With Valentine’s day a week from now, many couples are looking for activities to do together in Brunei. While not widely celebrated in Brunei, I believe people are generally looking for cheap dating ideas. Personally, my wife and I do not celebrate the 14th of February simply because we see it as a commercialised event. Flowers are marked up, restaurants are pushing for “special” 3-course meals, extra decor like balloons are set up and oh, let’s not forget flowers and chocolates. It’s all spend, spend, spend to us (particularly me) and I don’t think it’s worth it.
I do ponder on some cheap dating ideas back when we were dating. It’s only over time that we slowly stuck to a norm of what we like. Fortunately, our tastes do not differ much when it comes to going out and spending time together. I have to say, while cheap dating ideas are good, sometimes saving up a bit to spoil our significant other a little does make them happy. Just don’t buy something they hate! And don’t make the same mistake as I did by being too tight on money.
Cheap Dating Ideas
Honestly speaking, the term “cheap” means differently to different people. A $6 unrefillable pot of tea might be cheap to some, but to a peasant like me, it’s quite pricey. So take these ideas with a pinch of salt and there’s definitely more to do if you think about it!
Also “cheap dating ideas” doesn’t mean “success for sure” either! Your wallet might thank you but you might need to sleep on the couch if they hate the experience. It’s up to individual tastes too.
Low Budget Ideas
These cheap dating ideas focus on keeping costs down as much as possible although some spending are unavoidable.
1. Netflix and Chill
Ok I get it, Netflix isn’t free. But I like the meme that came with it. What I mean is if food is no issue, why not have a cozy night watching a movie at home? Throw in some snacks or finger foods and it’s a pretty good time to be had.
2. Home-cooked dinner
We have our favourite food, and if you can make it at home, it adds to the sentimentalism that you’d go through the effort to make something! Dinner at home can be as fancy or simple as you’d like; so it’s easy to suit individual tastes!
3. Ice cream
There are some nice ice cream startups in Brunei such as Rumah Gelato and Happy Cream. Chilled and not too expensive for a sweet tooth.
4. Stroll in the park
Have some “we-time” strolling and exploring places like Eco Corridor or maybe even Jerudong Park.
5. Cheap local eateries
We have a foodie culture and there are lots of places that are very affordable. Chicken rice, murtabak, pasar malam (night market), kolo mee, mee goreng (fried noodles) and much more make the list!
6. Picnic at the beach
While Brunei doesn’t boast amazing beaches, there are some that make for a nice outing beside the sea. The one in Tutong and Muara come to mind for me.
A couple that exercises together, doesn’t become morbidly obese together. A hike up Tasek Lama in Bandar or Shahbandar is a healthy way to bond through sweat and tears (sometimes literally).
Moderate Budget Ideas
Got some extra money saved up for a night out? It’s not “cheap dating ideas” per se but can be cheap enough to justify opening your wallet.
1. Movie night
If you’re both into movies, our local cinemas are considerably cheap. Bonus savings if you opt for off-peak times like weekdays. You could save $2 or more per ticket!
2. Mid-range restaurants
There’s an old saying “The fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. Food brings people together and higher budget means more choices. You can consider places like WYWY, Cheezbox, Food Zone, Excapade Sushi, fast food, amongst many others.
3. Coffee and tea
Grabbing a hot cuppa joe or tea together (especially in our recent cold, rainy weather) is one of my favourite things to do. A favourite of mine is a local roaster called Roasted Sip. Other options include CBTL (Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf), Starbucks and other local shops. We’ve got tonnes of coffeeshops cropping up and are pretty much spoilt for choice.
Bingsu is a Korean frozen treat that made it’s way to Brunei. I particularly like the one they have at Cafe Bene; not expensive and a huge portion to share!
5. Cakes and treats
Just a subset for cafes. Some cafes serve pretty good cakes and other desserts. You can check out places like Ximply Chriz for cakes and Yugo for frozen desserts.
High Budget Ideas
OK, I’ll admit it, none of these are cheap dating ideas but I want to put it out there in case you want to splurge more than a little. These are activities that I rarely partake other than for food.
1. Hotel Staycation
Staycation is a term I picked up in Singapore. It’s simply staying in your country but in a different place just like you would do on a vacation. In this case, a stay at a hotel. I’ve heard a night’s stay in Brunei’s “Six Star” Empire Resort for locals is pretty cheap; $100+ for a room. Even booking through online booking services isn’t that expensive either!
2. High-end eateries
A majority of my “fun” budget goes to food for obvious reasons: I love to eat (plus there isn’t much to do). With more budgeted here, the options are limitless and you could go for specific cuisines:
- Japanese at Kaizen
- Indian at Le Taj
- Italian at Villa Mauri or Fratini
- Pizza at Margherita
- Steaks and grill at Charcoal or Senja Lounge
- Chinese at All Seasons or Dynasty
The list just keeps going!
3. Adventure to Temburong
I have heard of day-trip packages for an excursion to Temburong (one of the 4 districts of Brunei). There you can go for canopy walks, flying foxes (traveling on a zip-line) and try local delicacies. Last time I checked, these were upwards of $100 per pax.
I remember there was a company called Poni Divers that offered packages to snorkel in the waters around Brunei. Adventurous couples would probably be enticed to go for a swim. And it does sound different from our normal activities!
When it comes to dating on a budget, cheap dating ideas usually trump the others because of its simplicity and the dollar bills you save. Still, if you want to stretch a little for something more, it’s ok too! There’s really no right or wrong way to do this as long as you’re both happy and your bank account isn’t screaming in agony.
That being said, if you have any ideas to add to the list, I’d love to hear from you!
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.
– William Shakespeare