Review: Intercontinental Singapore Robertson Quay King Studio

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After seeing the Lamborghini, Ferarri and Rolls Royce parked outside the Intercontinental Singapore Robertson Quay, I took the elevator up to the 4th floor hotel lobby. In the elevator, I asked the concierge: “Is the ‘1880’ on the 3rd floor a hotel restaurant?”

“No sir, it’s a private club”. That pretty much gave me a good idea of what to expect at this hotel, even before I stepped into the hotel lobby decked with marble floor and walls with glossy black accents. Unlike its sister hotel the heritage-oriented Intercontinental Singapore at Bugis, the IC at Robertson Quay is all about being upscale and classy.

You’ll see a lot of marble in this hotel


Hotel Location

As its name suggests, this Intercontinental is located along Robertson Quay along the Singapore river. Newly opened on 12th October 2017, it is a complete remodel of the previous Gallery Hotel. It’s about a short 10 minute walk from the Fort Canning Station of the newly-opened Downtown Line MRT train line, and pretty inaccessible by bus, though I expect most visitors to this 5-star hotel, in an area with more expatriates than locals, would be taking a taxi/cab (Get some free credits to use for the taxi/cab apps in Singapore here!). Along the quay there are plenty of bars and restaurants, and in the morning you would be spoiled for choices for western-style breakfast and at night, the quay lights up and revs up with the sound of sports matches being shown on the large-screen TVs in the numerous bars.

The lobby lounge

It’s also a walk away from Fort Canning Park, one of the bigger parks in the downtown of Singapore, and also a walk away from Clarke Quay, where another group of nightlife bars and clubs are located.


You’ll see mirrors everywhere too. Everywhere.



20171021_154337.jpgLeather, leather, leather. It was on the handle bars in the elevator, and now it’s everywhere in the room. The lounge chair is leather (there’s no office table/chair), the room service menu is leather-bound, the tissue box is leather-bound, the toiletries drawer is leather-bound, the…. you get the idea. Also, mirrors. Almost every surface in the hotel lobby, corridor and room has either a mirror or a shiny finish on it, probably to make the space look bigger.

Yes, even the tissue box is leather-bound

The room has a modern elegant interior design, with lots of glossy black panels and wood laminates. As I’ve mentioned there’s no office table or chair, in lieu of a leather bench built into the wall. The sole circular table has a glossy top that unfortunately doesn’t work with laptop mice. Otherwise, it’s a pretty small but cozy room, though the interior designer has managed to squeeze a lot of functionality into the room. The room is definitely smaller than at the Intercontinental Singapore at Bugis, and the toilet and shower are two separate rooms. By the way, the toilet door has no lock, and the shower door is translucent (half-mirrored, I think).

Mirror, mirror, on my bathroom door…
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IHG Connect is an excellent way of connecting to in-room wifi

The Wifi in the room is very fast at about 25mbps, and has a new design where you only need to enter your email or IHG member number, instead of needing to log in with your room number. Very handy, as it will connect instantly the next visit without having to re-enter login details. The welcome amenity of 600 points posted quickly for me by that night.

Welcome amenity, and a welcome postcard with scribbly handwriting šŸ™‚

When I arrived my Ambassador amenity was already on the table, a plate of fruits and a tin of Gryphon tea. Speaking of which, the concierge was very keen to highlight to me that they used Gryphon tea unlike the TWG tea used in the other Singapore IHG hotels. Gryphon tea, I was informed, is almost 100 years old (under parent company Lim Lam Thye), unlike TWG which launched in 2008 (even though it seemingly uses the year ‘1837’ in all its branding). The Gryphon tea in the room was of the “Monogram” series, which I can supposedly mix-and-match two different tea bags to make interesting blends. Another interesting addition to this hotel is a cocktail mixer along with ready-made cocktail blends, which I was told is made fresh from the hotel’s Marcello bar.


