Everything you need to do along the Singapore River
From nightlife to museums.
Back in the early days, the Singapore River was the former British colony’s main trade artery and focus for all commercial activity. Today, the riverbanks are still abuzz but the bustle of entrepot trade has been replaced with an array of restaurants, after-dark entertainment and historical spots. The contrasting sight of restored colonial landmarks like The Fullerton Hotel sitting next to towering modern skyscrapers makes this neighborhood a particularly striking one to explore.
A sculpture of a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, the Merlion (1 Fullerton Square, 6736-6622) is Singapore’s most iconic mascot. Its head represents the country’s original name Singapura (Lion City) while its body symbolizes the fishing village that the island used to be. See the historical site where Sir Stamford Raffles landed in 1819 and the architecturally stunning Cavenagh Bridge (linked to the Marina waterfront). It’s also hard to miss the Old Hill Street Police Station (140 Hill St., 6270-7988), home to the Ministry of Communication and Information, and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, with its distinctive colorful window shutters. Explore this vibrant stretch along the river via the Singapore River Cruise (6336-6111, $3), which takes you from Clarke Quay to the Singapore Flyer and on to Marina Bay Sands.
The first museum in the region to present a broad perspective of pan-Asian cultures and civilizations is the Asian Civilisations Museum (1 Empress Place, 6332-2982). It houses 11 galleries that showcase over 1,300 artifacts. If you prefer theater, the Singapore Repertory Theatre (20 Merbau Rd., 6221- 5585) stages both original and popular classic productions.
Dining & Nightlife
Over the years, the Singapore River has grown to include a host of eateries and nightlife spots, many of which are in Boat Quay. Here, you will find bustling bars showing live sports on TV alongside craft cocktail bars.
In the area, located just above Clarke Quay MRT Station, is Central (6 Eu Tong Sen St., 6532-9922), which offers great dining options like ramen house Santouka Ramen, fashion boutiques, as well as eclectic retailers like Shinnpark.
If you’re looking to paint the town red, Clarke Quay is right up your alley. Enjoy live entertainment at restaurants and bars such as McGettigan’s and The Pump Room. Those who want to dance the night away can visit Zouk (#01-05 The Cannery, 3C River Valley Rd.) for a world-class clubbing experience. The longest standing club in Singapore, Zouk has a constant stream of international guest DJs.
The Robertson Quay stretch houses establishments like Italian restaurant Rosso Vino and Belgian beer and mussels bar Brussels Sprouts. Those exploring this area in the day have plenty of options, too. For a peaceful afternoon away from the hustle and bustle, take your pick from chic cafes like Toby’s Estate and specialty chocolatier Laurent Bernard.