This photo of Marina Bay is courtesy of TripAdvisor
About Singapore River
Singapore River is one of the 90 rivers in Singapore that meanders in the central business district region passing through Boat Quay, Clark Quay and Robertson Quay. It is about 3.2 km long starting from Kim Seng Bridge to its mouth at esplanade where it enters the Marina Channel and flows out to the Singapore Strait. Singapore River is now lined with skyscrapers, commercial buildings and entertainment night spots. It is accessible via Raffles Place, Clarke Quay and Esplanade MRT stations.
History of Singapore River
Singapore’s ancient fishing village called Temasek began at the mouth of Singapore River. Sang Nila Utama later renamed it Singapura which means “Lion City”. The inhabitants in these areas were known as Orang Laut (“Sea-Gypsies”). Temenggong Abdul Rahman arrived from Rhio in 1818 to start up a village on the left side of Singapore River Bank. Then in 1819 Sir Stamford Raffles stepped foot on the north bank of Singapore River and signed the historic treaty with Temenggong Abdul Rahman.
The mouth of Singapore River used to be the Old Port of Singapore. It was the centre of trade, finance and commerce. There were also government buildings built along the River side. Since the 1820s onwards, Singapore River was a centre of trade and commerce. Even till now, the Downtown Core area is still Singapore’s Central Business District, Financial Hub.
The Chinese lived on the South Bank, the Malays stayed in Kampongs upstream and the Indians also lived nearby until they moved further to Kallang, Geylang and Rochor area. Many immigrants work and live around the Singapore River back then.
The 3 main Quays are Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay whereby many boats came in and out daily to trade. The first Quay to be built was located in the current Boat Quay’s location back in 1823. There were shipping services, shophouses and warehouses lining up the quays. Temples, shrines and places of worship were commonly found along the River bank to allow coolies, traders, businessman to pray for safe journey and business. The famous bridges along the river are Anderson Bridge, Elgin Bridge and Cavenagh Bridge.
Singapore River clean up
Due to the heavy traffic, expanding trade and increasing immigrants along Singapore River, the river start to get polluted and congested from 1880s. Disposal of garbage, sewage, industrial waste products and oil spills polluted the Singapore River. As times goes by, Singapore River is filled with trash, dirty water and had a stench.
In 1977, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s Prime Minister back then, brought up the Singapore River cleanup project to clean up and beautify the once beautiful Singapore River and Kallang Basin. He envisions a prosperous, lively riverside waterfront living along this legendary Singapore River. With that thought, a plan and project was drawn up. The major clean up involves restoration of proper sewage system, resettlement of squatters, relocation of heavy industries and re-sitting of street hawkers. It took ten years to complete the cleanup and relocation of the industries and immigrants. So in 1987, the efforts paid off and Singapore River return with its former days charm and glory and an event called the Clean Rivers Commemoration was held to celebrate the success of the project.
After the cleanup, locals can enjoy water activities and ride in speedboats, dragon boats, pedal-boats and sampans along this beautiful river.
Singapore River Today
Currently Singapore River is part of Marina Reservoir after damming the river at its outlet to the sea to create a reservoir of fresh water. After major land reclamation, Singapore River now empties into the Marina Bay. Singapore’s River has stopped its old day’s trade role and shifted towards tourism and entertainment role since the cleanup project in the 1970s. The shipping activities have been shifted to Keppel Harbor.
In the modern days now, there are many hotels, skyscrapers, shopping centre, waterfront living condominiums, al fresco dining outlets and entertainment night spots that line the Singapore River along Boat Quay, Robertson Quay and Clark Quay. There are also river cruise services to allow tourists and local to sail down the river and enjoy its spectacular beauty.
This photo of Merlion Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Historic Monuments along Singapore River
Merlion at Merlion Park, is a Singapore icon. The Merlion standing at 8.6 meters tall, weighing 70 tons, spouts water daily at the South bank of Singapore River’s mouth. This mythical monument was previously resided further down the river, but was moved in 2002 after the opening of the Esplanade Bridge. Mini-Merlion (also known as the "Merlion cub"), only about two meters tall is about 28m away towards the bridge.
Cavenagh Bridge is Singapore’s oldest bridge built in 1869 located right next to Fullerton Hotel.
Raffles Statue located at 1 Empress Place right next to Asian Civilisations Museum is to commemorate Singapore’s founder Sir Stamford Raffles. It was located at the exact spot where he first landed on Singapore Island. This statue is a replica, the actual statue is located at Victoria Theatre.
