Mother-Daughter Trip to Vietnam series
How much did it cost?
- HKG→ HAN (Ha Noi) via Hong Kong Airlines business class
- – 26,125 Barclay points (after 5% rebate)
- – Retail value: $275
- SGN (Saigon) –>ORD in Korean Air Business Class
- 80,000 Delta miles
- Annual Fee for American Express Delta Card: $0
- Taxes and fees: $66.66
- Retail value $3,226
- SFO→ HAN via United First Class and Asiana Business Class
- 80,000 United miles
- Taxes and fees: $14.70
- Annual Fee for Chase United Card: $95
- Retail value is $7,973
- SGN –>SFO Cathay Business Class
- 70,000 AA miles
- Annual Fee for Citi Business Card: $0
- Taxes and fees: $82.36
- Retail $5,213
Total costs for multi-city flights for 2 people in premium classes: $216.72 or $108.36 per person. Retail value: $28,314
Sometimes I pay even more for my brother to fly from SoCal to NorCal.
How Did I Do It?
1. Barclays Arrival Plus card: Earn 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months but it was 50,000 miles when I applied last year, that was enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit. The $89 AF is waived the first year. There’s also 5% redemption rebate. .
2. Citi Business Card: current offer is 30,000 miles after $1,000, first AF $0 then subsequently $95. It was 60,000 miles when I applied last year. The remaining miles were achieved through AA online shopping portal, which I will write in another post.
3. Chase United card: current offer is 40,000 miles after spending $2,000 whereas when I applied, it was 50,000 miles. I had additional miles from doing surveys and transferred the rest from my IHG account when it had a 50% bonus deal with United. AF $95
4. Amex Gold Delta Skymiles card: current offer is obtain 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in 3 months. When we applied last year, it was 75,000 miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months. AF $0 first year then $95.
I burned most of my miles on this trip or the honeymoon wouldn’t have cost $5,000. Regardless, I made a trip to Vietnam in 13 years and this was the first mother-daughter trip back to the motherland since we left in the mid 1990s. My mom enjoyed the premium experiences so much that she no longer wants to fly economy internationally. Oh, how I’ve spoiled her.
She accidentally deleted most photos so these are the only ones left.
Though she flew first class with United and business with Cathay, she preferred the latter, which is not surprising at all.
While in Vietnam, we stayed at my aunt’s house so didn’t waste any hotel points.
Long before the engagement, I always believed in paying for all of my bridesmaids’ expenses, from clothes, hair/makeup, to hotel rooms. I couldn’t find discounts for the latter two so decided to use miles to fly to VN for wedding shopping to offset some costs.
I had 3 custom made traditional dresses (ao dai) and 3 bridesmaid dresses for my girls. It cost 600,000 VND each x 6= 3,600,000 ~ $160 USD
Their accessories: 50,000 x 3= 150,000VND ~$10 USD
3 groomsmen’s ao dai were 1,000,000 VND ~$44 total
Tran’s ao dai cost 500,000 VND (~$22) while my wedding ao dai was a gift from a cousin-in-law. It would’ve cost 3,600,000 VND or ~$160
Here is the wedding party in the traditional Vietnamese wedding attire. Don’t we look amazing?
The traditional dresses for my flower girls were 1,000,000 VND or $44.
Three kimonos for the girls cost $30 total while mine was a gift from a close friend.
My three dresses + veil cost about $150 total
I spent $460 on all the clothes for the entire wedding party, including my 3 beautiful dresses. Not bad, right? Well worth the trip to Vietnam in my opinion.
While there, I also got custom-made invitations that set us back 13,000 VND ~ $0.57 each.
I initially fell in love with this gorgeous dress. However, upon hearing that it was $1,200, I immediately walked away. I don’t believe in spending that much for a dress that is worn only once, especially for that price in a third world country. At least with shoes I could wear them again and again to worth the investment. To be honest, I did have second thoughts and even discussed buying it a few days later with Tran. He didn’t straight out reject the idea but said I shouldn’t spend that much money on one dress. Sometimes his frugal ways annoy me but I’m glad I didn’t come back. I enjoyed wearing my three cheaper dresses so much more because I didn’t have to worry about getting them dirty or torn on the wedding day. I didn’t even bother dry-cleaning them after the wedding. Dry cleaning probably costs more than the retail price.
Gentlemen, sometimes you need to put your foot down when your ladies want to purchase ridiculous and expensive items like wedding dresses. =)
Basically, by making a trip to Vietnam, we saved a lot of money on clothes and invitations in order to splurge on hiring amazing vendors to ensure a relatively stress-free wedding. I’m glad I decided against a DIY wedding.