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.
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 bustling hotbed of excitement, home to tours, wellness activities and eclectic eateries spread across Robertson Quay, Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.
Wellness and a wealth of activities
Formerly a beloved stomping ground for bar-hopping travellers, the neighbourhood has evolved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but still boasts a host of exciting activities.
Zouk—The granddaddy of night clubs in Singapore—now offers a range of activities like high-intensity spin classes and Zouk Cinema Club, a pop-up cinema that takes place on Friday and Saturday evenings.
For a bout of mind-body wellness, consider visiting Club Yoga at Hong Kong Street, which offers a whole range of yoga classes for beginners and veteran practitioners alike. Put your dexterity to the test with an aerial yoga class, or work up a sweat with a power flow session.
Alternatively, fitness enthusiasts with a love for history should sign up for Let’s Go Bike Singapore’s Historical Singapore Tour. This four-hour long tour will take you on a journey along the Singapore River and into other neighbouring districts like Chinatown, Kampong Gelam and the Civic District. Besides working up a sweat, participants will be regaled with scintillating insights about landmarks like the statues of Sir Stamford Raffles and the century-old Central Fire Station.
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 My Little Spanish Place— which boasts a menu of tapas-style dishes and European classics—and Violet Oon Satay and Bar, which sells a variety of locally-inspired tipples and Peranakan* fare.
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 enjoy Korean barbeque at Ju Shin Jung.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.