Bangkok Bound

File:Bangkok skytrain sunset.jpg
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Late this week, I’m going to Bangkok for a five day visit.  I’ve never been before and I’m totally psyched about it!  To tell the truth, though, Bangkok was an afterthought for this trip.

As a full time blogger who blogs about tricks for earning frequent flyer miles, I can easily and almost freely fly around the world whenever I want.  I can do my “job” in an airport lounge, on a plane, in a hotel, and really anywhere.  In theory, I’m free to work and play anywhere, anytime.  In theory…

In real life, I have a family and responsibilities.  My wife works full time and travels often for her work.  My son is in school.  My dog needs to be walked.  I can’t just leave anytime on my own without planning ahead.  As a family, we do travel often, but usually just during school breaks.  Recently, we’ve traveled international business class a few times (and loved it), but I really want to experience the best of international first class travel. 

I would love to experience international first class with my family, but the logistics are difficult.  Using miles, it is rare to find saver level award availability for three on the same flights.  And, by restricting our availability to school breaks, award availability is even worse.  I still expect that we’ll find an opportunity someday, but its not obvious when.  So, I sat down with my wife and a calendar to find a good opportunity for me to go out on my own.  Due to family trips, planned events, and even Million Mile Madness, there were shockingly few dates available.  The best dates we could find were near the end of January and into early February.

I worked with an award booking service to help me find the best flights (full details about the service to follow later).  At first I made an open ended request: I wanted to fly the best airlines with the best service: take me anywhere.  Later, I refined the request when I realized that my mom was going to be in Bangkok during the time that I could travel.  I figured that I might as well meet up with her there!  So, I’m going to Bangkok!

I rarely do trip reviews because I like to focus on tips and tricks for earning points and miles, but I’ll make an exception here.  My intention is to post mini reviews in-the-moment as often as possible.  If a flight has Wi-Fi, I’ll post my impression of the flight from the air.  Otherwise, I hope to post shortly after arrival.  If my airport experience is worth sharing, I’ll post that too.  In Bangkok, I’ll let you know what I think of the hotel, and any attractions, events, or experiences that seem worth sharing.  I’ve never before flown international first class, nor have I been to Bangkok.  So, my perspective will be a bit different from those who have made a career out of writing about first class cabins and international travel.  I expect you’ll see some “wide eyed wonder” along with (hopefully very little) whining when things don’t go quite right.

So, what are the special airlines and flights I have booked?  I left a small clue in one of my recent posts, so I have no doubt that many readers will figure out one of my flights ahead of time.  The rest, though, will be revealed as I go.  The adventure will begin Thursday night.  Please follow along!

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. I agree with Gerard. We have too many amatuer bloggers on boardingarea (im not saying freq mile is one of them). But if ur a blogger, u need to know how to do it all.

  2. In my opinion, FM is far and away the expert on innovative ways to earn miles. What’s wrong with that kind of specialization? I’d rather he concentrate his efforts on uncovering new ways to earn miles. There are plenty of other blogs out there that talk about using them.

  3. @Mike But if ur a blogger, u need to know how to do it all.

    Says who? Do you have the official Travel Points blogger manual or something? FM is the most innovative and creative point generator around, IMO. Keep up the good work and have a great trip.

  4. Let me guess. You are using Delta Skymiles and flying Korean Air. That’s super-difficult to get seat availability.

    Bangkok is definitely a good place to visit. Just be careful from the scams targeting at western tourists and you will be fine.

    Looking forward to read your trip experience to BKK.

  5. FrequentMiler

    I think the majority if not all your audience also reads the blogs of the other boardingarea members (of course there will be some that don’t). I think those same people who follow you have a good understanding of what Lucky’s services are, or any of the other members who provide the same.

