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 cards 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 Krisflyer (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!)

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

According to 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!

The Problem With Power Banks – Energy Efficiency

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I use power banks (also known as battery packs or portable chargers) to charge my phone and tablets, especially when I’m travelling. Back when I was using my iPhone 6, my battery would die very quickly before the day ended, and if I wasn’t in the office I would have to resort to using a battery pack.

While battery packs bring convenience and can charge our precious smartphones when we most need it (it’s like finding a restroom when you really need to pee), battery packs are a terrible waste of energy and more harmful to the environment than simply getting a phone with a larger battery capacity (seriously, if a 2mm thicker phone can give me hours more battery life, I would gladly accept that). Here’s why battery packs are so bad:

Battery packs result in double-charging, which wastes electricity!

No battery pack is 100% efficient at charging or discharging – that’s why you cannot fully charge one battery pack with another (otherwise it would be equivalent to a perpetual motion machine).

According to Wikipedia, lithium-ion batteries (used in all mobile batteries) are about 80-90% efficient. The best lithium ion batteries like electric cars and the Tesla Powerwall are up to 90% efficient. The small batteries in our phones and battery packs? Probably only about 80%.

To see how much energy is lost using a battery pack, consider the iPhone 7 with a 1960mAh capacity at 3.8V (7.45Wh of energy). Even if there is no energy loss in your wall plug (in reality there is energy loss, because there is an AC/DC converter that converts your wall socket power), you would still need 9.31Wh (7.45/0.8)of energy to charge it fully. If you use a battery pack instead, there is an extra 20% loss from the battery pack discharging and another extra 20% loss from when you had to charge the battery pack! So by using a battery pack, you would need a whopping 14.5Wh (7.45/0.8/0.8/0.8) of energy just to charge the 7.45Wh battery in your iPhone! That’s a nearly 50% total loss of energy!

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This is different from having an extra removable battery in your phone (which old phones used to have) or your camera. If you have an extra removable battery and you charge that, when your phone battery runs out you simply swap it – there is no double-charging here compared to battery packs.

So what’s the solution?

Mobile phones with full-day battery life. Make those phones a few mm thicker, and let them last the whole day, so we don’t have to carry another heavy battery pack along just so our phones can last to the end of the day!

New Year’s Eve at Holiday Inn Old Sydney

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Want a prime rooftop view of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House for the New Year’s Eve fireworks? Want it for a SECRET low price? Most hotels with a view of the fireworks charge at least A$4000 for a minimum 3-night stay over New Year’s Eve (NYE).

But there is a hidden gem at the Holiday Inn Old Sydney, where I stayed for 35000 IHG points per night (unfortunately this increases to 40000 IHG points per night on 15 Jan 2017) per night, so 105000 points for the 3 nights over NYE, when the hotel was charging approximately A$4000 for 3 nights! That’s an incredible 3 US cents/point (cpp) for each IHG point, which is far above the usual average redemption rate of 0.6 cpp for IHG points! That’s incredible value and definitely worth it – you just have to book very early because award availability over NYE runs out very quickly (and award availability opens in February or March).

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This couple paid A$1600 to see fireworks on New Year’s Eve. I used only 105k IHG points for 3 nights at the Holiday Inn Old Sydney for an even better view of the fireworks.

Hotel Location

The Holiday Inn Old Sydney is located at 55 George St, The Rocks, NSW 2000, Australia. It is near to the Circular Quay train station which is directly connected to the Sydney airport. From there, it is near to the Sydney Harbor Bridge, Sydney Opera House, and Royal Botanic Gardens. Circular Quay is well-connected via bus to other parts of the city like Darling Harbor and Chinatown, while the ferry services connect to across the Harbor to places like Manly Beach and Taronga Zoo.

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View of Sydney Opera House from Holiday Inn Old Sydney

Room

The rooms are probably not the main reason why you book this hotel (the main reason is the rooftop!), but the rooms are still fine for a Holiday Inn. The hotel has 8 floors and is triangle-shaped with rooms along each side, so only one-third of them will have a view of the harbor. There is also a weighing scale for luggage at the lobby. When I checked in, I was also given a 1-for-1 drinks voucher at their Lobby bar.

