this translates directly from my bunk bed preferences as a child). The fact that Cathay Pacific is slowly retiring this plane from service provided added incentive to book.

Image from cathaypacific.com

Image from cathaypacific.com

How was the seat? Was the service up to Cathay Pacific’s high standards? Was this redemption a good use of Avios?

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Trip Report: Turkish Business Class Washington DC to Istanbul

This review is a continuation of my fun US Airways redemption that I wrote about back in this post. I tweaked the itinerary slightly in the interim,  instead electing to fly nonstop from Washington DC to Istanbul and Istanbul to Tokyo on Turkish and Tokyo to Washington DC on ANA. A quick side trip to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific using Avios rounded out the trip. Those reports will come later.

I was thrilled to try out Turkish’ business class product. I had heard rave reviews of their food and their lie-flat seats seemed solid. The prospect of a nonstop flight from my home airport to Istanbul was even more exciting: I would be visiting a close friend I hadn’t seen in months who was teaching abroad in Bulgaria.

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How was the seat, bed, food, service, and entertainment Turkish’s Business Class? Does their catering reputation live up to its hype?

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Trip Report: Lufthansa Business Class Frankfurt to Washington DC on the 747-8

The 50k mile bonus offer is back on the Lufthansa card mentioned in this post until 6/30/14. Get it now!

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchases or balance transfer
  • Earn an additional 30,000 award miles when you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Cardholders receive a companion ticket after first use of the account and annually after each account anniversary
  • No Foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance member airlines and on other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee. Please see Terms and Conditions for complete details

Application Link: The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard

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This review is a continuation of my huge US Airways redemption that I wrote about back in this post. I reviewed Swiss Business Class: Boston to ZurichThai First Class: Paris to Bangkok on an A380, the Thai Royal Orchid Spa in Bangkok, and Asiana First Class: Seoul to Frankfurt already.

What aircraft is newer than the 787 Dreamliner and A380?

The all new 747-8I, which Lufthansa has only been flying for a year and a half.

This technological marvel retains the look and beauty of a 747 while integrating modern fuel efficiency and onboard technology. I was very excited to fly one from Frankfurt to Washington DC recently in Lufthansa Business Class.

I had an overnight layover in Frankfurt after coming in from Seoul. My initial plan was to hit the ground running and explore Frankfurt to maximize my 19 hours in the city. Unfortunately, delays in Seoul and poor weather in Frankfurt scuttled my plan, and I ended up booking a quick night at the Hilton Garden Inn using 40,000 HHonors points. This property is adjacent to the Hilton Frankfurt Airport and is located close to the actual terminal and the high-speed train station via an enclosed pedestrian walkway.

The room itself was small, but the hotel had everything that suited my needs: walkable to the terminal, comfortable bed, extensive breakfast spread, fast wi-fi, and decent views of inbound aircraft.

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I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to get on the upper deck of a 747-8 for the first time in my life!

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How was the seat, bed, food, service, and entertainment Lufthansa’s recently updated Business Class? How does the new seat stack up against its competitors?

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Trip Report: Asiana First Class Seoul to Frankfurt

This review is a continuation of my huge US Airways redemption that I wrote about back in this post. I reviewed Swiss Business Class: Boston to ZurichThai First Class: Paris to Bangkok on an A380, and the Thai Royal Orchid Spa in Bangkok already.

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After a relaxing night at the Park Hyatt Seoul (a great value at 15,000 Hyatt points/night), I took the coach bus from the Gangnam bus terminal to Incheon airport at 10:00 a.m. The trip was long, but the comfortable bus saved me plenty of won over hailing a taxi.

How was the seat, bed, food, service, and entertainment in Asiana First Class? How does Asiana First Class stack up against its competitors?

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