Trip Report: A weekend in Shanghai and Hong Kong from the USA

We may receive a commission when you use our links. Monkey Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Monkey Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Monkey Miles is also a Senior Advisor to Bilt Rewards Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Lie Flat seats. High Speed Trains. 5 star hotels. We did it for a few hundred bucks.

When you can use points to fly in comfort…the world suddenly becomes within reach. Even for a weekend. This is the main reason I started the #weekendwarrior series:  To illustrate what is possible, within reach, and inspire YOU to Go and See. The. World.

Stop making excuses of too little time, money, and the like.  You don’t need weeks of vacation to see a wonder of the world, 1000s of dollars to spend, you just need to be smart. Use my site, or (cough, cough) others, and expand your experience. If I can do it, so can you. I got an amazing amount of positive feedback after my weekend to Tokyo trip, and so…I did it again. This time my best friend and I jetted off to Shanghai for a few nights, and then routed back via Hong Kong.

The Planning

I wrote an longer post geared entirely towards the planning, but a quick overview goes like this. AA was offering cheap flights to Shanghai, roughly $330 a piece. At the time I was Executive Platinum and applied 2 System Wide Upgrades to our tickets which cleared a couple days in advance of flying. We knew we’d use points to stay the majority of the nights. Ultimately, we ended up paying for just one night at the Intercontinental Shanghai. All of the others were paid with points or free night certificates we had from holding credit cards.

In order to get back from Shanghai, I really wanted to be able to fly in first with Dave. We’d done it before from Tokyo on Japan First, and had an absolute blast. I had a bevy of Alaska miles and Dave was sitting pretty with Amex points – this brought Cathay to mind. As luck would have it, I searched via BA and found 1 seat in First back from Hong Kong, and also found a connecting flight from Shanghai. Since Alaska is the most restrictive, I used my points to lock it up. We were fortunate that another seat released and Dave transferred points from Amex to Asia miles to lock his seat down.

Widget not in any sidebars

The Flights:

Chicago to Shanghai

We flew AA Business Class on the 787-8 from Chicago to Shanghai in the mini cabin after my SWUs cleared. This set us back $330 ( I used Amex Points to book mine, roughly 20k). The reason I opted for this approach was how Amex flight ultimately code when credited to Alaska: I earned a mile for every mile flown.

We flew from Shanghai to Hong Kong on Cathay Dragon First

Hong Kong to Chicago in Cathay First

Points used:

  • Chicago to Shanghai = $330
  • Shanghai to Hong Kong to Chicago
    • 70k Alaska + $86
    • 130k Asia miles transferred from American Express

Widget not in any sidebars

The Hotels:


Originally we had planned to stay at the Intercontinental for 2 nights, and the Andaz for 1. I had a BOGO from Ambassador status, but it failed to arrive prior to departure. We flipped the nights around and stayed the first two at the Andaz, and the final night at the Intercontinental.

Hong Kong

The Intercontinental Hong Kong is unbelievably well located and perfect for a one night stay especially when your credit card gives you a free night anywhere in the world. We used one. It was glorious


  • Andaz
    • night one = Hyatt Credit Card Award Night
    • night two = 15k points
  • Intercontinental Ruijin
    • Paid rate of roughly $200
  • Intercontinental Hong Kong
    • Annual Night

Widget not in any sidebars

The Sites:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Result

We left Friday, came back on Wednesday, and had an unbelievable weekend.  You’re gone for such a short amount of time that you never adjust to the new time zone. In fact, because it’s so exciting, our adrenaline just pushed us through.  And who wouldn’t be absolutely stoked to grab a drink on top of the world at Ozone in the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong. B to the YAH!

Widget not in any sidebars

Wanna read more: Here’s all the reviews

 Affiliate link via Card Ratings

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card


The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based. 

Welcome Offer

60k Points after $4k spend in 3 months

Annual Fee


Points Earned

Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards

If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash , Ink Business Unlimited you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners

Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.

  • 3x on dining
    •  including eligible delivery services for takeout
  • 3x on select streaming services
  • 3x on online grocery purchases
    • (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Travel Portal
  • $50 Annual Credit on hotel stays purchased via Ultimate Rewards/Chase Travel
    • The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus
    • Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel Portal and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including primary rental car insurance, purchase protections, etc.
  • Points are transferrable to 13 Ultimate Rewards partners
  • Redeem in the Chase Travel center for 1.25 cents per point
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
    • Primary rental car coverage is my favorite

We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.

Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.

Main Cast: 

Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.

Supporting Cast:

Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on. 


  • […] with my buddy, Dave. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you the two of us like to take crazy weekend trips ( Shanghai ), but this time we’re going to go for a bit longer. We’ve been circling a few different […]

  • […] Wanna read more? Check out our Weekend Trip to Shanghai and Hong Kong from the USA […]

  • HLC May 22, 2018

    If you left Friday (arriving in Shanghai Saturday) and returned on Tuesday that’s only 3 nights…

    • Miles May 22, 2018

      Thanks for the catch – I updated!

  • Terence May 22, 2018

    Did you get distance-based earning booking AA flights via Amex Travel rather than fare-based? I often see AA reservations via Amex Travel coded into ‘Method: Fare’ as direct bookings.

    • Miles May 22, 2018

      Terence – it’s a little glitchy and this was back in November. If you’re crediting to AA they earn off the special fare chart – but a couple of my flights on aa that i credited to as earned full mile per mile when i booked via Amex travel. i haven’t done any this year so i can’t speak to how it’s still going, and as has devalued their partnership, so it may not still work. but worth a shot if you’d otherwise book a low fare bucket

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.