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Cruises on the Singapore River] ''' are a popular way to see the heart of the city. Stations are scattered along both banks of the river and reservations are not necessary. Prices start at S$3 for a simple ride from point A to point B. |+|
'''[http://www.rivercruise.com.sg]popular way to see the heart of the city. Stations are scattered along both banks of the river and reservations are not necessary. Prices start at S$3 for a simple ride from point A to point B.
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Revision as of 20:19, 30 November 2005
The Singapore River forms a central artery in Singapore's densely packed Central Business District. It houses many of Singapore's top historical and cultural attractions as well as the bulk of its nightspots along the riverside streets of Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robinson Quay plus nearby Mohamed Sultan.
The Merlion and the Central Business District skyline
The riverside is best accessed by MRT Raffles Place (North-South/East-West Lines) and Clarke Quay (North-East Line) stations. There is no convenient MRT station for the western end of the river though: you'll have to hike on foot for 15 minutes, try to work out the buses, or hop on a bumboat (see Get around).
- Cruises on the Singapore River, . A popular way to see the heart of the city. Stations are scattered along both banks of the river and reservations are not necessary. Prices start at S$3 for a simple ride from point A to point B.
The bulk of Singapore's historical attractions are packed by the river, and the best place to start your tour is at the mouth of the Singapore River.
- Merlion. Merlion Park (Raffles Place MRT exit H, off Fullerton Rd). Singapore's official symbol spouts water daily on the south bank of the mouth of the Singapore river. Designed by the Singapore Tourism Board in 1970, many a commentator has pondered on the inherent contradictions of a creature that is half-cat, half-fish — much like Singapore itself.
- Cavenagh Bridge. Next to Fullerton Hotel. Singapore's oldest bridge and its only suspension bridge, constructed in 1869. Now a pedestrian walkway across the mouth of the Singapore River; note the original sign forbidding cattle to cross.
- Raffles Statue. 1 Empress Place (next to Asian Civilisations Museum). This statue of Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, is the second only to the Merlion as most popular place in Singapore to take a picture of yourself. Having the skyscrapers and the shophouses of Boat Quay in the background helps to explain why!
- Asian Civilisations Museum at Empress Place, 1 Empress Place, tel. +66 63327798, . One of Singapore's newest, largest and best-presented museums. As the name hints, all of Asia is covered in the scope, although naturally there is an emphasis on the cultures near and in Singapore. Open 9 AM to 7 PM daily. Admission $5, free Friday evenings 6-9 PM.
- Battle Box, Fort Canning Park. The former HQ of the British army during World War 2, now turned into an air-conditioned museum complete with animatronic figures retelling the events of the days before surrender. Adults S$8, open 10am-6pm Tue-Sun. Nearest MRT station Dhoby Ghaut, but it's a steamy hike up the hill.
- Singapore History Museum . Closed for renovations until 2006.
Bumboat sailing past the Esplanade Theatres and the hotels of the Marina District
- Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay. 1 Esplanade Drive (City Hall MRT), . Singapore's equivalent of Sydney's famous Opera House, except that the two-lobed spiky Singaporean version deliberately bears a striking resemblance to the durian, a tropical fruit related to the jackfruit which is notorious for its sharp odour. Opera, dance, classical concerts and similar entertainment is offered daily. Prices for the main entertainment start from 20-30 SGD for poor seats, up to over a hundred SGD for good ones. For the cheap traveller, there are occasionally free productions on the riverfront. More details can be found on fliers around the complex itself, and on the website given above.
- Singapore River. The entire Singapore river area is a lovely place for a walk, with small green gardens, old-style bridges and historical buildings, and the nightlife-rich expanse of Clarke Quay and Boat Quay.
There is little shopping by the riverside, except maybe tourist trinket hawkers near the Merlion. Head north to Orchard Road for shopping instead.
You're spoiled for choice when eating at the river. Prices tend to be slightly inflated by Singaporean standards, so avoid any place that needs to use touts to get customers.
The western end of the river (around Robertson Quay) houses a significant Japanese expat community, and consequently the Japanese restaurants nearby serve up some of the best fare this side of Tokyo.
- Lau Pa Sat. 18 Raffles Quay (near Raffles Place MRT). A nicely done up hawker centre, but unfortunately suffering from a lack of hawkers caused by overly high rents.
- Yong Bak Kut Teh. 233 River Valley Rd (corner of Mohamed Sultan). Well located for late-night snacks, this coffeeshop serves up tasty KL-style dark pork rib soup (bak kut teh). $5.30 for a bowl with rice and you char kway fritters.
- Epicurious. 60 Robertson Quay #01-02, tel. +66 67347720. This lovably quirky cafe-delicatessen is justly renowned for its gourmet breakfasts, featuring not only the usual pancakes and toasts but more offbeat options too. Try the Green Eggs and Ham, with pesto scrambled eggs and prosciutto ($12), and wash it down with freshly squeezed juice ($5). Breakfast until 1 PM on weekends only, lunch and dinner served daily.
- Ichibantei. 60 Robertson Quay #01-13, . Possibly the best of Singapore's many ramen restaurants, this branch of an Osakan restaurant serves up generous portions of authentic Japanese noodles at $8.80 and up. Open 11:30 AM to 11 PM daily.
Skyscrapers and shophouses on Boat Quay
The best places for a splurge with a view in the evening are Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, which have many riverside restaurants offering al fresco dining.
- IndoChine Waterfront. Tel. 6339-1720, . Directly opposite Boat Quay on a terrace outside the Asian Civilisations Museum, IndoChine's newest branch offers excellent modern Vietnamese/Lao/Khmer food and gorgeous views of the river at only moderately high prices (S$20-30 mains). Great place for a date, reservations highly advisable.
