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Month: November 2016

10 Romantic Dating Spots in Singapore for Couples on a Budget

10 Romantic Dating Spots in Singapore for Couples on a Budget

A luxurious dinner is nice but you don’t need to break the bank every time to have a romantic date. They are lots of dating spots in Singapore for couples on a tight budget. Here are a few ideas…

1. The Pinnacle@Duxton

pinnacle duxton
Image credit: Christian van Elven

Romance might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of public housing, but locals will know that the Pinnacle@Duxton is not your average HDB. Soaring 50 storeys high, this huge housing complex is connected by two skyparks. The 26th floor is open to residents only. Head to the 50th floor, which is open to the public, and check out the great views of the city and the port. There are seats and benches to lounge on if you are stopping for a while.

The views from Marina Bay Sands are of course much more spectacular but they come at a premium. To go to the top of the Pinnacle you’ll pay much less and it is still very scenic. You are also in the middle of a neighbourhood with lots of cafes and little eateries. Cross over to Everton Park opposite the Pinnacle and share some delicious ice cream and waffles at Everton Creamery or stop by Nylon Coffee Roasters for a caffeine fix.

The Pinnacle Skybridge entry costs $5.

2. The Projector

audrey hepburn classic
Image credit: barbie.harris37

Not your average movie date night, The Projector is an independent cinema that has revived two cinema halls of the historic Golden Theatre on the 5th floor of Golden Mile Tower. The vibe is old-school cool with many of the original features of the halls remaining. Movie buffs will love the specially curated programmes of indie, foreign, classic and arthouse films. The two halls are called Green Room and Redrum and both are spacious with free seating. Redrum is more casual with beanbags you can cosy up on while watching the show.

The Projector regularly runs special movie events. Single movie tickets cost $13.

3. Jurong Hill

jurong hill singapore date place
Image credit: Allie_Caulfield

Right beside Jurong Bird Park is the lesser-known Jurong Hill Park. Follow Jurong Hill road up to the peak and you will find a tranquil garden and a spiralling tower perched on top. The Jurong Hill Lookout Tower was built in the 1970s and at the time was a popular place to host foreign dignitaries and even royalty such as Elizabeth II, Queen of England. Many of the famous dignitaries also planted trees to commemorate their visit and these can still be seen today in the garden at the foot of the tower.

At the top of the lookout tower, you can get a panoramic view of the surrounding area. Watch the twinkling lights of Jurong Island as it gets dark before setting off for dinner.

4. Affordable french restaurants

saver french food romantic singapore
Image credit: Saveur

French cuisine doesn’t need to be expensive. Try affordable but delicious options such as Saveur, a popular group of restaurants serving quality french food. La Petite Cuisine is a casual bistro at Serene Centre which offers French food with a neighbourhood price tag. Breton, formerly The French Stall, is now a live lobster restaurant. They have set meals to choose from and a tasty yet reasonably priced Surf & Turf.

5. Henderson Waves

henderson waves couple date singapore park
Image credit: edwin.11

The Southern Ridges is a trail along the south-west of Singapore connecting HortPark, Labrador Nature Reserve, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Mount Faber Park. There are lots of picturesque stops along the way but one of the highlights is Henderson Waves. The bridge between Telok Blangah Hill and Mount Faber mimics the undulating shape of waves.

It can get really hot here in the afternoon so an early morning or late afternoon walk would be ideal. At night, the bridge lights up making for a lovely evening walk.

Henderson Waves lights up between 7pm and 7am daily.

6. Live music venues

timbre substation singapore music
Image credit: Jacklee

Discover a new band together or chill out with some classic songs at a live music bar. At Hood Bar and Cafe’s ‘Saturday Original Sessions’ you’ll get to watch the best up-and-coming local indie bands. Or rock out with a line-up of Rock n Roll Blues bands at Crazy Elephant. The ever popular Timbre @Substation has a great ambience and also a varied menu to choose from. The Substation itself is an interesting space where experimental and contemporary works in music, theatre, literature, dance and visual arts are staged.

7. Botanical Gardens

botanical gardens orchis singapore romantic flowers
Image credit: paVan

When the pace of the city gets all too frenzied, the Botanical Gardens is the perfect antidote. Wander around the garden paths and admire the lush green spaces, pretty tropical flowers and shaded rainforest. This UNESCO World Heritage site also houses Burkhill Hall, a popular setting for weddings, super romantic!

