Singapore River

The Singapore River was the lifeline of Singapore where our first immigrants eked out a meagre living and saw Singapore transform from an obscure little fishing village to a great seaport. And into a modern metropolis famous for its skyscrapers, the Merlion and "gastro-mania". Highlights on the banks of the Singapore River include Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, landmarks and memorials such as Merlion Park and Parliament House, museums such as the Asian Civilisations Museum as well as temples and mosques such as the Tan Si Chong Su Temple and Omar Kampong Melaka Mosque.

Marvel at these sights as you stroll along the banks of the river. Alternatively, hop onto a glass-top boat or bumboat and enjoy a leisure cruise on the river. Choose from a range of riverboat services available - loop hop-on and hop-off, river express, river taxi and leisure sightseeing tours. For more information on the services available.

Boat Quay

The trailblazer of the Singapore entertainment scene, Boat Quay is arguably Singapore's best place to 'chill out'. With a good mix of high end restaurants and alfresco dining and lively bars and pubs, Boat Quay is the hangout for most professionals and expatriates.

Imagine that only a century ago, sun-tanned coolies and swaylos (water-hands) balanced heavy gunny-sacks of rice on their shoulders, with springy gangplanks under their feet, loading and unloading a bewildering plethora of produce. When Raffles signed the agreement securing the auspicious title of free port for Singapore, this instantly opened the floodgates of immigrants from neighbouring countries. Within six months, Boat Quay had become a hothouse for trading, and by the 1860's, three-quarters of all shipping business was done at Boat Quay. Here was the starting point of all that is Singapore today: affluent, hardworking and adamant on success. Immigrants were keen to erect their shophouses on the already crammed south side of the River, because it resembled the concaved belly of a carp, which according to Chinese belief, was where prosperity and wealth lay. Notice how the row of shophouses, which have been carefully conserved, vary in height. This was a sign of each man's wealth - the higher the shophouse, the wealthier the owner.

Check Out:
Harry's Quayside (jazz bar)
Getting There: Head towards the Singapore River from Raffles Place MRT (EW14/NS26).

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Clarke Quay

Another popular riverside landmark in Singapore. Featuring five blocks of restored warehouses, it is home to hip entertainment, dining outlets and shops of all kinds, including second-hand and antique shops. The Satay Club with its variety of satay and barbecued seafood should not be missed. In the evening, theme pubs and bars come alive with classic rock, hard rock, the blues and music from the 60s. There are even moored Chinese junks (tongkangs) refurbished into floating pubs and restaurants. Named after Sir Andrew Clarke, Singapore's second governor, Clarke Quay had been the commercial centre, where an unending stream of lighters would transport their goods upriver to the very warehouses that now contain shops of every extravagant nature.

Near the entrance to Clarke Quay on River Valley Road is Whampoa's Ice House which belonged to Hoo Ah Kay, an early immigrant from Whampoa, China who imported ice from Boston in the mid-1800s before ice-making facilities were available in Singapore. Note how the Chinese and European merchants brought their own architectural styles to the area. Visitors can also look forward to some exciting events and activities held on a regular basis. There's also the Sunday Flea Market for great bargains (10am to 6pm) with over 70 stalls selling antiques and collectibles, handicrafts and more.

Check out:
J P Bastiani (Mediterranean Bar and Restaurant - voted Best Dining Experience in 1996)
Getting There: Best by taxi. Alternatively, take a river taxi from Raffles Place in front of Standard Chartered Building.
Web sites :
Clarke Quay

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Merlion Park

The Merlion Park is home to the half-lion, half-fish sculpture which is a national icon. Officially installed on 15 September 1972, the Merlion statue, situated at the mouth of the Singapore River, is a favourite among photographers and tourists. The Merlion has recently been relocated to a new site at One Fullerton. At its new location, the Merlion, with the city as its backdrop will have greater prominence and visibility.  Restoration works on the Merlion are currently underway and the the new Merlion Park will be opened to the public in September 2002.