They recently upgraded the air-conditioning system so that even in the summer heatwave in Dec 2016, the room was still perfectly cool. There is a touch-screen climate control thermostat and a smart lock that unlocks using your keycard. You can connect your laptop computer to the LCD TV using HDMI cables if you so wish. Note that if you book this standard room using points, it faces the city and there will almost certainly be no complimentary upgrades to harbor views due to the extraordinary demand during that time (when I was there, the hotel was fully booked). If there are available harbor rooms I think you can pay to upgrade to them.

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King room at Holiday Inn Old Sydney

The New Year’s Eve experience

When I came back from breakfast on NYE, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the hotel had left a huge NYE amenity for us. The gift consisted of an artistic photo frame of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, a bag of white chocolate raspberries, a bag of nuts, two bottles of water, and two vouchers for a complimentary glass of wine at the Lobby bar. In addition, the hotel had given me a bottle of red wine, because the toilet button wasn’t working the night before, but someone came to fix it immediately and I was already satisfied – but the red wine certainly made me happier.

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New Year’s Eve gift – photo frame of Sydney Harbor Bridge, nuts, water, and wine

On 31 December 2016, New Year’s Eve in Sydney, it was estimated that there were 1.5 million people around the harbor looking at the fireworks. That’s 1,500,000 people. If you hate squeezing with thousands of other people, you would want to book this hotel. Nearby viewing points such as Observatory Hill Park and the Sydney Opera House steps were all full by 2pm – can you imagine squeezing with so many other people for 10 hours through the hot summer sun and then the cool windy night till midnight? Not me. I just strolled over to the Holiday Inn Old Sydney’s rooftop shortly before the 9pm and 12mn fireworks, and got an even more amazing view of the fireworks than the people down below.

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Trust me, you don’t want to be these people at 3pm under the hot sun on NYE.

 

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Amazing view from the rooftop!
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Fireworks over the Sydney Opera House, seen from the hotel rooftop

BONUS: Another secret way to get up to the Holiday Inn Old Sydney rooftop during NYE

When I was there, I also found out that the hotel had organized a New Year’s Eve dinner at their restaurant (I heard from other guests that it was about A$200 per person), and if you dine there you are allowed on the rooftop (no one else other than hotel guests are allowed on the rooftop).
Overall

This was a great IHG points redemption, and the Holiday Inn Old Sydney is a great hotel for New Year’s Eve. Remember to book for NYE early because availability (both rewards nights and paid nights) run out fast!

Remember to use Shopback cashback portal for an extra 2% cashback! (search for IHG). Don’t have Shopback? Use this link to get an extra $10 cashback!

Register for IHG Accelerate 2017 using this link for extra 2000 points!

While I was staying at the Holiday Inn Old Sydney (read my New Year’s Eve review of this hotel), I came across a poster with a link to get an extra 2000 points for signing up for IHG Accelerate! Too bad I’ve already signed up, but if you haven’t yet, use this link!

http://ihgrewardsclub.com/extra2000

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“Register for Accelerate before you check out to get 2,000 points!” – Just use the link I provided

For those who don’t know, IHG Accelerate runs from 1 January to 15 April 2017 and consists of personalized promotions that give extra points for completing specific tasks. My own tasks could get me up to 65,300 points with just five stays!

For Singapore users, remember to use Shopback cashback portal for up to extra 5% cashback! (search for IHG). Don’t have Shopback? Use this link to get an extra $10 cashback for new users!

Or for USA users, use TopCashBack cashback portal for up to extra 9.5% cashback! Use this link to get an extra $10 cashback for new users!
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Review: DoubleTree Melbourne – Flinders St

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DoubleTree by Hilton Melbourne – Flinders Street

I stayed at the DoubleTree Melbourne by Flinders Street (Victoria, Australia) over Christmas 2016. The hotel totally blew away my expectations with its amazing location, excellent service, and great perks for Hilton Hhonors elite members (I visited this hotel as a Hilton Hhonors Diamond member). Read below to find out more:

Check-in

Reaching the hotel from Melbourne airport was easy, with the Skybus shuttle service going to Southern Cross station and then a free hotel transfer bus shuttle to DoubleTree Melbourne. I had indicated in my reservation that my flight would land early, and I expected to leave my luggage at the hotel and walk around until the official check-in time of 3pm. But to my surprise, the front desk manager told me my room was ready, at 10.30AM! With that, he gave me two warm delicious Doubletree cookies, I thanked him and went up to Room 702 for a rest from my red-eye flight.

