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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.