Exotic and beautiful Vietnam is an incredible travel destination. From the prospering modern city of Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon), to the beautiful beaches of Phu Quoc, across to the mountanous north inhabited by Hmong Hill People, Vietnam is a feast for the eyes and the senses. With some of the most delicious food in the world, very reasonable prices, and a very tourism friendly government, Vietnam is fast becoming a key stop on many travelers' South East Asia itinerary.
While no US airlines fly directly to Vietnam, many of their alliance partners do. For those with United Mileage Plus miles, Star Alliance partners that fly to Vietnam, usually connecting via their hubs include Eva Air, Asiana and of course Singapore Airlines. It is usually possible to find a number of dates of availability from US West Coast hubs into both Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat airport (SGN) as well as Hanoi's Noi Bai airport (HAN).
American Airlines OneWorld partners British Airways, Cathay Pacific and JAL all offer flights into Hanoi and HCMS, as do Delta's Skyteam partners Air France and China Eastern.
Excellent value and quality award redemptions can be found in Singapore business or suites class, and Cathay Pacific's excellent first class seats. Regardless of how you arrive to Vietnam, if possible try to take a free stopover en route in key hubs such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Teipei or Seoul.
You might be surprised, but really the art of optimizing miles and points involves knowing
when NOT to use them, and instead use cash. (Domestic US flights are often an example). While
AwardSecrets are huge fans of award travel, domestic Vietnamese flights are great
occasion to actually use cash. Vietnam Airlines operates
a ton of domestic (and regional) routes out of both Hanoi HAN and Ho Chi Minh City SGN. They have great service, frequent
flights to most of the key destinations in the area, and they're very economical.
A couple example one ways we found recently: Saigon (SGN)to Hanoi (HAN) for USD $74, SGN to Bangkok BKK for USD $62, and on Thai Air Asia HAN to Chiang Mai for USD $46.
With the growth in international tourism in Vietnam, the larger hotel programs have some very nice properties available to points travelers. In Hanoi, consider the Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake for 25,000 IHG points or USD $130 per night. In Ho Chi Minh City, we consider Park Hyatt Saigon one of the world's best hotels, a steal at 15k Hyatt Points or USD $222 per night. And for beach lovers, consider the JW Marriott Phu Quoc for 35K Marriott Bonvoy points or USD $276 per night.
We have 3 tips for what not to miss in Vietnam.
Tip #1: Pho - For breakfast, lunch or dinner. But definitely for breakfast. This brothy soup of noodles, herbs, meat is served everywhere and it's fabulous, healthy and cheap.
Tip #2: Hoi An - The beautiful town of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage site noted for its remarkable preservation as a 15th century South East Asian trading port. It's a pleasure to stroll Hoi An's lantern-lit streets at sunset and eat a delicious meal in a riverfront restaurant.
Tip #3: Saigon Vespa Tour - A great company called Vespa Adventures offers guided Vespa tours (with drivers) around Saigon's bustling street markets, tiny restaurants and chic speakeasies. It is cheap, fun and memorable. Highly recommended!