Since Sir Stamford Raffles first landed in Singapore in 1819, the Singapore River has been the beating heart of the island. Like the nation, it’s changed with the times. The traditional “bumboats” that ply the river now carry more tourists than they do provisions, while its quays are home to bars, restaurants, hotels, galleries, and more. Here are some ways to explore Singapore’s quays.
The first of the three quays upriver from Marina Bay, Boat Quay was once Singapore’s commercial center—and it stayed in use right up until the 1960s. Today, the brightly colored shophouses once home to Chinese merchants house a vibrant dining and drinking scene that competes with Clarke Quay upriver.
The converted warehouses and shophouses of Clarke Quay, the second of the Singapore River quays you encounter as you cruise inland, have made it a nightlife mecca for visitors (and expatriates) since the early 21st century. Between clubs, bars, pubs, restaurants, and the odd fun boutique, good times are pretty much guaranteed.
The most low-key of the Singapore River quays, Robertson Quay has a more modern and high-end feel than either Clarke Quay or Boat Quay—there’s even an InterContinental hotel here. Besides eating and drinking, the quay offers attractions including the Singapore Tyler Print Institute gallery. The Hong San See Temple stands on a small hill behind the quay.