Fancy making cocktails in your room? (Yes, again, the box is leather-bound)

The towels, blankets and bedsheets were all very soft and extremely comfortable (maybe it’s because I’m the first one to use them?), and the soundproofing is sufficient except for the occasional time when I could hear the neighbor’s phone ringing. As is becoming standard, the room has a large flat-screen LCD TV, but unfortunately I couldn’t connect my laptop to the LG TV because it didn’t support wireless display and its HDMI port was pretty inaccessible – it’s times like this that I like Hyatt’s Plug Panel. Sound is provided nicely by a Bose soundbar. Shades and blinds are controlled electronically by a switch at the bedside, and there’s a USB (type A) port too. For tourists, there’s also a ‘Handy’ phone which provides information on toursit attractions and has free calls too.


Food and Facilities

This time, I didn’t opt for club access. However, I did manage to take some photos of the club lounge on the 4th floor, which I’m told has a seating capacity of 70. As usual, there’s tea time, happy hour and breakfast at the lounge. While the Publicio restaurant is not open yet (though it looks almost ready), the Publicio Deli is open for western-style breakfast and deli food (read a review about it here).Ā There’s also a Marcello bar on the first floor, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse (which I’ve come to realize is not the same as Wolfgang Puck’s Cut restaurant at Marina Bay Sands – read a review here), Ishi Dining & Bar and Plum & Toro on the second floor.

Club lounge seats up to 70
Food during tea time
Fancy chess board

The pool is located on the 4th floor beside the lounge, and is good for leisurely swims as it’s not that big. However, I personally thought it would have been better as a rooftop pool. Currently, I’m told that there are some renovations planned for the rooftop, and when I went up to take a look, the rooftop offered panoramic views of the Robertson Quay area and I could even see the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands, so it seemed quite a waste that there was nothing on the rooftop for now. I can’t wait to see what they plan to build on top.

The rather empty rooftop
Panoramic view from the rooftop


Final Impressions

I think the Intercontinental Singapore Robertson Quay appeals to a very specific type of traveller – someone who values classy and cozy accomodation, excellent service (everyone at the hotel were very courteous and helpful), and an expat-like life along Robertson Quay. It’s great as a home away from home.

Pool beside the hotel lobby
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Review – Intercontinental Singapore Deluxe Room

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Intercontinental Singapore is the highest-tier luxury hotel of the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) in Singapore, and has two types of rooms: classic elegance and heritage-style rooms that overlook Bugis street market. The hotel was recently renovated in 2016. I recently stayed at at the Deluxe Room in IC Singapore on my first stay as a Platinum Ambassador elite member, and earned more than 45,000 IHG points as part of the Accelerate promotionĀ and the Book Direct promotion. With IHG points valued at about 0.6 U.S. cents per point, that’s about US$270 worth of points that I earned and makes this stay almost free.

Hotel Location

The IC-SG is integrated with Bugis Junction at 80 Middle Road, and hence is also linked via a fully-airconditioned route to the Bugis MRT, which is easy accessible by the green East-West train line from Changi Airport. It is near popular cultural attractions like Bugis, Bras Basah and Arab street, while other tourist attractions like Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay are only a couple of MRT stations (or a short taxi ride) away from the hotel. Click here to check out some freebies like free taxi rides that you can get while traveling in Singapore.

Check-in area at Intercontinental Singapore



In addition to the one-category upgrade that I received as an Ambassador member, I was also given a “business package” that included free breakfast for two and two free laundry washes, which I very much appreciated. I was given an Ambassador amenity (an Intercontinental Singapore keychain), and also offered either 600 points amenity or a drinks voucher.


My room on the 15th floor was bright, comfy and overlooked the Bugis area. I could even see the Andaz Singapore (opening on 5th December 2017. Maybe future stay?) from my room. The room had a 42 inch LCD TV with HDMI ports, while the work desk and bedside had USB connectors to charge my mobile phone and accessories. The room itself sports a classic elegant design, with decorative pillars, gold trims on the ceiling and marble flooring.

Room with a view

I also got two bottles of water and a plate of fruits in the room. Tap water in Singapore is perfectly portable and drinkable, but the Evian water is nice. There’s also coffee and TWG-branded tea in room.

Fruit platter and 2 bottles of water for Ambassador members
Ambassador amenity – a specially designed IC Singapore keychain

The bathroom was large with separate areas for the bathtub and shower. Bathroom soap was of the Agraria brand which I last saw at the Intercontinental Sydney.Ā The premium internet provided was decent with 10mbps upload/download speeds.




