You might not be Catholic or even have any idea who this Saint Valentine is, but he must have been a very important man, since everyone is spending hundreds of dollars on flowers, chocolate and dimly lit dinners in celebration of his special day. Or maybe you’re just a sucker for teddy bears and special set menus. Whatever it is, Valentine’s Day is probably the second most expensive day of the year to have dinner out, the first being New Year’s Eve.
If you’re determined to show your date a good time on the 14th of Feb without having to schedule your next date for 6 months later as you struggle to rebuild your savings, you’ll have to be very selective about what you choose to do. Here are some wallet-friendly suggestions.
Book a staycation on third party sites like Agoda
Due to the fact that most local adults live with their parents until marriage, hotel staycations are incredibly popular during Valentine’s Day, and this year will be no exception, since the 14th falls on a Saturday. But as every backpacker to the Southeast Asian region knows, hotel accommodation in Singapore is hideously expensive.
Still, it is possible to arrange for a luxurious night’s stay without spending more than $200 if you never, ever book directly from a hotel.
Third party sites (Agoda is my personal favourite) often offer deep, deep discounts on room rates. At the time of writing, Agoda is offering rooms at Mandarin Orchard for $233.10 (usual price $1,000), Hotel Jen Orchardgateway for $207 (usual price $485.45), Carlton Hotel for $198 (usual price $500) and Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel for $180 (usual price $399). Prices fluctuate, so start searching now if you haven’t already.
Tip: Use a credit card that’s currently offering discounts on Agoda bookings, such as Citibank credit cards, selected ANZ credit cards and POSB/DBS credit cards, all of which offer 5% to 7% off. Compare credit cards here if you don’ t know which one you should use.
Head to a neighbourhood restaurant
If you want to have a romantic restaurant meal in beautiful surroundings, get ready to beg your boss for a cash advance when you get back to work on Monday, as Valentine’s Day set menus are insanely expensive. But the ambience at Subway or Seoul Garden won’t exactly have your date feeling amorous.
Instead, head to an intimate restaurant in a quiet neighbourhood where the food is good, the ambience cosy and prices not as inflated. You’ll be sacrificing breathtaking views of the city skyline, but it’s either that or your money. Go during lunchtime to save even more. Here are some recommendations.
- Peperoni Pizzeria – 7 Binjai Park – Woodfired pizza and other Italian fare. About $30 per person.
- Bruno’s Bistrot – 201 Telok Kurau Road #01-06 – Unpretentious and cosy little restaurant serving up Italian cuisine. Budget $35 to $50 per person.
- Megumi Japanese Restaurant – 77 Upper East Coast Road #01-01 – About $30 per person
Tip: Use a credit card that offers cash back on restaurant spending, like the Citibank Dividend and the CIMB Visa Signature. Head over to our friendly credit card comparison page to decide which one to use.
Catch a concert
Part of what people like about Valentine’s Day is getting to dress up in all their finery, which differentiates it from a normal day schlepping around in FBT or army shorts. You get to do just that at this year’s Valentine’s Day Concert staged at the stately Victoria Concert Hall, where musicians from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra will play some winsome Tchaikovsky and some very sexay tango music.
Tickets cost only $22, so if you and your significant other rarely venture further than the neighbourhood hawker centre, this is an inexpensive chance to do something special together.
Tip: The OCBC Arts credit card offers 3x OCBC$ when you make SISTIC bookings. You can also book tickets online using a credit card that offers you cash back for online spending such as OCBC Frank. Compare credit cards right here on MoneySmart.
Go on a museum treasure hunt
If you guys are the competitive sort of couple that runs marathons or enters beer drinking competitions together, take part in the National Heritage Board’s treasure hunt race on Valentine’s Day. Basically, you and your paramour will be running all over the city gathering clues on the various historical buildings in the vicinity, all connected in some way to the topic of lurve.
The race is free to participate in, just drop them an email to register. It also saves you a lot of trouble trying to plan the first half of the day.
Tip: Pray that it won’t be too hot that day.
Do you have any other cheap Valentine’s Day ideas? Let us know in the comments!