Museums along Singapore River
Peranankan Museum: located at 39 Armenian St. Its opening hours are: Mon 1-7 PM, Tue-Sun 9:30 AM-7 PM. Contact number is +65-63327591. This unique 3-storey museum showcases exhibits dedicated to the exuberantly colorful culture of the Peranakans, the Malay-Chinese and Malay-Indian traders. It highlights the religion, weddings, food and culture of peranankans.
Mint Museum of Toys: located at 26 Seah St (behind Raffles Hotel). It opens daily from 930am to 630 pm. Contact number is +65-63390660. This 5-storey museum houses the 50,000-piece toy collection of local enthusiast Chang Yang Fa. MINT stands for "Moments of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys". The toy collection comes from over 25 countries and span over a century.
Asian Civilisations Museum: located at 1 Empress Place opens Mon 1-7 PM, Tue-Sun 9:30 AM-7 PM. The contact number is +65-63327798. As its name implies, it houses exhibits of Singapore and neighboring countries in Asia.
Recreational activities along Singapore River
Observation Deck: 1-Altitude Viewing Gallery located at 1 Raffles Place opens Mon-Sun 8AM-10PM. Contact number is +65-65325003. It is just right next to Raffles Place Mrt station. Opened in 2010, at rooftop of OUB Centre it offers visitors 360 degrees panoramic view of Singapore’s Central Business District.
Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall: located at 9 Empress Place (near to Raffles Place MRT). Contact number is +65-63384401. It was built in the 19th century by the British was Singapore’s premier Arts Centre. Since the development of Esplanade, Victoria Theatre now only holds smaller events.
G-Max Reverse Bungy: is located at 3E River Valley Road (Clarke Quay district). Opening hours are Mon-Fri 3 PM-midnight, Sat-Sun noon-1 AM. Contact number is +65-63381146, . This is where you should go if you want some adrenaline rush while enjoying the beauty of the Singapore River.
Marina Bay: Visit Marina Bay Sands which has retail outlets, casino and hotel services. Also nearby lies Gardens by the Bay where you can enjoy an indoor rainforest and admire the flora inside. Want a better view of Singapore? Then go on to the Singapore Flyer. Marina Barrage is a huge open space where you can have a picnic, fly kite and many more.
Shop till you drop: The nearby shopping malls that are nearby here include Funan DigitaLife Mall, The Arcade, Raffles City, Penisular Plaza, Central Mall, Liang Court, Robertson Walk and many more. There are retail shops, supermarkets, banking services, restaurants, cafes salons and many more to cater for all your needs.
Feeling hungry: along Boat quay, Clarke quay and Robertson Quay lies many cafes and restaurants where you can savor and enjoy while you dine along the riverside. Robertson Walk is also lined with many al fresco dining outlets.
Lau Pat Sat Market is a very popular place where you get to enjoy delicious authentic hawker food. Lau Pat Sat means “old market” in Hokkien. About 150 years ago, it was one of Singapore’s oldest wet market and was previously called Telok Ayer Market back in 1825. It’s unique octagon architectural structure was specially James MacRitchie.
Singapore River Cruise: Take a cruise in the Duffy boat or traditional bumboat and sail down the Singapore River while taking in the spectacular views. The cruise is about 40 minutes and u will get to see the picturesque Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Marina Bay. Last trip is about 1030 pm. For adults the ticket price is 20 and children 10. There are also boat charter services available.
Nightlife along Singapore River
Singapore’s number one nightlife entertainment area is centered alongside Singapore River. It starts from the south part of river which lies Boat Quay, running parallel with Boat Quay is Robertson Quay and going down to north part of river which lies Clarke Quay.
Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Robertson Quay is filled with bars, pubs and clubs which are frequent by locals and tourists who like late night partying. It is definitely a place where you can hang out, chill, party all night long into the wee hours. There are also several restaurants serving different cuisines to keep your hunger away.
Waterfront living along SIngapore River
Falling in love with this waterfront living alongside Singapore River? You can choose to have a short stay along the many hotels here such as The Gallery Hotel Singapore, Park Hotel Clark Quay, Robertson Quay Hotel, Fullerton Hotel, Raffles Hotel, Marina Bay Sands, Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay, The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore and Park Regis Singapore.
Thinking of residing in this tropical green island and loving the quayside living? Then maybe you can consider staying in the many condominiums along Robertson Quay as described in other pages on this website.