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Silk Tea Bar
Photograph: Fabian Loo

The best cheap date ideas in Singapore under $20

Not all date outings have to burn a hole in your pocket, here's a few that are cheap, cheerful and a whole lot of fun.

Cheryl Sekkappan
Written by
Time Out Singapore editors
Contributor
Cheryl Sekkappan
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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 are a few cheap and cheerful date outings to get you on a roll.

RECOMMENDED: The best park for picnics and the best unique and fun date ideas in Singapore

Double date at a board game café
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • River Valley

Some friendly competitive spirit is good to break the ice – especially if it's the first date. Bring along another couple to The Mind Café to make up some numbers, so that you can play over 700 variations of board games. Nothing like some old school fun to help you forge some real connections, and perhaps some romance. 

  • Restaurants
  • Tea rooms
  • Chinatown

Head to this relaxing, almost meditative space in Chinatown for some Chinese tea-drinking with your date. This zen-like oasis is perfect for slowing down and getting to know each other. At the same time, you get to enjoy the subtleties of Chinese tea like Dancong and chrysanthemum. And when conversation lulls, you can just take your time watching the shop owners as they carry out their mesmerising tea brewing rituals. 

 

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  • Cinemas
  • Pop-up
  • Raffles Place

Impress your date with a movie at the alternative cinema The Projector X: Riverside. Located at Clarke Quay, the bar has a glittering view of the Singapore River – particularly beautiful at night. In January 2022, catch romances like Licorice Pizza and West Side Story onscreen, as well as other offbeat films exclusively at The Projector. Once a 'siam diu' (Thai-themed disco), the cinema hall is now bedazzled with neon lights and art from Mojoko, the perfect setting for a romantic movie night.  

 

  • Attractions
  • Animal rescue homes
  • Rochor

Do you and your date love cats? Visit The Kitten Sanctuary, which specialises in the rescue of pregnant cats as well as neonatal kittens – which means you'll get to play with adorable kittens at this shelter. Entry to The Kitten Sanctuary costs only $20 per person, giving you an hour of play with adult cats and kittens housed across three separate sections. The cats here are well socialised, and tolerant of pets and cuddles. 

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  • Things to do
  • Southern Islands

If you and your date need a break from reality, then head to the beautiful Lazarus Island for a picnic and frolic on the beach. To make the most of it, head out on the first ferry at 9am on weekends and 10am on weekdays to claim the sands for yourself. For the most Insta-worthy shots, trek further inland to the reclaimed Pulau Seringat, north of Lazarus where you'll find a pavilion set against a panaromic view of Singapore mainland. It costs only $18 per person for a round trip. 

 

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Ang Mo Kio

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. There are five trails to choose from in Thomson Nature Park that span over 3.8km. Each trail takes you on a sightseeing tour to see ferns, ruins, macaques, streams and the Raffles' banded langur – a highly elusive and endangered monkey. The nature park also houses a former Hainan village in Singapore and visitors can get a glimpse of this from the ruins and rubble that has been left behind from its heydays in the 60s. See the remnants of a rambutan plantation, a farm and several old village houses (one of them used to belong to the family behind popular Singapore eatery, Han's). Old street signs have also been left untouched so you're literally walking through an old kampung in 1960s Singapore. 

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Search for a prawn at Hai Bin Prawning
  • Things to do
  • Punggol

For $20 per hour or $36 for two hours (that's less than $20 each if you decide to splitsies), Hai Bin Prawning in Punggol is perfect for a bottle of beer and, if luck is on your side, a heaped-up plate of fresh prawns. Plus there's plenty of time for conversation while waiting for a prawn. Equipment and bait are included in the hourly fee, along with barbecue pits, charcoal, satay sticks and salt for seasoning. Talk about a romantic setting – it’s set up under a thatched roof with hanging red lanterns above plastic chairs that surround six ponds, all regularly filled with live prawns.

  • Things to do
  • Jurong East

Visit the Science Centre Singapore Observatory on any Friday (except public holidays), from 7.45pm to 10pm, to stargaze. Using one of its telescopes, you're able to see at least one of the four brightest planets in our solar system – Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars – at different times of the year, as well as other stars and the moon. Keep a look out and prepare to be awed.

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  • Things to do
  • Marina Bay

Flying a kite isn’t just a family-friendly activity. It can also be romantic – you really learn a lot about your partner when you try to assemble a particularly challenging kite together – so don’t underestimate it. Invest in a kite (or make your own) and bring your date to the green plains of Marina Barrage. The unblocked views of the Singapore skyline give you many opportunities to capture nice pictures of you and your date. Do arrive early as it gets crowded, especially on weekends.

Enjoy the Gardens by night
  • Things to do
  • Marina Bay

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.

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Plan a hawker picnic
Photo: Rory Daniel

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 towelway more comfortable than a straw mat – some tea lights and head anywhere outdoors.

Go on a rooftop hop

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 Esplanades which when timed right gives a great view of Marina Bay Sands nightly light show.

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  • Things to do
  • Bukit Panjang

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.

  • Things to do
  • Kent Ridge

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. 

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Go on a road trip
Photo: akosihub

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. En route, 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
Photo: Darren Soh and the National Gallery Singapore

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.

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  • Clubs
  • Chinatown

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).

Go nuts at an arcade

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.

timezone.com.sg

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Go on a walkabout in Little India
Photograph: Morven

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.

Looking for more date ideas?

  • Sex and dating

We know, we know – dating is more about the camaraderie rather than the venue. But that’s no reason not to impress your date with the best hangout spot even if you’re broke. No matter what sort of couple you are, Singapore has a myriad of things to do. From getting a cultural fix at the museum to going on a nature trail, vibe with your romantic partner at one of these eclectic locations without all the extra charge. Aren't the best things in life free? RECOMMENDED:  Unique and fun date ideas in Singapore and the most romantic restaurants in Singapore

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The best alternative date ideas for goths in Singapore
  • Sex and dating

It's easy to get stuck in a rut if your dating schedule includes heading to the freezing cinemas, fancy restaurants and rooftop bars on repeat, even with a new partner. And if you fall under the category of 'cool goth couple', do you really want to bond over the usual mainstream dates? Here are some unique alternatives that are out of the ordinary (and take the spook level up a notch) – worst case scenario, it'll be a good laugh. RECOMMENDED: The best free date ideas in Singapore and unique and fun date ideas in Singapore  

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