Brutally Honest Reviews: 2019 Ang Pows

So many ugly ang pows, so little time.
ReviewsFebruary 1, 2019
The best parts of Chinese New Year include collecting ang pows (duh) but also… sitting with all the cousins to definitively rank your relatives by their choice of ang pow! We also like, so we ranked all the ang pows we could find. See which ones are stunning and which ones are so ugs even the triple Leica lens of the new Huawei Mate 20x smartphone couldn’t help. P.S. Spot a red packet we haven’t covered? Send us your ang pow pics and we’ll tell you what we think!


These ang pows, with their on-brand, embossed hexagons (see new Audi A1 grill), feel clean and modern on first acquaintance, but are actually curiously fussy yet boring after a few minutes. Unfortunately, a bit like their cars! :/

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 4/10

Singapore Airlines

This chintzy, fabric-like, blood red ang pow packet feels like the sort of wallpaper you will find in the entrance hall of an Oriental-themed heath spa. Collect enough of these and you can recreate the look at home with nothing more than a pen knife, cutting mat and some UHU stick glue.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 3/10


Gosh, this looks familiar. Both these companies have forgotten that this fabric-effect, “silk” finish material is like, so 2009. One point more than SIA because this particular silk-like material feels a biiit more luxe.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 4/10


A crazy-ecstatic anthropomorphic sponge dressed in traditional Chinese clothing shouldn’t work, but it does. We especially love the high-level WTF-ness of Patrick wearing a pig nose (and ONLY the nose) on his forehead.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 8/10

Standard Chartered

An evocative image of sparrows and cherry blossoms done in the fine Shanghai School of painting lends this red packet a timeless sen….zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 1.5/10
(Wake me up, when November ends)


Know your place in society via what ang pows you get from your bank. All of DBS’ red packets feature children who are all “eyelashes, no eyes” (some might actually find that vaguely offensive, but OK). But the illusion of equality is shattered by the way each progressive income tier is clearly defined by the extra printing effects:

Level 1, DBS (ordinary, a.k.a. poor) – hot stamp with gold foil
Level 2, DBS Treasures (slightly more atas, can get black Mercedes to send you to airport) – hot stamp with gold foil + emboss
Level 3, DBS Treasures Private Client (most atas, your own chauffeur sends you to the plane) – hot stamp with gold foil + emboss + MATTE FINISH

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 3/10

W Hotel

Says “Stay Gold” but in silver. OK. The reversible ang pow design means you can choose to go hyper-branded, hyper-bling and holographic on the outside, with a cheeky auspicious(?) message on the inside. Or flip it so that the hipster-moderne-cool slogans face out and open to reveal a blindingly bright interior. Either way is kind of “Eh?” but at least the W gets points for staying on brand, standing out from the crowd, and not being too gross about it.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 7/10

I Love Yoo

Ang pow from you tiao retailer depicts the Kitchen God holding a red yoga mat(?) BUT not a massive, deep golden you tiao? Possibly because a big you tiao may be mistaken for a you… know what! Hur hur.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 6/10


If the cute Fortune Salted Egg Duck God gives you salted egg coated snacks the rest of this year, Would you say no? Of cos not! Rubbery luxurious paper adds to the heft that is not unexpected for this expensive snack brand. $$$!

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 7.5/10

Julius Bär

Bär kut teh, sio Bär, kong Bär pau. So many chances for pig-puns but private bank Julius Bär delivers a tasteful and minimal ang pow with embossed peonies with hot-stamped gold highlights on that nice rubbery paper instead. So close. So far! (We know, its pronounced “Baer” lah)

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 6/10

Love, Bonito

If you bought anything from LB in the last month, you would have received this for free. The line on the ang pow – “May you be clothed in love and joy” – is quite a nice token, in that light. But if you think about it, actually a bit f-ed up. Because it’s more intended for the giver of the ang pow, than the receiver of the ang pow. So the receiver of the ang pow never wear Love, Bonito, then how? Might come off as a bit self-righteous and passive aggressive. Maybe should have thought this one through a bit more carefully.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 4/10

Cartoon Network

3 Bears, 3 Words: MAKE. IT. RAIN.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 88/10 (CLOUT LEVEL 88,000)

Credit Suisse

Never mind that it looks a bit chapalang. THERE IS A SMILING, NAKED, FURRY-TEXTURED, TATTOOED PIG LEAPING OVER PEONIES on the envelope! These guys have hit it out of the park.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 10/10 (Air pork!)


Seems generic at first, but when compared the other local banks’ efforts, becomes good. Props to them for coming up with a millennial-friendly pattern design.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 6/10

Bank of Singapore

If you haven’t heard of it before, Bank of Singapore is the private-banking arm of OCBC bank. Read: it’s only for their wealthiest clients. But look at the ang pow design and you’ll know, lah! Classic, straight to the point, and laced with gold. So, clearly designed for rich and self-important baby boomers with no imagination.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 7/10

The Paper Bunny

This one’s by a stationery company, so it’s quite rare in the way that you actually have to buy this ang pow. Maybe we’ve just been spoilt by the culture of collecting “free” ang pow from financial institutions/petrol kiosks/department stores, but to actively spend money on ang pow seems so unnecessary? In other words, we’re just too cheap, lah. So extra, for what?

And when you say “so much favour”, you better be prepared to give so much favour. The design is nice (millennial pink, who can resist) but overall, it’s too much pressure for us.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 6/10


The matte neon pink finish is super-striking and feels luxe. The design is restrained and modern. The subtle Robinsons branding is also a nice touch. All good things! Unfortunately, the one thing that could be improved are the anemic embossed cherry blossoms lurking in the corner. It would help if they were bigger and more defined, because currently they feel a bit like pimples. And that’s not sexy.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 9/10


Look at this, what do you see? We argued for hours in the office. (Hint, it’s a pink animal… and if you still can’t see it, get a friend to hold it up for you as you stand 3 meters away.) As abstract as a Kandinsky painting with the Suprematist leanings removed.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 2/10 to 8/10
(Depending on what you see. Another hint: it makes “oink oink” noises.)


Smiley the Squirrel has hit mid-life (he’s 36 years old now) and has resorted to eye lifts, thread lifts, excessive amounts of filler and skin-smoothing filters to appeal to a younger generation… and get them to save for a rainy-day rhinoplasty in Korea. Save now, and some day you too can look as happy as Smiley! Albeit in that odd, constantly surprised way…

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 7/10 (Wide-eyed and suspiciously so.)


Preferred choice of fishmongers and tight-wad CHINESE biz-ness men and it shows. Amateur GONG KIA design layout from some underpaid freelancer who accidentally put the side profile of an Opel Insignia on envelope. (Okay no, they didn’t, but sure looks like one!) Car brand must have picture of car on it okay? So Ugly and Crap, winner of the worst ang pow award.

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 1/10

Platinum by American Express

A figurative painting of peonies and roses? How retro! So retro it’s almost rebellious, as if American Express is thumbing its nose at the flying pigs, dancing dragons, and golden blossoms of this New Year. Or maybe we’ve looked at too many ang pows and are reading too much into everything by now. Ok, never mind. Can’t think anymore. Need to lie down and gorge on pineapple tarts. (Yes, at the same time. You’re not our mom.)

Ang Pow Wow Factor : 6/10

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