Frugal Things to Do in Singapore 2021: Date Ideas from Food to Nature

What are some inexpensive activities for couples to do in Singapore?


2021-08-06

By

Ida Wu

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Singapore is a city of many things, but it is also known for how expensive it can be when it comes to leisure and entertainment.


If you're a young adult couple who hasn't gone out in a while and feel like the spark is close to gone or a couple who has run out of date ideas, you might want to try activities that are local, authentic, fun and meaningful.


We're all young here, so we know what really bugs you– money. We've done some digging and here's a list of eye-opening things for you two to do that are affordable and can liven up your relationship!  




Quick jump to:


  • Lor mee at Taman Food Centre
  • Curry laksa at 928 Yishun Laksa
  • Curry puffs at Old Airport Road Food Centre
  • Vegetarian food and Henna in Little India
  • Sultan Mosque in Arab Street
  • Venture into uncharted territory, Geylang
  • Be spooked and inspired at Haw Par Villa
  • Farms in Kranji Countryside
  • Treetop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir Park
  • Shopping in Bugis Street


  • Food

    "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

    Never underestimate the role food plays in love and this is exactly what food hawkers take advantage of to keep people coming. They cast a spell and make locals and foreigners both fall head over heels with their food and the city.


    If you want to amaze your lover by giving his/her taste buds the show of a lifetime, go to these food centers and stalls and try out their food!



    1. Slurp on lor mee at Taman Jurong Food Centre

    Lor Mee at Taman Food Centre
    Lor mee (Credit: Youtube @ChasingaPlate)


    Taman Food Centre is where you should head to if you are looking for inexpensive but mind-blowing local (street) food and snacks. There are a plethora of choices, but a popular and economical option that you should try is Feng Zhen Lor Mee.


    Their lor mee is a household name not only because it's only S$3.5, but also because of its famous gloopy texture and its perfectly marinated and braised pork. Its refreshing aftertaste from their black vinegar is another signature move that helps them get loyal customers. If you want your partner's taste buds to be eternally grateful to you, then get yourself some lor mee there.


    Price of a lor mee: S$3.5
    Opening hours: Tuesdays to Sundays 5am-3pm
    Address: Feng Zhen Lor Mee, Taman Jurong Food Centre, #03-146, 3 Yung Sheng Road, Singapore 618499




    2. Pay the local hidden gem that sells curry laksa a visit

    Where my pescatarian fam at? If you woke bae is all about that lifestyle, then you've got to get yourselves a curry laksa or two.


    Curry laksa
    Curry laksa (Credit: Instagram @alicewwp)


    You get your meat or protein fix from the fish cake slices, cockles and half-boiled egg. The rest of the dish is vegetarian, with heaps of spices.


    What food bloggers love about this curry laksa are the ridiculously "absorbent" sponge-like tofu puffs and the creamy, rich curry broth that reminds them of what spicy first love tastes like. Remind yourself why you fell for each other with this!


    Not to mention, it is considered a must-have due to how bouncy the rice noodles are.


    We urge you because we know you're in search of authentic local experiences with convenient locations. You're in luck as it's located at the bottom of a public housing block– easily accessible for both of you. No dining experience could be more local than that!


    Plus, the curry laksa in the picture is only S$2.8.  



    Price of a laksa: S$2.8
    Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays 8:30am-6pm
    Address: 928 Yishun Laksa, 928 Yishun Central 1, #01-155, Singapore 760928




    3. Let curry puffs at Old Airport Road Food Centre give you a foodgasm

    Four Wang Wang Crispy Curry Puffs on a white plate
    Wang Wang Crispy Curry puffs (Credit: Instagram @jamietan04)


    If you've never got your significant other one of these, you're ineligible to claim the good boy/girlfriend title!


    If a friend is "flaky", it means he/she comes off as irresponsible and I'd suggest you distance yourself from him/her.


    However, if a pastry product is "flaky",  dive in and get obsessed. The puffs are awfully crumbly and their flakes dissolve in your mouth. It will send you two directly to pastry heaven. You'll thank me later.


    No one in their right mind would turn this down. If their flakes aren't enough to blow his/her mind, fine. The puffs taste so buttery that he/she'll be taken back in time to when they were a baby.  It is that refined.


    Besides, they are dry on the outside, but juicy and wet on the inside. I'm not joking, but they're packing, literally. They're this round and they weigh solid for a reason.


    You buy food, you get food and only that. No air bubbles inside, unlike Lays chips, where a packet is 70% air.  


    Price of a curry puff: S$3
    Opening hours: Tuesdays to Sundays 10am-8pm
    Address: Wang Wang Crispy Curry Puff, Old Airport Road Food Centre and Shopping Mall, 51 Old Airport Road, #01-126, Singapore 390051




    Culture/ethnic






    4. Treat yourself to some vegetarian food and Henna in Little India



    Komala Vilas Restaurant


    Rice Meal at Komala Vilas Restaurant
    Rice Meal at Komala Vilas Restaurant (Credit: HappyCow)


    If an Indian restaurant is packed with Indians, then you know their food is authentic. This is exactly the norm at the Komala Vilas Restaurant. There are dishes below S$15 aplenty and the place has garnered positive feedback concerning the quality of food and service over the years.