Like most 5-star hotels, the IC Singapore has a pool and fitness facilities. Of course, I skipped all those and went ahead to dine at Ash & Elm, their award-winning restaurant. By the way, hotel guests get 20% off dining at their restaurants. The restaurant has a concept of three different types of food preparation (culinary theatres, as they call it): the Charcuterie and Cheese room (which you can experience during breakfast here), the Wood-fired Oven, and the Open Kitchen grill. I’d recommend everyone to try one from each category. As part of dinner, they serve bread from the Wood-fired oven, and the pork steak from their open kitchen grill is also delectable, as I watched them prepare it from their open kitchen.


In the morning, the same restaurant transforms into a buffet-style breakfast dining area, with fresh foods, an omelette station and lots of local foods ranging from Chinese Dim Sum to Indian rice, alongside the usual Western food options. The croissants are delicious, as are the smoked salmon and ham. There is also bottles of freshly squeezed juice, of which I’d recommend the carrot juice šŸ™‚


The Intercontinental Singapore also has a Chinese restaurant Man Fu Yuan, the Lobby Lounge, the Victoria Bar, and the Japanese restaurant Chikuyotei.


Final Impressions

You can’t go wrong staying with the Intercontinental Singapore, which is in central Singapore near many tourist attractions. If you’re looking to shop, probaby a hotel in Orchard would be better, but for cultural attractions and the newer sightseeing places like Gardens by the Bay, this is a good hotel to be at.

If you’re booking an IHG hotel, remember to use the Shopback (for Singaporeans) or TopCashBack cashback portals to get extra cashback on your hotel booking!

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Future HDB Site: Rail Corridor at Choa Chu Kang

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I’m starting a new series on potential future HDB (Housing & Development Board) property sites, for fun, and I’m starting with future property sites near the Rail Corridor.


The Singapore Rail Corridor

The Rail Corridor was built in 1903 and was used for the KTM Railway line that extended from Tanjong Pagar in Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. From 1st July 2011, most of the Rail Corridor was closed, leaving only the Woodlands checkpoint as the only KTM station in Singapore.

In 2015, the URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) unveiled plans to redevelop the rail corridor as a “green corridor”, to preserve the flora & fauna while connecting people to the green space.

Source: URA

Integrated Housing Precinct at Choa Chu Kang

The section that is beside Choa Chu Kang has a plan for an Integrated Housing Precint, and the concept plan was won by MKPL.

In their own words, “The Choa Chu Kang section of the Rail Corridor is envisioned as a pilot ground for a truly integrated development, combining the design and planning of parks and open space, landscape, infrastructure and housing. With intensive and creative use of land, the barren rail corridor and existing concrete drain is transformed into key landscape elements, returning more green open space to the community.” It appears that there will be HDB blocks that will be 30-40 storeys high, with multiple sky gardens at different levels similar to the award-winning Dawson and Pinnacle@Duxton public housing projects. Furthermore, the current tall trees at the Rail Corridor will be kept, allowing the housing blocks to “float” above the tree canopies.

Sky gardens similar to Dawson and Pinnacle@Duxton

Furthermore, if we look at the site where this housing estate will be, it’s only 250 meters away from the Bukit Panjang MRT, right beside Junction 10, and walking distance to the Hillion Mall and the Bukit Panjang Plaza mall.

250m from Bukit Panjang MRT

Also, judging by the concept plan, the nearby Pang Sua canal will also be naturalized at that section to become a green part of the estate (instead of just a concrete drainage canal), similar to what was done to the Bishan-AMK Park.

Naturalized Canal from MKPL concept art
Bishan-AMK Park. Source:Ā Ramboll

Among the amenities proposed at this site in the concept plan are: town center, library, supermarkets & shops, and childcare/education/elderly centers. This housing project and its proposed amenities would also benefit nearby HDB flats at Jln Teck Whye and Senja Road.

Overall, this looks like a really exciting public housing project if the concept plan is ever carried out, and would be an amazing premium housing project in Choa Chu Kang! More pictures from MKPL concept plan below. If you want me to review any other future HDB sites in Singapore, let me know in the comments!