Merlion Park
Getting There: Take the MRT to Raffles Place Station (NS26/EW14) and walk towards the Esplanade or take TIBS bus 167 or 182 from Orchard Road.

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Parliament House

Designed and built by George Coleman as a colonial mansion in 1827, this is Singapore's oldest government building. It was the former home of Singapore's democratically-elected Parliament. Visitors to the stately building are greeted by a bronze elephant statue, a gift from King Chulalongkorn of Siam in 1871. Singapore's Parliament has shifted to new premises at 1 Parliament Place, just a short walk away.

Empress Place
Getting There:
Take the MRT to Raffles Place Station (EW14/NS26) and walk across Cavenagh Bridge.

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Asian Civilisations Museum

The exhibits in the first wing of the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM I) are housed in a restored neo-classical building dating back to 1910. The focus of the first wing of the museum is on Chinese civilisation and culture. On display is also the museum's highly acclaimed permanent exhibition, the Peranakan Legacy, which showcases the rich material heritage of the Peranakans from the Straits Settlements and the Indonesian Archipelago. Among the highlights will be a display of the museum's renowned batik, embroidery and beadwork collections and a chance to view exquisite silver and porcelain pieces.

The next wing of the Museum (ACM II), located at the Empress Place Building, has just re-opened in February 2003 after some renovation. Spread over three levels, a series of thematic galleries will give an insight into the cultural heritage of India, China, Southeast Asia and the Islamic World. State-of-the-art display and interactive technologies with educational elements will be carefully integrated into the galleries, along with a centre specially dedicated to younger visitors. A special exhibition gallery will also be provided, to house blockbuster exhibitions. These exhibits will be enhanced by exciting fringe events that will bring ancient traditions, practices and art forms to life.

12 noon - 6pm (Mon), 9am - 6pm (Tue - Thur, Sat & Sun), 9am - 9pm (Fri)
Admission: SGD 3 adults, SGD 1.50 children (6 - 16 years) and seniors
SGD 8 Family ticket (max 5 members)
Prices may change when there are special exhibitions.
Free admission on late nights every Friday 6pm to 9pm.
Guided Tours:
11am, 2pm (Tue to Fri) for English language tours with an additional tour at 3:30pm on Sat. and Sun.
10.30am (Tue to Fri) for Japanese language tours.
Approximate Touring Time:
2 hours
ACM 1 - 39 Armenian Street Singapore 179941
ACM II - Empress Place, 1 Empress Place 179555
Tel: (65) 6332 3015 / 6332 3284
(65) 6332 7993
Getting There: From City Hall MRT Station (NS25/EW13), walk towards Stamford Road and turn into Armenian
Street at the MPH bookshop. The museum is diagonally across from MPH.
Accessibility for the physically disabled: The following information is obtained from Access Singapore.

  • Main entrance - Access by ramp (low kerb at entrance). Accessible to wheelchair and ambulant-disabled.

  • Accessibility within the premises - Accessible to wheelchair and ambulant-disabled.

  • Lifts - Accessible to wheelchair and ambulant-disabled.

  • Public toilets for the disabled - Ground level. Entrance door is heavy. Access is limited and assistance may be required. Accessible to ambulant-disabled.

  • Eating outlets - Level 1. Accessible to wheelchair and ambulant-disabled.

Web sites : Asian Civilisations Museum (

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Tan Si Chong Su Temple

This ancestral Hokkien temple, which is also a community centre for the Tan clan in Singapore, is said to have excellent "feng shui" (luck or blessings). The decorations of the temple, built in 1876, are very well preserved, particularly the altars with their ancestral tablets. Much of the material used to build this riverside temple arrived in Singapore as ballast.

15, Magazine Road Singapore 059568
Getting There:
Take a taxi from Raffles Place MRT Station (EW14/NS26) or Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station (NS24).

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  Information provided by Singapore Tourism Board.


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