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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
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.

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Points Guy Assessment:

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great pick for the beginner and the frequent traveler. The CSP has superb travel benefits, double points on certain purchases, and a 50,000 point sign up bonus. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year so this puts it as one of the less expensive cards, while still allowing you to earn one of the most valuable point currencies.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • 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®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.