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Best Brokerage For Buying Stocks in Singapore (July – December 2017)

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Update: Promotion extended to 31 December 2017!

Currently, the best online brokerage for buying stocks in Singapore charges only 0.06% commission with a minimum of $5, from now till 31 December 2017 (this may be extended). I could give you a huge comparison table of all the cheapest brokerages in Singapore, but I’m just gonna tell you the answer immediately:

The lowest cost brokerage for buying stocks in Singapore currently is DBS Vickers Cash Upfront.

Why? Becuase of their current promotion from now until end of 2017. However, to get the 0.06% commission rate, you must read the terms and conditions of the promotion carefully:

  • TheĀ promotional commission rate of 0.12%, minimum S$10 is applicable to all cash upfront trades executed via DBS/POSB iBanking.
  • This is only applicable for Singapore stocks
  • Eligible clients are entitled to a SGD5 rebate per trade executed online. The Promotion is applicable to Singapore and foreign market trades executed online via, mobile trading and/or DBS/POSB iBanking.
  • This Promotion is applicable to cash and cash upfront accounts. Trades executed with CPF and/or SRS funds are eligible for this Promotion.

So, if you’ve read the above terms properly, you get the lowest 0.06% commission rate when you buy more than $8333.33 of stocks, generating a $10 commission and a $5 rebate for a net $5 in commission ($5/$8333.33 = 0.06%)!

However, take note of the following:

  • You must use your DBS VickersĀ CASH UPFRONT account, not the normal cash account. This means you have to deposit money to the Cash Upfront account through DBS/POSB, and however much money you deposit will be how much stocks you can buy.
  • The current DBS Vickers Cash Upfront user interface is NOT user-friendly. That account cannot be accessed using their mobile apps, and can only be accessed through DBS/POSB i-Banking.
  • One great thing I love about the Cash Upfront account is that unlike other “custodian”-type brokerages that charge fees for holding your stock, the Cash Upfront account deposits your stocks into your CDP (Central Depository) account, so that means you are still eligible to go for AGMs (Annual General Meetings)!
  • DBS Vickers Cash Upfront account can only be used to BUY stocks, not sell stocks (the only exception is contra, where you sell stocks within the 3-day settlement period since the stocks have not been deposited into your CDP account yet). This means that you will need to use the normal DBS Vickers Cash account (or any other broker that is linked to your CDP acocunt) to sell your stocks eventually. Currently the rate is 0.28% with a minimum of $25 for selling Singapore stocks.
  • Trades will automatically be amalgamated when the trades are of the same stock, currency, settlement mode and trade date as well as the same mode of trade.Ā This means that if you execute two buy orders of the same stock at $8333.33, the commission will be combined into $20 but you may only get one $5 rebate. So if you need to buy lots of stocks, do it on different days.

Happy trading!

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AMEX Krisflyer 18,000 Points Signup Bonus (ends 10 April 2017 for first 300 applicants)

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American Express Singapore is offering its highest signup bonus ever for its Singapore Airlines Krisflyer credit card – up to 18,000 bonus Krisflyer miles! (ends 10 April 2017 for first 300 applicants only)

The publicly available highest offer is 15,000 bonus points, but by using my referral link, you can get up to 18,000 bonus Krisflyer miles! Apply for it here.

The 18,000 bonus Krisflyer miles consist of:

  1. “Receive a bonus of 5,000 KrisFlyer miles the very first time you charge to your Card”
  2. “Apply by 10th April 2017 to receive additional 5,000 KrisFlyer miles.”
  3. “Earn additional 5,000 sign up bonus KrisFlyer miles when you spend S$2,500 in the first 3 months upon Card approval. Apply and receive approval between 1st April and 30th June 2017 (both dates inclusive) to be eligible.”
  4. “Earn an additional welcome bonus of 3,000 KrisFlyer miles only through this Referral Programme when you spend a minimum of S$50 in the first 1 month upon Card approval.”