- Quayside Seafood Grill. Past Hooters on Clarke Quay. Tel. 6338 0138. One of the better places for Singaporean food on the Quays, open for dinner only.
- Aburiya. 60 Robertson Quay, #01-03 The Quayside, tel. 6735 4862. Japanese-Korean yakiniku grilled meat joint, served with a wide range of side dishes. Expensive (for Singapore), but very tasty for carnivores and the $70 set menus for two are enough to stuff three.
Singapore's nightlife is almost entirely concentrated near the river. The main party zones are:
- Boat Quay on the south of the river next to the financial district (MRT Raffles Place, exit G)
- Clarke Quay on the north bank a few blocks inland (MRT Clarke Quay)
- Mohamed Sultan Rd a few more blocks away on the north side.
All three are within crawling distance of each other. Bars and pubs come and go with dizzying speed, so just head out and find today's hip spot.
Less well known but also worth a look are Circular Road, parallel to Boat Quay just behind it, and Robertson Quay, an up-and-coming nightlife/restaurant zone at the western end of the river.
- Bar 84, Gallery Hotel 2F, 76 Robertson Quay. Better known by locals as the Magic Bar, as you can watch Ginza-trained manager-bartender-magician Hashi-san dazzle and astonish his guests nightly except Sunday. Dim lighting, smooth jazz, and stylish decoration makes this the perfect place of a quiet drink — although beware that, in addition to the $10 cover and $15 drinks, any props used for your amusement will also magically find their way onto your bill.
- Eski Bar, 46 Circular Rd (behind Boat Quay), . If the tropical heat starts to get to you, pop into the coolest place in town — a steady -6°C, to be precise, although the chill-out area is a comparatively toasty 18°C. Try the grapefruity Eski Blue or coconut sweet Sleeping Polar Bear (S$15 each). Open 5 PM to 1 AM (or later) daily.
- Harry's Bar, 28 Boat Quay, . The favorite watering hole of Nick Leeson, the "Rogue Trader" who brought down Barings Bank and was once arrested here for indecent exposure. Try the Bank Breaker, an unlikely mix of whisky and Midori. Live music most nights.
- Nihonshu, 33 Mohamed Sultan Road, tel. +66 68870282. This sleek yet understated bar is devoted to the Japanese rice wine sake, with over 100 labels on offer — most only by the bottle, but there is fair range to sample by the glass or decanter as well ($6-15) and a wide range of Japanese nibbles ($4-10) to go along with them. Open 6 PM-midnight or later daily except Sunday.
At all clubs listed below, arrive early (or late) because otherwise you may be stuck in line for a while. ID is theoretically required but rarely checked.
- Dbl O. Mohamed Sultan Rd. One of Singapore's most popular clubs, at least in part because there's no cover charge and once you get in house pours are only S$3 a glass. Forking out S$15 for cover will let you skip the queue and get into Bar O downstairs, which follows the same pricing policy.
- Home, #B1-01/06 Riverwalk, 20 Upper Circular Rd, . Opened in June 2005, this nightclub decorated with a strange mix of modern and retro attempts to plug the gap between Boat Quay and Clarke Quay. Drinks S$12, 1-for-1 happy hour between 6 and 9 PM.
- Jazz@Southbridge. 82B Boat Quay, tel. 6327 4671, . Small and intimate, generally judged the best of Singapore's (few) jazz joints. Two-drink minimum on weekends, open daily except Monday.
- Liquid Room. Gallery Hotel 1F, 76 Robertson Quay, . A small, dark club catering primarily to fans of harder dance music. There is no cover charge and the place is often jam-packed on weekends.
- Zouk. 17 Jiak Kim St, . Singapore's best-known nightclub and in fact a complex of 4 spaces: Zouk itself for harder dance music, Velvet Underground for loungier stuff, Phuture for experimental edge and the outside Wine Bar for chilling out. A full-entry ticket will set you back a rather pricey S$35, but two drinks are included and the place is happening especially when foreign DJs are in town — which is more often than not! Note: Zouk will be temporarily closed for renovation starting September 2005.
There is a large cluster of older mid-range hotels on and near Havelock Rd at the western end of river, not the best location for sightseeing or shopping. SBS bus 51 from Havelock Rd offers a good escape route to Chinatown, Clarke Quay and Orchard. Note that in the center, the bus goes north up Eu Tong Sen Rd/Hill St, but returns south via North/South Bridge Rd.
- Copthorne King's, 403 Havelock Road, tel. +65-6733-0011, . The former King's Hotel, given a thorough renovation when taken over by the Copthorne group and now looks (almost) brand new. The primary downside is the somewhat inconvenient location near the west end of the river, although Mohammed Sultan is within striking distance. Weekend rates from S$110+++.
- Holiday Inn Atrium, 317 Outram Road, tel. +65-67330188, . Formerly the Concorde Hotel, the 30-floor inner atrium is indeed impressive, but little else about this brown toilet roll of a hotel is. As of 2005, the hotel is undergoing some much-needed refurbishment, meaning cheap rates and random construction noises.
- Gallery Hotel, 76 Robertson Quay, tel. +65-6849-8686, . If you've ever wanted to spend the night in an IKEA showroom, this self-proclaimed Highly Individual Property is the place for you. No paintings hanging on the wall here, the name refers to the hotel's own style, all steel, glass, austere modern furniture and breakage-prone fancy electronics. Well located for visits to the 4 bars/clubs on premises and nightspots on Mohammed Sultan, but you'll be taking a taxi anywhere else. Bonus points for free Internet and Singapore's funkiest pool/human aquarium. Rooms from S$138.
- Fullerton Hotel, . In the magnificent refurbished former Central Post Office, this is Raffles' closest competitor (in price as well) with an excellent central seaside location.