Life gets expensive in Singapore. Throw in the regular date outings to impress your new squeeze, or the #fridate that’s become mandatory, and your bank balance looks a whole lot lighter at the end of every month. But it doesn’t have to be this way, here’s a few cheap and cheerful date outings to get you on a roll.
RECOMMENDED: The best park for picnics
Forget about shelling out the $20 Dome entrance fee – the equally impressive outdoor gardens are free and open till 2am daily. Plan your trip to coincide with the 745pm and 845pm Garden Rhapsody show, afterwards explore the Heritage Gardens before ending the night at the Dragonfly and Kingfisher lake, a quiet (and darkened) part of the garden to sneak in a kiss.
Plan a hawker picnic
While Instagrammers will have you believe that picnics consist of gourmet grocery store items, a more real (and heartwarming) way is to pack your favourite hawker dishes – satay, chicken wing, carrot cake, chicken rice all make excellent picnic food. To complete the vibe, grab a beach towel – way more comfortable than a straw mat – some tea lights and head anywhere outdoors.
Go on a rooftop hop
There’s an abundance of cool non-bar centric rooftops to explore in Singapore. Some of the better ones include the plant-filled space found at the top of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, the Pinnacle@Duxton where the 50th story sky bridge is accessible for just $6 per person (capped at 200 individuals), and at Esplanade’s which when timed right gives a great view of Marina Bay Sands’ nightly light show.
Now that they’ve revamped it for $14.25 million, there’s no excuse not to plan a hike there (these are your tax dollars after all). Up the stakes and challenge each other to see who reaches the summit first – loser pays for iced Milos. The green loop will weave through more of the forested area, while the blue trail loops past Hindhede Quarry for a well-placed #wefie.
The Singapore Tourism Board calls it an “eclectic Chinese mythological park”, we remember it as the park that scared us into obeying our parents. Take advantage of Haw Par Villa’s free admission and trade stories about the naughtiest things you got up to as a child – and the punishments received. Tour the ten gates of hell for a lark and try not to return home too traumatised.
Go on a road trip
But the type that doesn’t involve any driving or navigating. Organise to meet anywhere along Orchard Road and take the 36 bus east. Enroute, take in the view of Tanjong Rhu (particularly scenic at dusk) before ending up at Changi Airport to explore the new Terminal 4 where there’s a number of Instagrammable art – Cedric Le Borgne’s larger-than-life bird sculptures, Kurt Metzler’s Travelling Family, Petalclouds, a grand-scale kinetic installation – to interact with.
Visit museums for free
Thanks to the National Heritage Board entry to many of Singapore’s museums for locals cost nothing – even the National Gallery that stays open 'til 9pm on Fridays. And if you don’t mind sharing a beer (and why should you), end the night at Smoke & Mirrors with a killer view for just $16.
Make like a Singapore uncle but instead of knocking back a large bottle of Carlsberg in a hawker centre setting, have a fresh draught at Smith Street Taps where they’ve got a daily rotation of beers starting from $9 a glass. And they’re not just random brews, cult brands offered include Omnipollo (Sweden), Beerfarm (Australia), BrewDog (Scotland), and Hitachino Nest (Japan).
When you’ve done MacRitchie to death, trekked the Southern Ridges and can picture Bukit Timah Hill’s summit by memory, it’s a sign to explore a different park. Located just off Venus Drive, this Upper Thomson-located green lung has a few unique highlights. The Hanguana Trail lined with rare native plants, the sub-canopy walk at the Drongo Trail, and a marsh habitat where you can spot woody plant species.
With so many bike-sharing services in Singapore, exploring the island by bike is a no-brainer. One of our favourite routes snakes from the Marina Bay area down to Kampong Bugis before ending at Camp Kilo for a slice of their S’mores Cheesecake ($8) or an ice-cold beer.
When leaving out a plate of kibble for the block kitty no longer does the trick, grab your other half to Farmmart for some quality animal time. Open from 9am to 6.30pm on weekends (weekdays till 1pm), the crowd feeding favourite has to be the goats, while the bullfrogs in the animal corner are impossible to ignore.
Go nuts at an arcade
While we’re not dissing the arcade games at Level Up, $20 goes a longer way at TimeZone’s 10 outlets. The VivoCity branch delivers next level fun with LED bumper car rides, VR-enabled simulator games and a fun-sized mini bowling alley that anyone can master.
Go on a walkabout in Little India
There’s no shortage of visual distractions in Little India – which makes for great conversation – or food options (hello Tekka Market) and cheap beers (we love the Prince of Wales) so a Fridate is easily done for under $20. We won’t recommend anything specific, just start walking down Serangoon Road and let your eyes, ears and nose lead you.
Share a LOL in real life
Who doesn’t love a good belly aching laugh? Make a date for one of Comedy Club Asia Wednesday or Thursday open mic or stand-up sessions at Blu Jaz Café, for $10 per person you really can’t go wrong.