Some benefits of the American Express Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Credit Card:

  1. Earn 1.1 KrisFlyer mile for every S$1 spent on all your eligible purchases with your Card
  2. Earn 2 KrisFlyer miles for every S$1 equivalent in foreign currency spent overseas on eligible purchases during June and December.
  3. Earn 2 KrisFlyer miles for every S$1 spent on eligible purchases made on,, KrisShop and at SilkAir SkyShop, both in-flight and online.
  4. Receive S$150 Cashback for use on your next purchase on when you spend S$12,000 on eligible purchases with your Card from now till 30 June 2017.
  5. Krisflyer miles are deposited directly into your SQ Krisflyer account. To me, this is the best feature because other banks’ credit cards like DBS (Altitude card) and Citibank (PremierMiles card) earn “points” that you have to convert to Krisflyer miles for a “subscription/admin fee” of about $40/year!


Do note that the welcome bonus is only applicable to first time applicants of any co-branded American Express Singapore Airlines Credit Card (so it doesn’t count if you had the card before but cancelled it).


Apply for the American Express Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Credit Card now for the 18,000 bonus Krisflyer miles (first 300 applicants only)!


Detailed Terms & Conditions:

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Note: I may get a commission from the referral links.

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Review: Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong – Premier King Room with Bath

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Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong – Premier King Room with Bath

Hotel Indigo is the boutique hotelĀ chain of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), and these hotels are designed to reflect the local culture and history of their country or neighborhood. Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong (opened in 2016) is no different, and itĀ brings the Peranakan culture and heritage of Singapore into a modern, brand new hotel. A bathtub in the room, a panoramic view of the Katong skyline, and an infinity pool is a rare combination in a hotel room in a 4-star hotel in Singapore.


Hotel Location

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Entrance to Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong

Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong is located atĀ 86 E Coast Rd, Singapore 428788. It is beside its sister hotel, Holiday Inn Express Singapore Katong. It is accessible by public buses but not by trains (at least, until the Year 2023 when the Marine Parade MRT station opens). So, taxi is recommended if you are bringing luggage.


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Reception Area

There is the 112 Katong mall beside the hotel, though you would fare much better exploring East Coast Road, where there are hipster cafes in the day and bars at night. Famous food stalls such as 328 Katong Laksa are also located along this street.

The hotel is also a walk away to East Coast Park, which offers a nice sea view and cycling options.



I booked the Premier King Room with Bath, which is the most expensive room available. However, I believe this room actually provides the best value for money as it comes with breakfast included (none of the other rooms have breakfast included), late check-out and a bathtub in the room! When I checked in, as an IHG Platinum member I was given a drinks voucher to use at the hotel bar/restaurant, Baba Chews (this was also where I had breakfast the next day).

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The rooms all have murals from Singapore’s past in them.
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Drinks voucher for IHG Elite members
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Panoramic view of the Katong skyline from the room

Being brand new, the hotel rooms are fabulously furnished with wood flooring and modern facilites such as USB charging ports and a 4G-enabled phone that can be used for data in Singapore. I would recommend not wearing your shoes in the room and using the hotel slippers instead (the room was so clean that I actually walked barefoot in the room). Befitting a Peranakan style, the room wall has a mural of Katong’s past, and even a table for playing carrom, a game of South Asian origins. The cupboard beside the closet even houses local sweets and a chicken cup that is oh-so-hipster. Every single feature of the room seems to be well-thought out, with the bathroom sink even sittting on top of an old sewing machine.

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Small touches such as the local sweets and the chicken cup
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The bathtub has a splendid panoramic view of Singapore and even a dragon engraving on the side
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Just remember to draw the blindsĀ when you are getting in and out of the tub!

What is unique about this particular room type is the bathtub right beside the window. Large enough comfortably fit one(it’s about 1.5 meters in diameter), the bathtub overlooks the Katong district, and such a far-reaching view of low-rise houses Ā is extremely rare in metropolitan Singapore.



The rooftop infinity pool is yet another reason to stay at the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong. While Marina Bay Sand’s infinitiy pool steals most of the limelight most of the time, this infinity is less well-known but nonetheless pretty enjoyable as well, as it offers a panoramic view of the Katong landscape. There is also a 24-hour gym beside the pool, and the hotel houses two restaurants, Baba Chews and another Taiwanese restaurant.