    Famous for their delicious and reasonably priced vegetarian South Indian food, another reason why everybody in the community is familiar with it is its rich history, for it's been serving to give vegetarian dishes a refreshing touch since 1947.


    If your boy/girlfriend can't resist classic family-run diners, this is the location of your next date.    


    To health nut couples, I've got good news for you... Vegan options are available at Komala Vilas!


    Opening hours: Daily 7am-10:30pm

    Address: 76-78 Serangoon Road, Central Singapore, Singapore 217981




    Greenleaf Cafe


    Scrumptious meal at Greenleaf Cafe
    (Credit: Greenleaf Cafe website)


    Health nuts, you are in luck again because Greenleaf Cafe serves both vegetarian and vegan food. Greenleaf is on its way to becoming the new it girl thanks to its expertise in spices and for the ultra healthy approach it takes. "Delicious" and "healthy" are used the most frequently to describe this diner online.


    For meat lover lovers, if you feel like you and your feisty boo could use a change, don't hesitate and plan your trip to Greenleaf! You don't come across affordable and delicious vegetarian/vegan food like this every dynasty!


    Opening hours: Wednesdays to Mondays 11am-10:30pm

    Address: 43 Cuff Road, Singapore 209753






    Little India Arcade


    Henna tattooing at Little India Arcade (Credit: Flickr @rachelagathaoh)
    Henna tattooing at Little India Arcade


    Little India Arcade is like the hidden gem within a hidden gem. If you are searching for authenticity in food, fashion and music, you will find your answers at the Arcade.


    If you want to know how happy Indian brides feel on traditional wedding days, consider getting a Henna tattoo together with your bae. They are an indispensable part of a traditional Indian wedding because of their symbolism in good luck and positive spirits. Small shops that specialize in it are everywhere in the Arcade.


    Starting from just S$5, this kind of tattoo can hold up its appearance for around two weeks until it starts to fade. Perfect for partners who are suspected of having commitment issues who didn't want to place any stickers on their notebooks as a kid because they stick.    


    If your man/girl is a sucker for historical sites, this is the place for you two since the building that is home to these small local stalls was built in the 1920s.


    Price of a Henna tattoo: starting from S$5
    Opening hours: Mondays to Saturdays 9:30am-8:45pm, Sundays 9:30am–6pm

    Address: 48 Serangoon Road, #02-07, Singapore 217959






    5. Travel to Sultan Mosque to have a soul cleanse





    Sultan Mosque (Masjid Sultan) in Arab Street
    Sultan Mosque (Credit: Roots)


    Built in 1824 and gazetted as a national monument in 1975, Sultan Mosque is the most historical and iconic place of worship in Singapore according to many tourists. The regal ambiance and the onion dome are by the hands of architect Denis Santry, who was affiliated with Singapore's oldest architectural firm.


    At the bottom of the domes, brown glass bottle ends provided by community residents can be found adorning the establishment. Feels good to know that civilians had a hand in creating this work of art, doesn't it?


    If you want to take a real break and have serenity breathed into your body, this is the place for you lovebirds to go.


    No tank tops or showing midriffs, though, but fear not. Cloaks will be provided free of charge should you need to change into something respectful for the Mosque.


    Admission fee (walk-in): FREE

    More information about their opening hours.

    Address:3 Muscat St, Singapore 198833






    6. Embark on the Geyland adventure tour




    Participants sitting in a circle on Geylang adventure tour
    Geylang adventure tour (Credit: Citizen Adventures website)


    Set foot in Singapore's underbelly Geylang which is home to a legal red light district, and people from all walks of life from different parts of the globe. If you go on this tour, you will navigate the community with the help of tour guides who belong to an organization that advocates for social change.


    They facilitate insightful dialogue and provide participants with new perspectives by telling them stories and secrets from the locals, and illicit thought-provoking discussions by looking into the impacts of post-riot measures and the tightening of social control on their distinct ecosystem.


    If social change and justice are what your revolutionary bae is passionate about and if you're interested in knowing how there's more than meets the eye in Geylang, you can get yourselves a 3-hour life-changing experience for just S$40-50 (only S$40 if you are a student going on a tour on a weekday).


    If you want to grow together and watch how your love's face changes with each piece of mind-boggling information, go on this adventure together.


    We know this is a stark contrast from the inexpensive activity recommendations, but I guarantee you it will be worth your while.


    Details about the adventure tours and their objectives.

    Price of a tour: S$40-50
    Opening hours of tours: Starting time of tours may vary

    Address: 228 Changi Road #01-05, Singapore 419741






    7. Give your heart the rollercoaster ride of a lifetime at Haw Par Villa




    Statue of Hu Fa Shi Zhe (R) at Haw Par Villa
    Statue of Hu Fa Shi Zhe (R) at Haw Par Villa (Credit: BBC News)


    Haw Par Villa was a gift to Singapore from the Burmese philanthropists and creators of Tiger Balm, but little do kids here know the horrors the Park has in store for them.


