Tai chi in the parks
It’s never too early to start. Join the old folk at East Coast Park (Mon-Sat 6.45-8.15am) or Duxton Plain Park (daily 6am) and relieve your soul of daily stress through tai chi. To have a go at alternative takes on this traditional Chinese martial art, visit the Botanic Gardens, where you can try Fan Dance (Mon, Wed, Fri & Sun 7-8am) or Sword Exercise (daily 8-9am) to swing into something new. www.nparks.gov.sg. Free.
Fancy a game of tennis?
Test out your backhand at a world-class facility. The Kallang Tennis Centre is where the official matches in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games were held. Players can rent courts at prices ranging from $3.50 to $9.50 per hour. The centre has 1,219 seats, so you can invite as many spectators as you like. BYO strawberries and cream. 52 Stadium Rd (6348 1291). Daily 7am-10pm.
Take a dip in a public pool
There are over 20 public swimming pools in Singapore, where admission fees range from $0.80 to $2. Don’t roll your eyes – have you seen the state-of-the-art facilities at some of these places? The Sengkang Swimming Complex (57 Anchorvale Rd, 6315 3574; Tue-Sun & public holidays 8am-9.30pm) boasts eight slides and a jacuzzi, while the Jurong West Swimming Complex (20 Jurong West St 93; 6515 5259; Wed-Mon & public holidays 8am-9.30pm) isn’t far behind, with a ‘lazy river’, jacuzzi and a slide.
Build a sandcastle
Snap out of your daydreams – sandcastles can be built on land, too; not-for-profit organisation Castle Beach conducts free workshops at Castle Beach in East Coast Park every Saturday and Sunday between 3.30pm and 7pm, rain or shine. Even when it rains, it doesn’t last for more than a half hour, and the sand gets prepped for building. Bring your own tools, though – it’s $42 to purchase a deluxe set, and $50 for a super deluxe. East Coast Park, near Carpark E2 and the Cable Ski Park (6346 2252). Free.
Feel the heat of reiki
Sit in on a talk by The Reiki Centre’s resident healer Elaine Grundy, who covers the finer points of this Japanese spiritual practice that’s meant to redirect your life-force energy. The goal is to make people more aware of their bodies and alleviate stress. It’s worth a shot when funds are low. 42A Joo Chiat Pl (9660 4893,www.reikicentre.com.sg). Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Plan a fancy (yet frugal) tea party
Ensconced in a corner of Simpang Bedok, the still-unsung Badoque Cafe (a frou-frou play on ‘Bedok’) can be hard to find, but this hole-in-the-wall café’s worth the schlep for its T-4-2 deal. Bring your closest confidant(e) for a feelgood tea party that includes a spread of eight different pastries, four mini sandwiches and as much tea and coffee as you can drink. The midday rendezvous only sets a pair of pals back $9.
Get on the ice
It may be hot outside, but we got ice, ice baby; the Skating Rink is 600 sq m of solid fun – the ideal rink to try out Michelle Kwan-inspired triple axels and chassés (after all, she did fly in to christen it). Personal skates aren’t allowed, but make sure you bring a pair of socks. It’s $7 for adult admission, $6 for children's admission, $3 for skates and – gasp! – $6 for foot-warmers, so save your shekels for a post-skate hot chocolate. Canal Level, The Shoppes at MBS, 10 Bayfront Ave (6688 8868, www.marinabaysands.com). Daily 11.30am-5pm, 6-8.30pm.
Monkey around at the Reserve
Often shooed away for trying to cop a snack or for being a general nuisance, MacRitchie Reservoir's agile long-tailed macaques actually live within tight-knit social hierarchies – much like we do. The park’s resident monkey experts offer peeks at the little-seen civilised side of these mischief-makers at no charge. Meet at Mushroom Cafe, MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Registration should be done at least 3 days in advance. Free.
Mr Li, who offers $6 haircuts in the alley behind 23 Amoy Street (daily 10am-4.30pm), is a fixture on the Singapore scene – literally. His special barber’s chair is embedded in the pavement, in precisely the same spot where it has been located for some 50 years. Li is one of the few remaining street barbers in the area – and he’s honest to a fault. ‘I can only do simple styles,’ he says. And sorry ladies, he doesn’t cut women’s hair: ‘I’m afraid it’ll look bad and they’ll get mad at me.’ For an even better deal – in a salon, no less – try New Station Beauty & Hair (#01-06, 441A Clementi Ave 3; 6659 4048, two more outlets in town). Regular cuts start at $5. If you’re planning to go back more than four times, consider obtaining a year-long ‘membership’ (valid only at the branch where you sign up) for $15 – at that point, haircuts cost just $2. Oh, and ladies are welcome.
Relax your mind and body
After a hectic week, it’s reassuring to known that relief is available at a price that won’t add to your stress. Enjoy rejuvenation from the inside out by attending a workshop at Sahaja Yoga (#07-15 AZ Building, 140 Paya Lebar Rd; 9237 4027, www.singaporemeditation.org. Every Tue, 7.30-8.30pm; every Wed, 11am-12pm; every Sat 11am-12pm) where you’ll learn to connect with your spirit, cope with stress and improve your general health. Another option is the evening walk-in meditation sessions at the Kadampa Meditation Centre ($12). This Tibetan Buddhist organisation believes meditation is most effective when it’s analytical and focused on one subject.
Spend the afternoon at a concert hall
Spend your day of rest at the Esplanade Concert Hall, treating your ears to tunes from local musicians. Once a month the free concert series, Beautiful Sunday, features performances by local musicians. Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Dr (www.esplanade.com). Free.