    You have a bold blog, covering an aspect of miles the others do not. Don’t limit yourself to those services. Be bold like your blog and review someone that is out there on this list

  6. Stacey/Jivepicnic/Randall: Thanks!
    Jim R: The only flight using Delta miles will be the final leg from SFO to DTW that I wrote about last week
    Bzorg: I did not use a Boarding Area award booking service, but I don’t see why it would have made any difference if I had. Some of the best are right here. It will take a very long time, but I hope to get experience with many services, Boarding Area or not.

  7. Sometimes I read the comments in your post and I am at a loss to understand where these people come up with their rules for how you should be a blogger. Keep doing what your doing, use whoever you want for booking, and please do detail your trip and how you used your miles to enjoy the first class trip–so that I can have a roadmap for doing the same.

  8. FM has created a perfect niche coming up with points generating ideas that are being ripped off by many many other blogs. No reason he should also have to know how to book award flights when there are plenty of other blogs out there to teach you how to do that. Keep up the great work.

  9. I lived in Bangkok for three years while working for a Fortune 5 company. I hated it the first time I visited, and by the time I left it was home, hands down the most favorite place I have been. That love/hate relationship is pretty common. My advice for any first timer to BKK is to have a plan — you can’t just show up and play things by ear. Good luck, and looking forward to hearing about your trip!

  10. curious to know the award booking service, I have being trying to book a flight for 3 this aug to Bangladesh with award…. still no luck.

  11. @ bangkokiscool! I will be visiting Bangkok for the first time in March for two nights. Would you elaborate further on what do you mean by a plan?

  12. Have to agree with everyone who thinks you should do this blog your way. Your unique style and approach is why I look forward to reading your blog. Keep up the good work.

  13. You should watch scam city bangkok on you tube to see the scam in bangkok before you arrive in bangkok, just a precautinary.

  14. FM does not need to specialize in trip reports. OneMileataTime does that, but he should be able to post whatever he wants. I support you FM! I also have a wife and we are restricted by peak season availability. My advice is to plan far ahead. The worse that could happen is a $150 cancellation fee, which you could avoid at times if they change the schedule on you.

  15. @caveman — as a first-timer there for just two nights, it’s even more important to have a plan! BKK is a huge city with something for everyone. For me, if I was only there for two nights I would have to make a plan just around food!

  16. You do have an understanding wife. I wouldn’t be able to do that. However, I have convinced my wife that I can take my 4yo son on a trip to Europe. Next time, you might consider going alone with your son. My son loves flying airplanes (not sure about 8-10 hours).

  17. Your blog, your rules. I think specialization is good in blogging. I don’t understand the folks that think a blogger needs to be a Jack of all trades.

  18. Go to YouTube and watch the 3 episodes of “Scam City – Bangkok” so you can know in advance all the scams the locals will try to get you into. Other than that Bangkok is one of the most fascinating cities in the world.

  19. Enjoy your First Class journey in Singapore Airlines FM! I wish I had that many points to fly first class in Singapore airlines. Have fun at BKK!

  20. Awesome! Never had a chance to go anywhere near there..kudos to your wife too! I have to say, my wife is very understanding too and has allowed me to go by myself to Europe on short multi-city marathons (love spending BA miles intra Europe…) when our work conflicts don’t allow us big travels together.

    Again have fun, keep us posted, and great kudos to your wife!!!

  21. I have used Gary’s award booking service & he was awesome, but now has become more expensive. Scott ( & Tahsir booking service probably offers the best value and will most likely get you two extra OW award at both ends of your trip.

    As for Thailand, great choice for a destination … check out our branch here, and feel free to ask any question! 🙂

  22. Forgot to mention that we are also a family and all four (with wife & two kids) of us travel together since 2009 on award flights in either first or business since 2009.

  23. JUst yesterday returned from 19 days stay in Thailand. stayed total of 9 days in bangkok. The weather there is always from 80-90 degree. I couldn’t believe why even in month of jan is so hot in thailand. But i liked it compared to the brutal freezing weather in US.

    The BTS is the way to get around it is always packed but it is the best. DON’T STAY at CONRAD in BKK> horrible breakfast with very few quantities. I hated the lounge and drank coffee and ate soonewhere else.

