Vacation planning – An Example

Last blog post I promised to give an example of a trip I took so you could understand how I like to travel and if my travel tips will be worth your time reading.  Come along with me as I tell you about my epic trip to Hong Kong, Macau, and Manila.

Being mindful of full disclosure, I have to tell you that My Mister and I took this trip in  2009.  So why am I writing about it?  Like I said in the previous paragraph, I wanted to give you an example.

Let me also tell you one of my mantras:  Get the best level of service for the best price.  I’ll explain how I did that with this trip.


OMG!  We got such a good deal!  Hawaiian Airlines had a special where if you did 10 inter-island trips between any of their Hawaii destinations, you got a free trip to Manila.  To be honest, Manila had never been on our vacation radar, but we couldn’t pass up a free trip.  We booked the free trip and then used our airline miles to upgrade to business class.

We decided to travel on from Manila to a destination that we were interested in.  We did our research on the internet and found a deal on Philippine Airlines: 400 something dollars (sorry, can’t remember the exact price.  It was 7 years ago.) for round-trip business class from Manila to Hong Kong.  When we went to book it, we found out that we could fly into Macau, then out of Hong Kong.


Manila – We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria.  It was connected to a shopping mall, so we wouldn’t have to worry about shopping or meals (I had my hair done at one of the salons in the mall and it felt amazing to have 3 stylists work on you at the same time.)  We got a king bed executive suite room for about $150 a night.  This included the club lounge with complimentary breakfast in the morning and appetizers and drinks in the evening.  We stayed here 4 nights.

Macau – We had heard that the Venetian Macau had the largest casino in the world and we wanted to check it out.  We stayed in a Bella Suite which had 2 queen sized beds.  We found a good deal on and the price was about $140 a night.  Our hotel package also included breakfast.  We stayed here 2 nights.

Hong Kong – We stayed at Courtyard Marriott Hong Kong.  I had enough Marriott Rewards Points to pay for our entire 5 night stay in a Deluxe Harbor room.  Breakfast was included at this hotel as well.


We did a lot of activities in each location, but let me just tell you about a couple of our deals.

  • Ferry from Macau to Hong Kong – We decided to purchase our tickets at the ferry office since the ferries left at least every half hour.  When we got to the ferry office, we said that we wanted to purchase 2 tickets and were told that the ferry was sold out and that we would have to wait for the next ferry.  I asked about first class seats and we were able to get on the ferry right away.  First class tickets were only $100 Hong Kong dollars (about $12.50 USD) more than regular tickets.  Our seats were on the upper deck and we had a table to ourselves.  In fact, there was only one other couple on the entire upper deck.  Food and beverages were also included in the first class fare.  We were escorted to our seats by one of the boat staff, who also took our luggage and stored it for us.  When the boat arrived in Hong Kong, that same staff came upstairs for us and escorted us off the boat with our luggage.  We were able to depart the boat first.  The regular class customers had to wait until we got off the boat before they were able to leave.  I’d say that whole experience was worth an extra $12.50.
  • Ngong Ping 360 cable car to Lantau Island – This cable car was in Hong Kong.  We took it to Ngong Ping Village to see the Tian Tan Buddha.  We purchased tickets for the standard cabin.  When we went to stand in line to board the cable car, the wait was about 1 hour.  We noticed that the wait for the crystal cabin with the glass bottom was only about 5 minutes.  We went back to the ticket office and exchanged our standard cabin tickets for crystal cabin tickets which only cost about $9 USD more.  To me, the time we saved was worth the extra $9.

We got a lot of good deals on our trip and I feel that we got the best level of service for the best deal.  It took a lot of research to make our trip epic, but it was definitely worth it.

With next week’s blog post, I’ll go into my philosophies about vacation planning.  I use these philosophies to accomplish my mantra of getting the best level of service for the best deal.

Have you gotten good deals with your vacations.  I’d love to hear about how you got the best level of service for the best deal.  Please feel free to comment below.


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