How to Hack the Chinese and Russian Letters of Introduction

(note: this post was updated in 2019)

After routing our Round the World Trip on Delta, we had to figure out what to do in the four cities we had booked. Where would stay on our RTW trip and what would we do? With three eager folks excited to go, we decided to divvy up our itinerary and share the work load.




Steve, the husband, would take Stockholm, I would take Moscow and Beijing, and Kelly, the daughter, would take Athens. We also had to think through where to use our Marriott, Starwood, and Hilton points logically and appropriately. I decided to focus on hacking miles to stay in Bejing.

Russian and Chinese Immigration Letters

IMG_0524Both Russia and China have very particular rules about the types of information we would need to provide to Immigration regarding our stays. They both state clearly that we must supply proof of stay, address of stay, and proof of exit. If we stay in hotels, hotel confirmation is enough. But if we stay in another type of accommodation, we would need letters and the host would need to provide proof of citizen, etc. Therefore, we thought it would be good to use our various points for hotels in Beijing and Moscow. The thought was that we could easily book online with points and provide our confirmation letters as evidence.

I took a look at the point balances we had. First we had two Marriott certificates that we could use at any hotel category. Plus, we had about 50,000 Marriott points. Hilton’s balance was minimal, and Starwood’s was a step above minimal. Clearly, Hilton and Starwood weren’t going to get us far; we’d have to count on Marriott.

IMG_0534We then took a look at the points needed to stay in Beijing. Marriott has several very nice properties around Tiannamen Square, which were point and/or certificate affordable. On the other hand, Moscow’s were neither. So, we decided to focus our Marriott points toward Beijing.

Booking Marriott Points Is Easy

Our itinerary gets us into Beijing at 1:30 a.m. We depart four days later at 1:30 p.m. What would we do? Of course The Great Wall, Tiannamen Square, the silk factory, and the Chinese flea market were on the list. What could we do with our other time? I researched places near Beijing, and discovered we could take an overnight train to Xian to see the Terra Cotta warriors. Not only would this resolve a night’s stay, but we’d get to cross off a World Heritage site off the bucket list! Plus, we could take an overnight train back as well. Thus, we would only need two night’s stay in Beijing. Score!

Booking the Marriott certificate stays were simple at In less than five minutes, I had our nights booked and confirmation letters via email. Next up is to book the train travel.

Anyone read Chinese?


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handsome hiking couple

Chris and Steve, the empty-nesting nomads, travel the world, one month at a time, housesitting and Airbnbing along the way. We uncover urban walks, great hikes, and vegan/vegetarian eats that other guide books miss. And we throw in a bit about Forex trading along the way.

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