How to stretch your dollar in Asia

How to stretch your dollar in Asia

Hong Kong and Singapore are two of the most expensive cities in the world. From rent to food, the lifestyle costs are astounding. However, what the cities have are options. I spent a  lot of time sniffing out deals and ways to save money here and there to put towards my next happy hour drink. What I love about Asia are all the apps that dish out savings for dining and living. I’m not just talking about the typical “UBEReats” and their occassional discounts – I mean apps whose whole business model is to allow the user to save their money/time. They helped both the user and businesses, and I really capitalized on it when I quit my job earlier this year and really needed the extra buck.

As I discover new apps, I’ll try to add them on the list.


D I N I N G


Eatigo | Cost: Free

Eatigo is an app that lets you dine during off-peak hours for cheap. Restaurants that participate will have limited number of tables that they sell off at a discount, depending on the size and time of the booking.

For example, in Hong Kong, my favourite Thai place will usually have a table of any size that sells for 50% off at 3pm. My favourite steak place, Blue Butcher, also sells its dinner tables off for 50% at 6pm. If you manage to squeeze out of work early enough to make it,  I highly recommend checking them out. Blue Butcher also has 50% off bottles of wine under HKD1,000 and amazing live music on Tuesday night. It’s where I spent enough Tuesday nights 🙂

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Blue Butcher. Image Source: GeoExpat

The off-peak times for lunch and dinner apply to weekends as well.
Note: Sometimes you have to say you are dining on eatigo with the reservation number before you are seated. Be sure to make the bookings though as the bookings can only be held for 15 min max.

ENTERTAINER | Cost: HKD268 488 or SGD 95 145  annually

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Image source: Entertainer

The ENTERTAINER is the classic buy-one-get-one free app. It’s actually widely used in Asia and the Middle East (my ex-colleague told me it’s big in Dubai). Every restaurant on there have three discount items you can use, and they’re usually buy-entrée-get-one-free or some variation. I liked the variety because the restaurants go from little Poke shops (@Pololi) to sit-down restaurants (@Ollies). It’s a great chance to explore restaurants in a new city as they break down the categories in terms of location and cuisine type.

They have done a good job of bundling – and have expanded beyond just dining to drinks (Cheers edition), Beauty and travel (ENTERTAINER getaway). I used Cheers for cocktails at @The Woods and I have also used them for Beauty a lot (mani/spa/waxing) since the discount is always 50% off.

The travel edition is a hit-and-miss because when I tried to use it in Bali, hotels will have a different and much higher nightly rate than if you were to book directly on Expedia. However, we found success in Siem Reap so it’s worth a try.

Note that although Hong Kong and Singapore operate on the same app, the membership does not extend beyond the city you purchased for.

Tip: Entertainer has started cracking down on people using multiple items in one bill and have enforced a minimum number of people as a threshold for using some of the items. Double check before ordering.


T R A V E L


KLOOK | Cost: Free

Image result for klook

Klook is great for helping you get the basic items for travel: such as airport transfers, sim cards, and booking tours. They cover all the major destinations you can think of, including Chiang Mai, Tokyo, Bali, London, Pattaya, Seoul… etc. I use them every time I travel because at the very minimum, I use them for Airport express to get to the airport. I typically catch the MRT from Hong Kong Station and round-trip only cost me HKD135 (vs. public prices of HKD205). They are also great for booking ferries to Macau, so long as you do it a day or two in advance.

For tours, I use them as a benchmark in the cities that I’m going to and the prices on Klook is almost always cheaper. People leave reviews and are honest about the experiences. I used them to book my Great Wall of China tour, which was smooth and effortless. Confirmations is almost instant and you liaise directly with the operator after you have purchased the ticket. Nowadays, I don’t plan trips without looking at Klook.


L I F E S T Y L E


Classpass| Cost: HKD399-999 or SGD50-SGD100 (monthly)

(Note: After the publishing of this post, Classpass has increased its prices in Singapore. New plans start at SGD59 to SGD315. At this point, I believe that Classpass has lost much of its value for me. If cost is not a huge issue, it is still a good directory for those looking to try new exercises.)

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Image Source: Classpass

I didn’t used Classpass until I moved to Singapore. I was an avid Pure Fitness customer while I lived in Hong Kong, and while there were definitely pros and cons of that place, I am so glad I discovered Classpass. It is a much better option for those with less structure in their day.

Classpass is a monthly subscription model where the user pays the fee and is alloted a number of points, with which they can use to book classes at all the participating studios in the city. I loved it because I used it as a way to explore Singapore as the studios are spread out all over. I also tried out classes beyond my usual Bodypump classes, such as barre, ariel yoga, kickboxing, and orange theory fitness.

From an economic point of view, the SGD100 monthly plan gets me 200 credits. A typical class is about 6-12 points. So doing the math, I attended 23 classes my first month, so an average class worked out to be SGD4.34! That’s crazy! If you don’t think you’ll attend 23 classes like a crazy person, you can do the lite version, which costs SGD50 and gives you 50 points. After I start my MBA I’ll likely keep myself on the lite just so I can still hit up my favourite classes once a week.

Note: Unlike other fitness apps, Classpass lets you book classes at most studios for as many times as you like, with the caveat that the required points will increase from the 4th class onwards. For example, my HIIT class jumped from 7 points to 12 points after the 3rd time.

To give you an idea of the variety of classes, my current schedule (in Singapore) consist a rotation of Barre (@ Barre2Barre or WeBarre), Suicide Squad (@ LEVEL – Robinson Road), Knockout Boxing (@ Box Office Fitness), and Trampoline (@ Rasa Fitness).

If you’d like to try, use my link here and get SGD40 off your first month.

Tip: Popular classes get booked up fast, so set up an alarm and plan ahead. If you’re in Hong Kong, H-Kore, a lagree studio and my favourite(which is effective and expensive), is on classpass!

I know that GuavaPass has operates on a similar model, but in Singapore at the moment, Classpass’ prices are unbeatable.

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