June 6th, 2016

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After spending a few days exploring Hanoi and learning how to cook my favorite Vietnamese dish, it was time to leave the bustling city behind and explore Vietnam’s natural side.

Located about a four-hour drive from Hanoi, Ha Long Bay is a beautiful coastal area consisting of roughly 2,000 islands that’s been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994. I was excited to embark on an overnight cruise and spend two days checking out the sights and getting to know the locals. Watch the latest episode of TPGtv below to see how it went!

Getting from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay was pretty easy thanks to a $385 one-way flight on a seaplane run by Hai Au Aviation, which I booked with my Platinum Card from American Express. I only earned 1 Amex Membership Rewards point per dollar for this one, but chose to use this card because of all the travel protection I’d receive from American Express.

I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to book a two-day cruise package with Indochina Sails on a luxurious junk ship — the $558 total ended up earning me 1,116 Chase Ultimate Rewards points since the card gives you 2x points on travel, including cruises. My cruise package included an overnight stay in a suite onboard the ship, complete with a full-sized bathroom, jacuzzi tub, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and a private balcony.

I know it's been a few months, but I'm still thinking about that view.
I’m still thinking about that view.

I had so much fun sailing around Ha Long Bay and getting a chance to see some of the islands — most had cool names, too, like The Finger, Incense Burning Island and Fighting Cock Island just to name a few. We also had a unique opportunity during an afternoon excursion to visit the Cua Van Floating Fishing Village, a local Vietnamese community that lives in houseboats and runs a fish farm in Ha Long Bay. I spoke to some people there who told us about the area and recommended we also check out Surprise Cave, Tree Cave and Jungle Cave, three hidden caves on three of the islands, all popular stops on the Ha Long Bay tourist trail.

I loved chatting with new friends as we explored the islands of Ha Long Bay.
I chatted with new friends as we visited the Cua Van Floating Fishing Village.

Despite a brief tumble as we exited the boat and stepped onto the slippery dock — which I wasn’t too worried about since I knew my nifty $249 annual trip insurance policy from Allianz had my back just in case! — I had a great time on this overnight cruise! I’d definitely recommend a trip to Ha Long Bay if you’re ever thinking of visiting Vietnam, and I hope to travel here again soon.

Can’t wait to see what I’m working on next? Follow along with all my travel adventures on Facebook, TwitterInstagram and Snapchat for a behind-the-scenes look at what’s coming up on TPGtv, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Points Guy on YouTube — you’ll be notified as soon as each new episode appears.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
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