  24. Wow, I can’t believe some of the negative feedback here. Who says a travel blog has to be all things travel? The thing I love about FM is that he has a niche, and it is very unique. If he started regularly posting looooooong reviews of international premium cabins and how to book them, I wouldn’t be interested. I’m here for his innovative mileage earning techniques. Keep up the good work and have a great time!

  25. Not that you asked for it, but here’s my gray-beard advice FWIW: DON’T blog about your travels.

    You have a great niche: you have quickly become the “go to” guy to figure out tricks for earning miles. Even to a grizzled ff veteran like myself, your blog is a daily must read. Congratulations — keep up the great work!

    But you are obviously still a novice traveller. You have no particular expertise in it. Maybe someday you will, but not yet. Stick with what you’re the expert on, not stuff we can read anywhere.

    I’d also note that, to my taste, some other good travel blogs post too many personal travel experiences. Gary’s ViewfromtheWing blog — still the best overall ff blog — suffers from way too many photos of his various seats/meals etc. He should have a link where you click on this stuff if you’re interested (I’ve mentioned this to him, but he hasn’t taken my advice!) The reality is that most of us aren’t going to be terribly interested in how your particular breakfast was unless we happen to be heading to that exact hotel, etc. And that’s very needle-in-a-haystack stuff. By contrast, most of us are very interested in the latest credit card sign up bonus, major airline/hotel chain promo, etc. In other words, just because it’s interesting to you (a nice fc int’l flight), it probably won’t be that interesting to you.

    And, FWIW, I think BKK is a mediocre Asian destination. And the traffic can make the city somewhat unpleasant to visit. As a first time visitor, I’d recommend staying along the river. C&P at the Royal Orchid Sheraton is a very good option if you can get into their lounge. Because of the traffic, location matters a lot in BKK. By far the best thing to do in town is eat. I’d recommend the Ruen Urai for fine dining, and the Krua Apsorn for the best hole-in-the-wall Thai food I’ve ever had. It’s good that you’re meeting your mom there because you really want to dine with others in Thailand; this way you can try more dishes.

  26. Ok my 2 cents. I so empathize about your position with the family, kids in school, limited schedules, been there…heck, I am still there!

    I can understand the award booking service for a family trip. I do not understand it for ONE person award. I refuse to pay these guys for an award for just me…I feel like I ‘ve been around long enough to know I can do this myself!

    There are SO many trip reviews out there. Most bore me to death and just scan them. I may read one of a trip I may be taking in the future! But that’s all. After a while they all read the same…I do not agree a trip report enhances your precious brand. If you think so, make it a bit innovative because most trip reviews are super boring!

    Enjoy your trip!

  27. 1. You are wise in prioritizing your time by designating the award booking service to someone who can probably do it in half the time it will take most of us. You’re so so good with the mile/point earning niche, you know it, and you’ve chosen to free up your time to devote it to doing something that you’re specially outstandingly good. We should all be wise in recognizing we are not masters of all trades. My props to you, Greg
    2. But there’s nothing wrong with a travel/hotel review now and then. However, you know we come to your blog to learn about honing our mile earning skills 😉
    3. Enjoy Bangkok…it’s a moving smorgasbord!!

  28. The funniest thing is when people go on FT and ask for help about tickets. They say that they have tons of points across all the different programs. They are looking for advice on certain flights for first class of course.

    I’ve suggested that they use a service, especially since they’re trying to do a booking for people from different parts of the country etc.

    When I suggested the service, they get indignant and say they know how to book. I guess they read FT and Boarding Area a lot. Anyway, just because you read the blogs, that doesn’t make you an expert like some. Rules change etc. and they don’t necessarily have access to all of the tools available that the others do. And their time must be worth something.

    I’ve yet to use a service, but would do so for sure if it was something difficult.

