Exploring the Singapore River on foot
Singapore’s bustling river is an icon that no tourist to the city-state will want to miss. Here are five must-sees on a walking tour of Singapore’s historic waterfront.
The Singapore River has been an essential commercial hub throughout Singapore’s modern history, where trade flourished and contributed to Singapore’s growth as a prosperous nation. In the ‘70s, after the harbour was relocated to Keppel, the government undertook a massive clean-up effort to redevelop the river.
Today, the Singapore River is one of Singapore’s key entertainment and tourist destinations, with vibrant restaurants and chic bars for leisure seekers, interspersed with beautifully preserved sites of historical significance.
To enjoy all that the Singapore River has to offer, pick a destination hotel right by the waterfront. Millennium Hotels and Resorts has two properties in prime locations, the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore and Studio M Hotel Singapore each allowing you the best access to the top sites in this historical district.
Here are the sites to look out for as you walk down the Singapore River.
Start your walking tour with a prerequisite photo of the Merlion statue, the half-fish, half-lion mascot of Singapore at One Fullerton. Continue walking along the Esplanade Bridge to the Esplanade, Singapore’s premier performing arts centre, which is affectionately called the ‘The Durian’ by locals because of its spiky roof structure. The Esplanade has played host to countless prestigious performing arts groups from around the globe. More impressively, as part of its mission to bring the arts to the masses, about 70 per cent of its performances are free to the public. Check the schedule to see if your trip coincides with any performance you may want to catch.
Raffles landing site
Navigate the series of underpasses and bridges to cross over to the north bank of the river where you’ll find the marble statue of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore. This statue marks the spot where he first set foot in Singapore in 1819.
Just behind the statue is the excellent Asian Civilisation Museum, which is well worth spending a few hours in. The museum offers a fascinating insight into the histories and cultures of Singapore’s many immigrant groups from China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia.
Around the corner from the Asian Civilisation Museum is Singapore’s Parliament House, as well as the new Supreme Court. Stop by the visitor’s centre at Parliament House to find out more about how the country is run. City Hall and the old Supreme Court, also in this vicinity, are currently undergoing refurbishment and will reopen later this year as the National Gallery Singapore, which will focus on displaying Southeast Asian art.
Boat Quay and Clarke Quay
After all that walking and sightseeing, it’s time to refuel. Continue your sojourn along the river until you get to Boat Quay, where restored warehouses and shophouses have been turned into bars and restaurants. Keep your eyes peeled for a small shophouse staircase that will take you to Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall (60A Boat Quay), a speakeasy-style cocktail bar that serves up excellent bespoke drinks.
Want more options? Cross the river and walk upstream for about 700m to get to Clarke Quay, where there are hip clubs to dance the night away in.
End your walking tour at Robertson Quay, another popular district for food, drinks and entertainment. For some art and culture, the homegrown Singapore Repertory Theatre and Singapore Tyler Print Institute are both within walking distance. If you booked your accommodation with Millennium, Studio M Hotel Singapore is right here. Or else, continue upstream for another 10 minutes to get back to the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore for a well-deserved break.