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Delicious cookies given at check-in

Room

I was upgraded to a King Room (Flinders Station View). This room is definitely worth booking, as it is spacious and overlooks Flinders Station and the Yarra River.

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Nice view from the room!

The rooms in the hotel were renovated in 2015 and is very modern. The 40 inch LCD TV has smart features like Screen Mirroring which allowed me to wirelessly mirror my PC screen, iPhone and Samsung phones to it – no more HDMI/VGA cables! The bedside radio has Bluetooth connectivity so you can stream music through it. The bedside power outlet also had my favorite feature – two integrated USB ports: no need to bring your phone charger and travel adapter!

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USB ports for charging

The bathroom has a modern style with a shower area and Hansgrohe faucets, with Aroma Actives Essentials shower amenities.

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Modern toilet with Hansgrohe faucets and Aroma Actives shower amenities

Breakfast

As a Hilton Hhonors Diamond member, I was given free continental breakfast for two every morning. Breakfast had a good range including smoked salmon, bacon and eggs, fruits and drinks, fresh bread and even congee. Diamond members are also able to order additional hot food (fried eggs, poached eggs, pancakes, omelettes). Food quality is definitely better than average. There is a self-serve coffee machine, but you can get a barista to brew coffee for you for an additional $4.50.

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Fresh bread, fruits and hot food like bacon, mushrooms, sausages and eggs.
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Hot eggs and individually-bottled jam with industrial-style ambience

Service

For my room, there was daily evening turndown service, which came with some nice chocolates. I was also pleasantly surprised on Christmas day to get a little gingerbread man on my door.

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Gingerbread man on Christmas – a nice service touch

Location and final impressions

The best thing about this hotel is its location beside Flinders Station. It is near many tourist attractions such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Federation Square, and Christmas Square. The Melbourne Free Tourist Tram, with a stop in front of the hotel, connected me to many other attractions such as the Queen Victoria Market and Chinatown (See the Free Tram map here). If you want to book day tours to Phillip Island (to see the penguins) or the Great Ocean Road, the hotel concierge can also do it for you.

If you want to book this hotel, I would definitely recommend getting Flinders View room at least, as I’ve heard that the other rooms are smaller (though with the same furniture and amenities). I booked this hotel during a Hilton APAC Flash Sale and got a very reasonable price for it, and it is definitely value for money.

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Layout of rooms. The Flinders Station room is bigger and definitely worth paying more for.

 

Remember to use Shopback cashback portal for an extra 3% cashback! (search for Hilton). Don’t have Shopback? Use this link to get an extra $10 cashback!

Deal Alert: Intercontinental Singapore S$146 per night! (Jan 2017)

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I just noticed that the Intercontinental Singapore, a 5-star hotel that is part of the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), is going for as low as S$146 per night in January 2017! (Usually it hovers about $300) 

This is for a Heritage Twin Room room from 6-7 January 2017, at the “YOUR RATE” advanced purchase price (get this rate by signing in to your free IHG account). The Deluxe King room is also going for only $171.50. At this price, it is even cheaper than all the Holiday Inns and Crowne Plazas in Singapore (which are “only” 3-star and 4-star!)

Prices for other neighboring dates:

4-5 Jan: $184.24

5-6 Jan: $147.98 (Heritage Room King, one room left), Deluxe King is $171.50

6-7 Jan: $146.47 (Heritage Room Twin, one room left), Deluxe King is 169.75

7-8 Jan: $169.75

8-9 Jan: $187.18

Remember to use Shopback cashback portal for an extra 2% cashback! (search for IHG). Don’t have Shopback? Use my referral link to get an extra $10 cashback: https://www.shopback.sg/?raf=OuQLjG

If you found this article useful, consider using one of the referral links at the top or right sidebar to get yourself some FREE credits!

About Me

The Alpha Lion – the intersection of finance, tech and life.

 

Alpha – finance term referring to excess returns relative to a benchmark index.

Alpha – first phase of a tech product.

Lion – life in the Lion City (Singapore).