Kyoto, Japan

Visited April 2015


List Prices                   

Airfare: $10,431

Hotel: $320

Ground Transport: $5

Meal: $45

I Paid

Airfare: $51

Hotel: $0

Ground Transport: $5

Meal: $45

AIRFARE- 62,500 miles + $51 instead of $10,431

For only 62,500 American Airlines miles and $51 in ticketing fees, I got a first-class seat on JAL that normally costs more than $10,431 each way. Frequent flyer programs are constantly changing, but for right now AA has a very attractive award chart for first-class trips to Asia. The redemption works out $0.17 per mile, an extremely attractive valuation, especially if you consider that even with a decent promotion of 35% off it only costs about $0.02 per mile to purchase them outright. I wrote a handy guide on how to book these types of awards with American Airlines.


I signed up for Citi's Executive Aadvantage Card, a serious traveler's card that comes with a hefty $450/year fee and access to the Admiral's Club Lounges, along with a few other benefits. As of this writing, Citi is offering a promotional 75,000 mile bonus for meeting their initial spending criteria; more than enough for one ticket. (UPDATE: As of late 2016, this car now offers 50,000 miles as signup bonus).

When you're far from global hotel chains (like in Kyoto, where there's only a Hyatt Regency that's always booked and a few Crowne Plazas that are roughly the equivalent of Motel 6's) it's very useful to have a hotels.com account. Stay at any of their hotels, whether they are members of a global hotel network or not, and earn free nights. I stayed at the Crown Prince Kyoto, a local chain that was totally decent.

HOTEL- 10 stays = 1 free on hotels.com


Kyoto has a simple and (somewhat) intuitive subway system (a decent guide can be found here). The price varies a bit by origin and destination, but 

RESTAURANT- $45 Bento Box lunch

Hyotei's Bento Box- ¥5,400 (about $45)

Hyotei's Bento Box- ¥5,400 (about $45)

Though their lunch and dinner Kaiseki menus can run well over 20,o00 yen (~$200), the restaurant offers a very handsome and reasonably-priced lunch Bento Box for only 5,400. 

Call far in advance (or, much easier: have your hotel concierge call to book) and make sure to specify the lunch bento box menu when booking. 





Start a hotels.com account- simple walkthrough here


Reach the spend minimum for the Citi Executive Aadvantage Card, collect 75,000 miles


Follow this Walkthrough to actually book the tickets- it's super straightforward


Have your hotel in Japan make the reservation with Hyotei

If you have any questions at all, contact me here. Would love to talk about this with you!