  29. I am but a grasshopper compared to FM’s travel knowledged…I don’t care if he uses an award booker! But FM, keep your strength up…I’m looking forward your March blog. 🙂

  30. We’re heading to Bangkok in a few weeks as well. We were also there in November. This will be our 9th trip to Thailand and Bangkok is one of my favorite cities. This is an amazing hobby isn’t it ? Tons of SPG options at cash and points and a new W there. We’re on to Maldives from Thailand in March…

  31. FM, I will be in Bangkok for a day at the end of the week to position for RGN R3. Let me know if you want to do a mini meet up.

  32. Go to the Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel. It’s 60 floors above the city, with a great outdoor bar area. The views really give you a great perspective on the layout of the city; and the birds eye view will help you see just how big Bangkok is!

  33. I’m so disappointed.

    You’re going to Bangkok with your mother? Your MOTHER!?

    I’ll be in Soi Cowboy assuaging my disappointment. 😉

    Seriously, I hope you’re flying out Thai. The one hour massage is the best ground service amenity in the world.

  34. Haha, will be in bangkok on Sunday-Monday myself! Please post any update by Friday afternoon (NY time) so I know what to do there lol. I’ll be going solo as well! Hit up go go bars?

  35. Was in Thailand from Jan 15-27 and Bangkok from Jan 23-27. Flew First on Cathay. First time to Thailand – I can promise you an amazing experience with the nicest people on the planet. I heard a lot about scams and never had an issue. The traffic sucks so take that into consideration – we always ended our sightseeing by 3 PM to avoid the masses. The prices – cheapest country I have been to.

    We stayed in an amazing Executive Suite at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok and it is a top tier hotel – and I’m writing this from the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong! You will have a great time in a great country with wonderful people. Enjoy!

    • Thanks everyone for the helpful suggestions!

      To those who recommended that I should not write trip reviews, let me address that here:

      I get it. I really do. I rarely do anything like a trip review. And, many of my readers consider that a good thing. I should stick with what people really want: new strategies for earning points & miles…

      That makes sense, but consider this: My rule for deciding what to write about is simple… 95% of the time what I write about is whatever is most interesting / exciting to me at the time. It just happens that creative point earning opportunities more often then not are the things that make the cut. Right now, though, my upcoming trip is the awesome thing on my mind, and so I’ll write about it. I won’t have pictures of menus and hot towels. I won’t drag the “trip report” out months after my trip. I won’t copy the format of other bloggers. My goal is to write quick little snippets about whatever I find most interesting / exciting at the time. All of the posts will be titled “Bangkok Bound: XXX” where XXX will be replaced with the topic. If you’re not interested, then skip them. I’ll be done with these in a week so you won’t have to suffer long. In the meantime, I hope to still crank out some informational posts. In other words, as much as possible, the Bangkok posts will be in addition to my regular content. We’ll see if I can really keep that up though…

  36. I will be visiting Bangkok for the first time this June. I will be looking forward for your report. Thanks for all the tips you have shared.

  37. I am staying at the W Bangkok now. It’s a beautiful property. Posted the same text below to FT.

    I can be picky and notice the small things but I am not that demanding when I stay. Here’s my data points. I’m not feeling terribly poetic so will keep my list, er, functional… YMMV

    – only one suite is ready so no upgrades for PLT
    – spa is not yet open
    – restaurant is great especially breakfast buffet (which I chose as my amenity)
    – wish the signage on items in the restaurant was better
    – rooms are awesome but no privacy if there are two of you
    – staff is attentive, friendly and mostly speak great english
    – lobby bar is awesome – prices are reasonable compared to any decent higher end Bangkok bar
    – you control lights / AC using an Archos tablet. The hotel is only two months old and this already looks dated. This seems like a peculiar choice IMHO: they will break, get dirty, become out of date very quickly.

    There’s something lovely about a new property.

    I’m a PLT 100 and no noticeable treats. I got some sweets/candies and a welcome card from the manager in my room when I got there which was a tasty welcome. I didn’t get a drink voucher at check-in as some people have reported.

    OK, time to finish breakfast and explore the neighborhood around the hotel and then I’m off to JJ market with some friends.

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