12 cheap things to do at nighttime

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Get out and see the city without breaking the bank: TOS staffers round up Singapore’s best budget-friendly activities for the evening, all costing just $10 or less. This list of nighttime activities will keep your night interesting and your wallet plump

First published on 10 Oct 2011. Updated on 12 Feb 2012.

Crack open some seafood
The ongoing ‘Which is better: chilli or black pepper crab?’ debate will never come to a head on this island. We also reckon it will stay forever pricey to crack into these traditional claws. Seafood lovers, fear not: Crab Shack – a Western eatery specialising in crabs – has reopened its doors, this time in a kopitiam in Ang Mo Kio. While the sauce will differ from both much-loved flavours, there are great things to be said about the home-made sweet Thai dipping sauce being used here. The man tou (deep-fried buns) has been replaced with a generous pile of fries. Blk 107, Ang Mo Kio Ave 4 (9451 9040). Daily noon-midnight. Regular crab meal (two crabs served with fries) $9.90.

Catch free flicks
ION (ION2 square, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn; 6238 8228. Last Sat of every month; 10pm.) screens free movies on its massive entrance screen once a month. Though the month’s pick isn’t announced until just before the show, previous months have featured Hollywood blockbusters such as Fast Five (to coincide with the F1), Rango, Avatar and Ice Age 3.

Another option is The Substation’s First Take (45 Armenian St; 6337 7535, www.substation.org. First Mon of every month; 8pm), a free movie series showcasing short films from Singaporean directors, which takes place on the first Monday of every month. The annual series culminates in December with a nighttime showing of the favourites of the year. Directors featured in the past few months have included Iskandar Ramli, Chong Ren Rong, Jocelyn Lee and Daniel Yam.

Have a friendly feud over board games
The first of its breed in Singapore, Settler’s Cafe’s (various locations including 39 North Canal Rd; 6535 0435, www.settlerscafe.com) have been a board-game geek’s hideaway since 2003, with over 550 different names like Blockus and Citadels piled high. They’re also the gentlest on the pockets, with their Chill Out package ($4) offering four hours of pure dice casting, card shuffling and one-upping until 6pm on Sundays and from 6pm Monday to Thursday. Saturday’s Big Gulp package ($9.90) is just as enticing, with free-flow (soda) drinks and board games for four hours from opening to 6pm.

On weekdays, Mind Café’s (various locations including 60A Prinsep St; 6334 4426, www.themindcafe.com.sg. Mon-Fri 2-6pm) family-friendly happy hour ($6) lets you clock in four hours of cracking your noggin with its well-stocked shelves of board games as well as free-flow of selected soft drinks – definitely more cost-effective than buying Monopoly from Toys “R” Us. Have a laugh with rowdy party favourites like Taboo or stew over more obscure, strategy-based teasers like Munchkin and Carcassonne.

Catch tunes on the waterfront
Before music junkies grow weary from digging deep into their reserves for acts like Sondre Lerche and Andrew Bird, the Esplanade, like a Good Samaritan, cushions the usual blow to wallets with free performances at dusk every weekend. Their On the Waterfront series casts its net wide, spotlighting everything from Mandopop evergreens to alternative acts from the region. November sees Indian rock vets Parikrama fusing heavy rock with classical Indian elements. Outdoor Stage, Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Dr (6828 8377, www.esplanade.com). Every Fri-Sun; various times. Free. 

Free nights at the museum
Get free admission to the National Museum’s Living Galleries daily after 6pm (last entry 7.30pm) and the Singapore Art Museum every Friday after 6pm (last entry 8.30pm).

Trivia night, drink in hand
Cram your brain with fun facts before heading to Picotin. This bistro, tucked away in Turf City, schedules a trivia night on alternate Wednesdays of the month (5 & 19 Oct) at 8pm. Show up with a team of up to eight, or try and latch yourself on to another table of the smartest-looking folk in the room. While throwing back a bottle of beer (starting at $8) or sipping on your Martini Bianco ($9), remember that strict rules regarding Blackberry and iPhone use have been instated, so no cheating. Best part? You stand a chance to go home with a $100 restaurant voucher, or even limited-edition wines. You may leave a better (or at least richer) person than when you arrived. 100 Turf Club Rd (6877 1191, www.picotin.com.sg).

