Estimated read time: 4 minutes and 52 seconds
Good morning from beautiful Beijing, China! This city has been on my bucket list for ages now, but it’s been challenging to get to because of China’s complex visa requirements.
Thankfully, there’s a cheat code that got me here with no visa required. But more on that in a sec 😉
🏃🏼♂️ Mike on the Move: My current favorite travel hack
One of my favorite travel experiences last year was my spontaneous trip to Shanghai, China. To say it blew my mind would be an understatement.
More accurately, it cracked my mind open like an egg and fried it on the scorching hot pavement in the culdesac that is my soul.
That’s why I had to do it again and come spend five days here in Beijing, the fascinating historic capital of China.
Since I’ve been in Mongolia for the last week, it was actually quite easy to fly to China.
I simply used United miles to book a nonstop flight on Air China, which only took around two hours.
As for booking accommodations in Beijing, that’s the real fun part…
Beijing is like Mecca for hotel nerds and travel hackers. There are SO MANY options with all of the major points programs that choosing one felt paralyzing at times…
First, I booked this Hyatt Category 1 UrCove hotel right near the Forbidden City, which only cots 5,000 points per night.
It’s hard to beat a 5-night stay in a great location for just 25,000 points.
I stayed at a UrCove hotel when I was in Shanghai and loved it, so I didn’t think twice about booking this one.
But last week, I realized that I am burning a LOT of Hyatt points on this trip…
In fact, aside from this hotel, I’m spending around 25 nights at Hyatt hotels on this trip alone. 😬
So, instead, I decided to mix things up and book a nicer hotel with more comfortable rooms, better amenities, and an even better location.
I landed on the Renaissance Hotel, a Marriott Bonvoy property located smack dab on the Wangfujing walking street.
Since I’m staying in Beijing for five nights, this was also a great way to maximize Marriott’s fifth-night free perk. 120,000 Marriott points is not a tiny chunk of points, but for a $1,000 stay, I consider it to be worthwhile.
In a place with such a drastic language barrier and challenging elements like staying connected and getting around, I always find it nice to stay at a full-service property like this - especially as a solo traveler.
But the real hack about this part of my trip is the fact that I entered China without a visa - again. 😏
You see, China has a lesser-known policy that allows travelers from 52 nationalities to transit through China for up to one week with no visa.
This, my friends, is my current favorite travel hack.
This process works as long as you meet these requirements:
You are a citizen of one of the 52 countries listed on this page
You must arrive from one country and exit to a third country
You can only stay for up to 144 hours (beginning at midnight AFTER you arrive)
You can only transit through certain cities, depending on the length of the transit (again, check this link for specific cities)
You must have proof of onward travel and proof of accommodation
When I arrived at Ulaanbaatar airport in Mongolia to check in, the Air China agent was confused and clearly had never heard of this policy before.
But I explained the situation, she called her boss over, and within five minutes, I had my boarding pass in hand - nice and easy!
If you want to have a shorter stay, you can also do a 72-hour transit through numerous other cities and a 24-hour transit through pretty much any city in China.
Honestly, this is one of the best travel hacks out there, in my opinion. Major cities in China are excellent places to use your points and miles for outsize value, and there is a LOT to see and do here.
The fact that you can enjoy a full week here without a visa only makes traveling here more appealing!
Would you travel to China for a week using this hack?
If not, tell me why.
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🏨 A new IHG brand is now bookable with points
If you’re an avid IHG fan like me, you may have seen properties dotted around the globe that look a little different from the rest of IHG’s hotels.
I’m talking about Iberostar, an all-inclusive brand of hotels that IHG partnered with a couple of years ago.
The strange thing about this partnership is that these properties have not been bookable with IHG points… until now, that is.
This is actually quite an exciting development, and I’ll tell you why.
There have been multiple places I’ve visited that IHG has ONLY Iberostar properties.
Since these weren’t bookable with points, there was no way to get outsize value from my IHG stays using perks like getting every fourth night free with this hotel credit card.
Now, however, that has changed.
For example, I visited Tenerife last year, where there are FIVE Iberostar hotels, like this one:
Given the high cash price of nice hotels in Tenerife, I was bummed that these places weren’t previously bookable with points.
And if 64k points sounds like a lot for a single night, that’s okay - there are also equally nice properties that cost fewer points, like this hotel on the stunning coast of Montenegro for 30-40k points per night. 👇
As an all-inclusive property, your points are getting you even more value than they normally do since they cover meals, drinks, and other activities.
I was already a fan of IHG, and in my opinion, this new update only further enhances the program. If you needed another reason to get involved with IHG’s loyalty program, here you go!
🌎 Sponsored by Babbel
We’re officially a week into the new year, and I gotta say… I haven’t fulfilled ANY of my New Year’s resolutions 😮
That’s also because I didn’t really make any…
But if you’ve got a goal to travel more in 2024, then I think learning a new language is the perfect thing to pair with that travel goal!
And you should know by now that Babbel can help you get started.
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So make the most of the New Year not only by planning some awesome trips, but also by picking up a few friendly phrases to impress the locals.
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Happy 2024 to us! 🧡
If you’re a “Who’s Line” fan then you should find this funny
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That’s all for today, folks. I hope some of you decide to come to China sometime this year - It’s an amazing place to experience, especially with the hassle-free entry hack.
But for now, I’ll let you all go. Have a wonderful day, and I’ll see you first thing tomorrow ❤️