Take a stop at Palm Valley if you’re in the mood for a picnic. Just lay out a blanket and some delicious snacks. If you come at the right timing, you’ll be treated to live music, usually classical or jazz, performed at the Symphony Lake at the lower end of the valley.

The Botanical Gardens are open from 5am to midnight. Admission is free. Entry to the National Orchid Garden costs $5 (8.30am to 7pm, last entry 6pm). Check the event schedule for upcoming performances and other activities.

8. The Southern Islands

beach sg islands
Image credit: Richard Lee

The Southern Islands are a collection of eight islets to the south of the mainland in the Singapore Straits. Since three of the islands have been connected, you can easily do some island hopping here. St. John’s, Lazarus and Seringat islands are all connected by bridges. Once you are there, Kusu island is only a five-minute boat ride away.

Explore the paths through the islands and relax upon the tranquil little beaches. Bring along your own drinks and snacks as there aren’t many shops. You might want to carry a beach towel, sunblock, insect repellant and your swimming gear too in case you both want to take a dip. Lazarus island probably has the best beach. It’s a serene alcove of soft sand where you can lay down and peacefully while away a few hours.

St. John’s island can be reached by Singapore Island Cruise ferries. A return trip costs $18.

9. Gardens by the Bay

gardens by the bay singapore
Image credit: LWYang

There are free areas around the Gardens by the Bay, but the conservatories are still my favourite. Escape the afternoon heat inside the two domes, where temperatures are blissfully cool like springtime. Explore the misty Cloud Forest, with its stunning indoor waterfall and unique plants. Surround yourselves with beautiful flowers and trees in the world’s largest greenhouse, the Flower Dome. Since the Flower Dome displays change throughout the year, there is always something new to see.

As the sun sets, head to the Supertree Grove. Marvel at the avatar-like structures from below or walk along the 22-metre high OCBC Skyway, a bridge connecting two of the towering supertrees. Stick around for the light and sound show when the supertree grove comes to life at 7.45pm and 8.45pm daily.

The standard rate for two conservatories is $28. Local resident rate is $12 for one conservatory and $20 for two conservatories. Access to the OCBC Skyway costs $8.

10. Changi Point Coastal Walk

changi coast beach walk east
Image credit: Elena Leong

Soak in beautiful views of the coastline at Changi Point. The walk starts near Changi Village where you can have some yummy food before setting off. It’s a comfortable stroll along a well-lit boardwalk. The walk has six sections going from East to West: Creek Walk, Beach Walk, Sailing Point Walk, Cliff Walk, Kelong Walk and Sunset Walk. Along the way, you can spot some interesting local flora and fauna. There are also lots of good photo opportunities for you and your loved one. The sea view is especially pretty when the sun sets. Take your time and enjoy the rustic ambience of a place where time seems to slow down.

The Changi Boardwalk is open to the public 24 hours.

Whether you’re on a budget or not, I hope you find these suggestions useful for your next date. Good luck!

*This article was originally published for Tripzilla Magazine.

8 Well-Loved Desserts in Singapore that Travellers Must Try

8 Well-Loved Desserts in Singapore that Travellers Must Try

Desserts in Singapore are a melting pot of diverse influences, just like the island’s people. They come together in a colourful smorgasbord of food that is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth! From icy cool dishes to jellies and cakes, here are eight delicious local desserts you’ve got to try when travelling to the sunny island.

1. Cheng Tng

cheng tng ice desserts singapore local food
Image credit: Kyle Lam

Served hot or cold, this golden coloured soup typically contains dried longans, white fungus, barley, gingko nuts and sweet syrup. Ingredients can vary. Some vendors may add other yummy additions like dried persimmon, sweet potato or lotus seeds. As a hot dessert, cheng tng is a warming and comforting treat – simply satisfying! If the weather is just too hot, have the dessert icy cold instead. So sweet and cooling!

Try: Ye Lai Xiang Hot and Cold Cheng Tng. Stall #31, Bedok Corner Food Centre, 1 Bedok Road, 469572. (Closed for renovation 5th Sept to 16 Oct 2016).