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Panoramic view from the rooftop swimming pool
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The rooftop swimming pool looks more surreal at night



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Baba Chews, the hotel restaurant that doubles up as a bar at night

I used the drinks voucher at night for the house wine at Baba Chews, which was excellent and well-worth the money, especially since alcohol is so expensive in Singapore.

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Yummy breakfast

The next day, I had breakfast at Baba Chews, and it features an ala carte menu with the usual western options like omelettes and eggs benedict, but also local specialities like kaya toast and eggs. There is also a self-serve buffet station which has bread, cheese, fruits, cereal and fresh juice. I especially found the juice to be delectable, as it was all freshly squeezed and pulpy.


Final Impressions

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Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong – get the room with the tub!

This hotel is a quintessential stay for the hipster looking for a staycation in Singapore, or the traveller looking to learn more about one small part of Singapore’s vast culture. It’s suitable for people who are either not interested or done with the mainstream tourist spots in Singapore and want to look for the off-track hipster hotspots in Singapore. I’d recommend you get the room with the tub as it comes with breakfast included and a unique bathtub experience in Singapore.

Remember to book your IHG hotel through either Shopback or TopCashBack to earn extra cashback on top of your credit card rewards!

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Traveling/Staying in Singapore? Grab these FREEBIES!

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Are you traveling to Singapore on vacation, immigrating to Singapore or staying here temporarily for business or studies? Whatever the reason, here are some FREEBIES for you to grab! These coupon codes / promo codes / signup bonuses would definitely make your stay in Singapore more enjoyable.


For taxi / cab in Singapore: $8 Grab credits, $20 Uber credits

The trains in Singapore can take you from Changi Airport to many places, but it’s not the most reliable – the trains break down very often. If you are carrying a lot of luggage, are in a rush, or simply want to travel in comfort, use these apps to get free taxi / cab travel in Singapore! What’s more, with these apps you can use credit cards in-app (physical credit card payment has a 10% surcharge on taxis in Singapore) and various promo codes.

Get FREE $8 in Grab credits!: For new users. Grab is a ride-sharing app in Singapore, allowing you to pay for your private car / taxi ride using your credit cards.

Get free $20 Uber credits: Uber is a similar ride-sharing app with much more international coverage, and also allows you to get taxis / cabs or private cars for transport anywhere in Singapore.


Buying stuff online in Singapore: $10 Shopback, $10 TopCashBack, $10 Chope

Singapore is a shopper’s paradise! Whether you’re staying for a short while and looking for food, or staying here for a long time and want to get extra cashback on online shopping, we’ve got you covered!

Get free $10 in Shopback credits: Shopback is a cashback portal that allows you to earn extra cashback from online shopping. Simply signup using our link and make a purchase to get $10 in Shopback credits to start. Their cashback is on top of any normal credit card rewards you get from your everyday online purchases!

Free $10 in TopCashBack credit: TopCashBack is also another cashback portal that pays in U.S. Dollars. Signup for both TopCashBack and Shopback and compare which gives a higher redemption rate for what you are buying!

$10 off your first-time purchase of $40 at Chope restaurant booking: Chope is a restaurant reservation app in Singapore (in the Singapore slang, “chope” actually means “to reserve”). You can book restaurants in advance, and they also sell digital restaurant gift cardsĀ at 10% below price (for example, you can buy a $100 voucher for $90 only, and you can even buy it while at the restaurant and redeem it immediately!)

Cashless Apps Signup Bonus

Sign up for DBS Paylah here and enter Referral Code TRIHFG669 by 13th August to get $5 free! The DBS Paylah app allows you to send money to other DBS users.


Extra Credit Card Signup Bonus

18,000 Krisflyer miles signup bonus for AMEX KrisflyerĀ (3000 miles more than usual!): If you’re eligible to get a credit card in Singapore, signup using this link to get 1000 more Krisflyer miles than usual for the American Express Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Credit Card (the usual offer is 8000 miles signup bonus). Receive 10000 bonus miles on your first spend with this card, another 3000 bonus miles after spending $50 within the first 3 months, and another 5000 bonus miles after spending $2500 within the first 3 months! (after 10th April 2017, this offer drops back to 13,000 bonus miles)



Enjoy your time in Singapore!



