Diners at a restaurant along the Singapore River

From its origins as a fishing village known as Temasek, to its role as a trading port under the British Empire, the Lion City’s history has been inseparable from that of the Singapore River.

It was at the river’s mouth that Sir Stamford Raffles—the founder of modern Singapore—first stepped onto the island, and where prince Sang Nila Utama saw the mythical lion after which our city is named.

Aerial view of the skyline of the Singapore River

Photo by Edward Tian

During the colonial era, the Singapore River became a flourishing hub of commerce, with dock hands toiling along its dusty banks, and flotillas of boats docked along its three quays.

These days, the Singapore River is a beloved nightlife district and tourist hotspot, with buzzing bars, eclectic eateries and iconic clubs spread across Robertson Quay, Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.

The rhythm of the night

A much-beloved stomping ground for bar-hopping travellers, cocktail connoisseurs and local party-goers, the neighbourhood boasts a range of buzzing bars, pubs and clubs.

Rock the stage at live music bar Crazy Elephant or experience childhood nostalgia at Level Up. Decked out in neon-themed décor, the latter is a concept bar that pays homage to the golden age of video game arcades.

For a world-class clubbing experience, pay a visit to Zouk. This legendary night club has been around for close to three decades, garnered numerous accolades, and has played host to a legion of internationally acclaimed DJs.

Alternatively, lovers of underground beats and experimental tunes can pay a visit to Headquarters, while those looking for both music and merriment should party on at Canvas, which regularly features live comedy nights alongside an eclectic range of tunes.

Riverside restaurants and global dining

To expand your culinary horizons, take a stroll down the Singapore River, and experience flavours from all over the globe.

Take a jaunt back to 19th-century Singapore with a visit to Tongkang River Boat Dining. This experiential restaurant is housed aboard Singapore’s last surviving tongkangs (light wooden trade boats), and specialises in Western cuisine.

Other dining establishments along the river include Tomo Izakaya—which boasts a menu of diverse Japanese small dishes—and Wings Bar, a 1940s aviation-themed eatery.

While quieter than Clarke Quay and Boat Quay, Robertson Quay’s laid-back charm and host of stellar dining spots makes it the perfect spot for the discerning gourmand. Feast on tacos at casual Mexican eatery Super Loco, indulge in sumiyaki (charcoal-roasted meats) at Shunjuu Izakaya, and partake in Korean barbeque at Ju Shin Jung.