Spot the next rock star
Fledgling bards and established bands alike get a chance to gleam at Originals Only Open Mike night, a monthly showcase curated by Singapore Art Museum and Singapore Art Café. Toddle down every first Friday of the month to catch acts like Deon Toh and Cheating Sons playing their 100 per cent original stylings alfresco. Plaza, 8Q SAM, 8 Queen St (6332 3200, www.singaporeartmuseum.sg). Every first Fri of the month; 7-9pm.

Hooray for happy hour
There are plenty of 1-for-1 happy-hour deals around town, but one that lowers the price from the start is The Jackson Plan’s three-hour happy hour(s), during which all housepours are only $5. The Duxton Hill gastropub’s outdoor deck is filled with raised counter seating and long tables to accommodate large groups for after-work griping. 40 Duxton Hill (6866 1988, www.thejacksonplan.com). Happy hour daily 5-8pm.

Shake your booty, girls
All the ladies are invited to Recognize! Studios on Thursdays to join open dance classes for $10. Shake your hips to hip hop beats in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirror, and feel like a badass with the graffiti-covered wall in the background. The folks from Recognize! boast that their classes enhance a woman’s ‘sense of sexiness’ – only one way to find out… #05-31 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Rd (6509 0650, www.recognizestudios.com). Thu 7pm. $10.

Request your favourite song
The first thought that bubbles up whenever someone mentions Timbre is ‘ace live music’ (the second’s usually ‘roast duck pizza, stat!’). Each of its three incarnations has a tight roster of resident bands like Goodfellas and Raw Earth that happily accede to song requests and chat up the gung-ho, youngish crowd like old buds. Let your ears do the picking for you: The Substation and Arts House have livelier sets, while Old School veers towards mellow, unplugged guitar. But while the newer outposts have Sundays off, Timbre @ The Substation gives its punters a music fix all week. We suggest keeping tabs on 53A’s slot – they’re known to break out an X-rated parody of ‘I Will Survive’. Various venues (www.timbre.com.sg).

Have a laugh
A cheap cover charge doesn’t always mean the laughs are cheap as well – Home Club’s Comedy Masala night is the most affordable standup session to let loose with the giggles. The pint-sized indie hideout gets packed to the rafters on Tuesdays, with humour aficionados lubed up on happy-hour booze egging on the after-hours comedians. Home Club, #B1-06 The Riverwalk, 20 Upper Circular Rd (6538 2928, www.homeclub.com.sg). Tue 9pm. Free.

Get onstage
Limelight lovers can get their five minutes of fame, give or take, for little more than the price of a pint. Make for a three-song quickie – from classic rock to the latest hits – at Actors (13A-15A South Bridge Rd; 6535 3270, www.actorsthejambar.com). Mon-Thu 6pm-2am; Fri & Sat 6pm-3am; Sun 6pm-2am. Free), where every spot in their makeshift band is free for rock-star wannabes to occupy. Meanwhile, Mandopop advocates can warble to their favourite ditties at backpacker shack Cow & Coolies (30 Mosque St; 6221 1239. Mon-Thu 5pm-1am; Fri & Sat 5pm-2am. Free). The ground-floor pub is a popular pansexual haunt with karaoke where everyone gets along, no matter which side of the fence they’re on. Crocodile Rock (#05-29 Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Rd; 6738 0535. Tue & Wed 7.30pm-midnight; Thu 7.30pm-1am; Fri & Sat 7.30-3am. Free), a low-profile karaoke bar geared at ladies – and genteel men – that lets showerhead singer types yodel to their lungs’ content, and plies cheap shooters to boot.

Cool DJs with no cover
Slick, fidget-friendly choons are hard to come by when you’re strapped for cash. Lucky us, then, that Alley Bar’s (180 Orchard Rd; 6738 8818, www.peranakanplace.com. Sat 9pm) daily 5-9pm happy hour isn’t its only trump card. Local beatsmith Kane Ian, who recently released the airy, funktastic album Space Nutz, has settled in as Saturday’s resident housecat, spinning his brand of soul-tossed house in this chic yet unpretentious shophouse dive. The folks at Tanjong Beach Club (120 Tanjong Beach Walk; 6270 1355, www.tanjongbeachclub.com. Every Wed-Sat; 10pm onwards) see to it that their beachside playground’s always buzzing with slammin’ beats at no charge atop Sentosa’s entry fee – party philanthropy, really. Drum ’n’ bass troublemaker DJ Has takes up roost on Wednesdays, while electro pimp DJ KFC holds court on both Thursdays and Fridays. On Saturdays, US-bred jock Tyler Made fires up lashings of his trademark mashups, dabbling in funk, dancehall, old-school disco and everything in between.

By TOS editors
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