(Some of these links are referral links, but I guarantee that they are the best freebie offers you can get out there!)

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Hilton Melbourne South Wharf Rebranding To Pan Pacific after 31 May 2017

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According toĀ The Business Times, UOL group through its subsidiary Success Venture Pty Ltd has agreed to buy Hilton Melbourne South Wharf for A$230 million. Following the purchase around 31 May 2017, the property will be rebranded and changed to Pan Pacific Melbourne.

(Apparently the Pan Pacific Hotel group also bought the Hilton Melbourne Airport Hotel in 2010 and renamed it to ParkRoyal Melbourne Airport Hotel)

It is not clear yet whether Hilton Honors elite benefits or points accrural will be honored for bookings made before 31 May 2017 for stays after that (though I think benefits are unlikely to be “Honored”). To be safe, make a refundable booking first and ask the hotel later.

But, if you had wanted to use your Hilton Honors points to book award stays at the hotel, you’d better do it soon!


Too bad I never got a chance to stay at this hotel, but I was certainly more than happy at the DoubleTree Melbourne at Flinders Street, where I was upgraded to their best room – the huge Flinders View King Room!

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Singapore’s Carbon and Water Taxes Will Encourage a CleanTech Economy

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As part of Singapore’s Budget 2017, the Finance Minister made two announcements:

1. Water prices would be raised by 30%

From 1st July 2017,Ā water prices will be raised in 2 phases by 30%, and the rationale is to reflect the higher cost of producing water. This seems reasonable to me as prices were last raised in 2000, and water demands have increased significantly since then. In the past, the bulk of our water came from our reservoirs and from water imported from Malaysia. However, the recent incremental clean water sources have all been much more energy intensive, and thus more expensive – distillation, reverse osmosis and NEWater. It’s an unavoidable consequence of population growth with limited water resources.


2. Carbon tax implemented, $10-$20 per ton of greenhouse emissions

The tax will be implemented from 2019 onward, and will target only large emitters of greenhouse gases, such as electrical utilities and the petrochemical refineries on Jurong Island. This increases revenue for the government and simultaneously works towards its goals in climate change.


Towards a CleanTech Economy

Singapore ratified the Kyoto Protocol on 12 April 2006 and the Paris Agreement on 21st Sept 2016. As part of those agreements, they will have to work towards reduce CO2 emissions. In addition, I believe with the strong scientific hub being developed at A*STAR and one-North, and the recent entrepreneurship push by the government (with key programs such as Blk 71),Ā the economic landscape is set to change in the coming years, with the shift towards a CleanTech economy.

CleanTech involves many diverse areas: Solar energy, Wind energy, Green buildings, Biomaterials and Biofuels, Clean water, and more. While the petrochemical industry in Jurong Island and the pharmaceutical companies in Tuas contribute significantly the economy, they are likely to change in the coming years to make way for cleaner technologies, such as how Singapore used to be an electronics manufacturing hub but that has dwindled rapidly in the past decade. More importantly, the carbon tax increases the comparative advantage and economic competitiveness of CleanTech, specially clean energy.

The following trends are likely to emerge in the following years:

  1. Rise of solar power, especially given the high sunshine received in the country. Trials are already being conducted on rooftops of HDB flats.
  2. Trials of Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) will be implemented at the strongest CO2 emitters, namely the petrochemical refineries. The CO2 will be combined with hydrogen generated from renewable energy or biochemicals to produce more fuels and chemicals, while simultaneously reducing CO2 emission. This will inevitably result in many new startups emerging in this high-tech (deep-tech) field, just like how Hyflux and water technologies emerged as our water requirements increased.
  3. Emergence of “Clean Chemicals” sector in Singapore – where we move away from petroleum refinery, which produces vast quantities of CO2, and move towards production of specialty chemicals and maybe using the useĀ of bio-derived chemicals to reduce CO2 emissions.
  4. Rise of electric vehicles – such as with the nuTonomy startup and eventually moving towards autonomous electric buses (some MRT trains in Singapore are already autonomous).
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