2. Bubur Pulut Hitam

bubur pulut hitam black rice pudding hot dessert asian
Image credit: Jan

Simmering sweet black glutinous rice is topped with a whirl of coconut milk to make this scrumptious local favourite. It’s quite a simple recipe but the result is delicious! It’s so easy you can even make it at home. Pulut hitam is a popular dessert in Malaysia, with variations in other Southeast Asian countries too. In Singapore, you can find it at many dessert stalls and if you’re lucky, served with a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream on top.

Try: Qing Tian Cold & Hot Desserts. #01-60, Redhill Food Centre, 85 Redhill Lane, 150085.

3. Tau Suan

tau suan bean local dessert hot singapore chinese
Image credit: Aaron G

Tau Suan is a dessert made with split mung beans and topped with crispy dough fritters (youtiao). The soup base is boiled with sugar and pandan leaves then thickened with potato flour to create this tasty hot dish. I prefer tau suan when the beans have some bite to them and the more youtiao the merrier. It’s a humble old-school treat!

Try: Tiong Bahru Tau Suan. Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre, 30 Seng Poh Road, #02-55, 168898.

4. Ah Balling

tang yuan ah balling soup dessert
Image credit: William Kwok

Ah Balling, also called tang yuan, are soft and slightly chewy glutinous rice balls stuffed with mouthwatering ingredients like peanut, red bean or sesame paste. They are served in a sweet broth which is often infused with ginger, although peanut soup is also very popular. Ah Balling is a Chinese dessert that was traditionally served during the Winter Solstice and Chinese New Year to symbolise togetherness. Today you can enjoy this dish all year round.

Try: 75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup. 505 Beach Road, Golden Mile Food Center #01-75, 199583.

5. Tissue Prata

tissue prata sweet indian food
Image credit: eefeewahfah

Not your average prata, tissue prata is a delicious pyramid of crispy paper-thin prata coated with sugar on its underside. It’s not exactly for the health conscious as it’s usually glazed with a generous amount of butter that drips to the base and is sometimes topped with whirls of chocolate syrup. Yes, you will probably consume a thousand calories in one sitting. And yes, it tastes good.

Try: RK Eating House. 1 Kensington Park Road, 557253.

6. Chendol (Cendol)

chendol cendol ice sweet jelly
Image credit: Derrick Loh

Shaved ice is soaked in creamy coconut milk, drizzled with gula melaka, topped with chendol (soft pandan-flavoured jelly) and red bean to create this indulgent cold treat. Though the dish originates from Singapore’s neighbours, it is still very much a staple sweet on the island. I love how the rich flavours of coconut, palm sugar and the toppings blend perfectly together.

Try: Chendol Melaka Changi Village. 1 Changi Village Road, 01-2046, 500001.

7. Nonya Kueh

kueh cake sweet dessert asian
Image credit: Gabriel Sai

Kueh are a variety of small desserts that come in many different forms, using various ingredients. Coconut milk, gula melaka, pandan and tapioca are essentials that are commonly used in most types of kueh. Our Southeast Asian neighbours will be very familiar with these delectables since they are found all over the region, especially in Malaysia and Indonesia. From the colourful layers of Kueh Lapis to the oozing gula melaka of Ondeh Ondeh, there are so many irresistible kueh to choose from.

Try: Bengawan Solo. Various outlets islandwide.

8. Ice Kachang (Ice Kacang)

ice kachang singapore treats syrup hawker food
Image credit: Kevin Walsh

This list would not be complete without what might be the mother of all Singapore desserts, Ice Kachang. I’m not sure who came up with the idea of red beans, jelly, chendol and attap chee (palm seed) hidden under a mountain of shaved ice, then soaked in the rainbow and doused with evaporated milk, but I’m glad they did. A hit of Ice Kachang is sublime in the hot and humid weather! At many stalls, you can also add extra toppings like sweet corn, mango, durian or chopped peanuts.

Try: Jin Jin Hot/Cold Dessert. Block 6 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-20 ABC Brickworks Market Food Centre, 150006. (Closed on Wednesdays).

There are lots of other desserts to savour in Singapore. I have to give honourable mention to some of my favourites too which are not on this list, including mango sago pudding, Eurasian sugee cake and beancurd! With dessert stalls all around the island, why not indulge in a few of the sweet treats you’ve seen here?

*This article was originally published for Tripzilla Magazine.