Planning a trip to Thailand has been a dream of mine. I’ve always wanted to go to Thailand, and it will finally become a reality thanks to points and miles. Traveling with my husband, I’m excited to both spend time sitting on the beach, experiencing culture and eating awesome food.
I’ll show you that planning a trip to Thailand with points and miles is easily attainable – we won’t pay for a hotel during our 15-night vacation, all thanks to maximizing our everyday spend.
A Little Background
Similar to John, I don’t own a business or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. So, the points that we’re using on this trip are points that we’ve acquired through everyday spending and casual traveling for the last couple of years. My husband and I both have the Chase Trifecta, which is how we’ve earned a large bulk of our points, and we still love learning to tricks about how to maximize everyday spending. Our Beginner’s Guide is a great place to start planning ways to earn points for your next trip.
Points and Miles Strategy: Hotels
When we began planning a trip to Thailand, our goal was to use as many of our points and miles as possible in order to save money. We knew we wanted to utilize both of our large balances of Chase Ultimate Rewards. We had about 280,000 points between the two of us and the initial plan was to use these by transferring to one of Chase’s hotel partners. Chase transfers into Hyatt, IHG, Hilton and Marriott at 1:1 ratios.
Another option was to use the Chase Travel Portal to book non-transfer partner hotels. Because we have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, we can redeem Ultimate Rewards for 1.5 cents per point. For Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders, points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents per points.
After doing research, I determined that redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards via the Chase Travel Portal was going to be a better fit for us than transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to one of Chase’s hotel partners. I liked the look and location of some smaller hotels in our destinations, which I was able to book through the Chase Travel Portal.
Additionally, in some cases, there were no Chase hotel partners in the locations where we wanted to visit. However, every hotel that I’ve wanted to stay in has been in the Chase Travel Portal, including the smallest hotels off the beaten track in Thailand. The portal allows cardholders to use points for all or just some of the hotel cost. We ended up paying a little for each stay to keep the points at whole numbers.
Cost of room for stay: 11,000 Ultimate Rewards + $10.18
Typical cost for stay: $185.36
This hotel is conveniently located less than a five minute drive from Phuket International Airport. Since my husband and I will be arriving separately to Phuket (he is flying in from Japan after a work trip), we thought it would be easier to stay near the airport on the first night. I also liked the idea of having our own pool villa where I could recover from jet lag.
Cost of room for stay: 80,000 Ultimate Rewards + $67.32
Typical cost for stay: $1,441.32
I was in awe of how amazing this hotel looked when I discovered it online. Each room in the resort has a private infinity pool. We have never stayed in a hotel this expensive before, but thanks to points, we were able to afford it. We decided to use a lot of our points in order to stay in this lovely hotel, and then consciously chose hotels that were fewer points per night in other locations in order to stay within our overall points budget.
Phi Phi Coco Beach Resort (Phi Phi Islands)
Length of Stay: 1 night
Cost of room for stay: 10,300 Ultimate Rewards + $1.11
Typical cost for stay: $155.61
This resort is relatively new (opened in late 2018) and features a large pool and easy access to the beach. Many resorts in Koh Phi Phi are not accessible by land (you must take a long tail boat to access them once you arrive at the main pier by ferry), but Phi Phi Coco Beach Resort is just a short walk from Tonsai Pier making it ideal for a one-night stay in the Phi Phi islands.
Cost of room for stay: 51,000 Ultimate Rewards + $7.05
Typical cost for stay: $772.05
Rawi Warin is a large, five-star, beach front resort property. We chose this hotel because we wanted a relaxing resort vibe, but also wanted to be able to walk to local restaurants and establishments — Rawi Warin fit the bill, while also remaining within our points budget.
Cost of room for stay: 43,500 Ultimate Rewards + $4.18
Typical cost for stay: $656.68
This charming boutique hotel is perfectly located within the old town area of Chiang Mai, in walking distance to many sites and restaurants. We knew when we were planning a trip to Thailand, we wanted to visit Chiang Mai.
Grand Hyatt Erawan (Bangkok)
Length of Stay: 3 nights
Cost of room for stay: 2 Hyatt Free Night Certificates + 15,000 UR transferred to Hyatt at 1:1 ratio
Typical cost for stay: $584.75
This hotel is centrally located close to multiple mass transit lines, making it a good home base for sightseeing. We wanted to take advantage of the free night certificate we had from the Hyatt credit card.
My husband is just extending a work trip, so we didn’t need to worry about his flight. For my flight, there were several options on United using MileagePlus miles. In the end, we redeemed 80,000 miles for my roundtrip flight. We had enough points for this, but if we needed more, we could’ve always transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards to United since they are a transfer partner.
We purchased Thai Airways and Thai Air Asia flights to fly to different cities within the Thailand. The flights were cheap, so we decided not to use points. We used our Chase Sapphire Reserve to purchase these so we would earn 3x the points for travel. Using that card also allowed us to be protected by the trip delay insurance and lost baggage allowance should something happen.
Planning a trip to Thailand using points and miles was relatively simple, and allowed us to plan a dream vacation that we otherwise couldn’t have afforded.
During my research, I also found numerous other hotels with good reviews that that were extremely reasonable (sometimes just 5,000 points per night). Thailand is definitely a location where you could travel on a tight “points budget.” I’m looking forward to the trip and will be sure to share my adventures with the Everyday Points and Miles community!
Jenny is a contributor to Everyday Points & Miles and will be primarily responsible for the site's Instagram account. She is John's sister-in-law and will be using points and miles to travel to Thailand this spring.