    With a strong Chinese influence, the haunted park is filled with eerie and bizarre statues and dioramas depicting Chinese folklore and mythological creatures.


    Some illustrating the brutal punishments and executions conducted in the underworld are so graphic that I'm having a shivering fit writing about the Park at night, but I find it funny that a lot of parents would bring their children all the way here to spook them in order to curb undesirable behavior.


    If you want to know why your partner has trouble falling asleep, you can pay Haw Par Villa a visit. You should take your freaky partner there if he/she is a die-hard horror fan.


    You don't have to pay to be admitted and you only need to if you want to go on a tour. If you're still in school, have your student ID prepared if you want to pay for a cheaper price.


    Admission fee: FREE
    Price of a Daily Tour (adult): S$10    
    Price of a Twilight Tour: (adult) S$20, (student) S$15
    Opening hours: Daily 9am-10pm

    Address: 262 Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore 118 628







    Nature





    8. Get down to earth and live the farm life in Kranji Countryside



    Visitors feeding the goats in Kranji Countryside
    Visitors feeding the goats in Kranji Countryside (Credit: flicker @acroamatic)


    If your health-conscious bae enjoys investigating where their food comes from and if their diet consists mainly of fresh produce, the Kranji Countryside will be like heaven to them!


    Not only can it satiate your curiosity with educational tours, but you can also observe as a guest AND experience farm life as a farmer! Farming dates are becoming trendy, so you might want to jot all of this down.


    Famous for having the only goat farm producing fresh goat milk that is open to the public for free, you two can feed the adorable goats and watch the real farmers milk them.


    If you're feeling like a milk cleanse, fresh goat milk is available for purchase shortly after the tour.


    On top of that, the Countryside also houses the city's largest koi farm. You probably have no idea how much fun fish watching is so I suggest you two try it out.


    Another area worth going to is the Jurong Frog Farm. Educational tours available aside, you can have the chance to feed and catch the amphibians.


    When you're done, this is going to sound twisted and dark, but you can wrap it up by munching on some frog dishes... If you are hooked on the taste, frog meat is also available for purchase.  


    Admission fee: FREE
    Bus fare roundtrip: S$3

    The opening hours and admission fee for different areas in the countryside vary, please visit the official website for more details.

    Address: 960 Woodlands Road Kranji Mrt Station, Singapore 738702 Singapore






    9. Be one with nature on the Treetop Walk




    Treetop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir Park (Credit: Flickr @letisha81)
    Treetop Walk (Credit: Flickr @letisha81)


    Any hiking enthusiasts and adrenaline junkie couples here? You will be happy to know that you need to walk approximately 4.5km to get to the 250m Treetop Walk that is 25m suspended in mid-air.


    If you've always wanted to soar to great heights, you ought to put the Walk on your bucket list as it gives you a bird's-eye view of the forest canopy.


    It's nearly impossible for your eyes to feast upon the lush forest canopy like that on a normal day, but now you can do it without paying a dime!


    Going on this walk is a must for many of your kind because the breeze on the bridge is so gentle as if she was caressing your face and playfully nudging you to keep exploring. Perfect for boy/girlfriends who complains about the heat 24/7.


    A really cheeky bonus is the animals. The sight of flying foxes is so mesmerizing that it can put a man in a silly trance. Here's an idea– take pics of your partner when he/she is desperately looking for flying foxes like a loon.


    However, there are a couple of things you need to take into account. The trail to the Walk is a long one, so show up with good hiking shoes/boots.


    Because of how breathtaking the view is up there, you will probably end up staying there longer than you anticipated. Just a reminder: absolutely don't forget your insect/mosquito repellent.


    Also, beware of wild boars and handsy monkeys. If you leave your food unattended for just one second, chances are that you won't get to see it again. Get that on your notepad if your bae goes off easily if things happen to his/her food.


    Admission fee: FREE
    Opening hours: Tuesdays to Fridays 9am-5pm, weekend and public holidays 8:30am-5pm

    Address: 379 Upper Thomson Rd, MacRitchie Reservoir Park, Singapore




    Shopping





    10. Go crazy on thrifting and bargaining in Bugis Street




    Go big or go home, and you're in luck because Bugis Street is the largest street-shopping venue in the Singaporean city. If you're experimenting with fashion or if your partner is a fashionista in search of diversity, the wallet-friendly Bugis Street has so much to offer!


    If wacky or ethnic trinkets are what you have in mind for his/her birthday, you can stay because they have that, too!


    If you want to know if they could sell things for cheaper or if you want to impress your honey with your silver tongue, if the shop happens to allow bargaining– which most of them do– it's your lucky day because you'll walk out of Bugis Street a more competent debater with goods that cost exactly how much they're worth, and with your bae who finds you more alluring than ever.


    Opening hours: 12pm-10pm

    Address: 3 New Bugis Street, Singapore 188867






    Singapore is so much more than just a list of things to do when traveling abroad. Certainly, the city has a glamorous side, but deep into the other side, wholesome hidden gems that promise you nothing but unforgettable memories can be found.


    These are just a few things we recommend you to do. We hope you lovebirds can have a blast ticking things off this list of suggestions and we look forward to expanding this very list in the near future together!




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