DINE OUT ON A LITTLE HISTORY AT RIVERSIDE

By LINDA JAMES | Updated June 13, 2023 | AREA GUIDES

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The Riverside area is one of the key places to visit for historical and cultural sites along with the nearby Civic District. It’s north of the old mouth – and either side – of the Singapore River and features 3 key areas: Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Robertson Quay, all of which are popular for drinking, dining and clubbing.

Getting There

The area has a number of MRT stations depending on where exactly you want to go. On the eastern side of the river, there’s Raffles Place MRT (NS26/EW14) and Clarke Quay MRT station (NE5). On the western side, you could go to City Hall (EW13).

There are also many buses such as the 14, 16, 36, 124, 167, 174, 190.

What to See & Do

Asian Civilisation Museum

This neoclassical building – named the Empress after Queen Victoria when it was completed in 1865 – is now home to Singapore’s national museum of Asian antiquities and decorative art. It focuses on displaying Asia’s artistic heritage from the Islamic West Asia through to China through the collections displayed in its permanent galleries as well as a range of temporary exhibitions.

Address: Empress Place
Open: daily 10am-7pm, Fridays 10am-9pm
Cost: permanent galleries are free for Singaporeans; $S20 for non-residents, children 6yrs and under free. Prices vary for special exhibitions.
Getting there: near Raffles Place MRT station
More information: https://www.nhb.gov.sg/acm/

Cavenagh Bridge

This is one of the oldest bridges in Singapore – it was built in 1869 – and the only suspension bridge. Make sure you check out the police notice at either end restricting vehicles (and cattle and horses) that weighed more than 152kg.

The bridge is a convenient link for pedestrians to get from the north bank’s cultural district to the south bank of the Singapore River and the Merlion statue. If you go this way, you should visit historic Fullerton Hotel, which is next to it.

Address: 1 Fullerton Sq
Open: 24 hours
Cost: Free
Getting there: near Raffles Place MRT (EW14/NS26), 5 min walk; buses – 100,131,75
More information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavenagh_Bridge

Comedy Masala at Hero’s bar

The comedy shows here are hosted by Comedy Masala founder Umar Ranaevery and feature a range of comedians both local and international.

Address: 69 Circular Rd
Open: Tuesday at 8pm
Cost: $S25, discounted if bought online (dinner & drinks additional)
Getting there: near Raffles Place and Clarke Quay MRT stations
More information: http://comedymasala.com/

Homage to Newton by Salvador Dali

This 1985 bronze figure in Raffles Place pays homage to Newton’s gravity theory and has an open torso with a heart suspended in it to indicate “open-heartedness”. The head of the figure is open to represent an “open-mind”.

Address: UOB Plaza outdoor, Chulia St 
Open: 24 hours
Cost: free
Getting there: near Raffles Place MRT (EW14/NS26), 3 min walk; buses – 10,100,57,655,970

Lim Bo Seng Memorial

Major-General Lim Bo Seng was one of Singapore’s many war heroes during World War II. He led many anti-Japanese activities and raised funds to support the war effort in China and the creation of an intelligence network in Malaya.

Sadly, he died in Batu Gajah Jail on June 29, 1944, after being captured and tortured by the Japanese secret police. He was then buried by the British with full military honours at MacRitchie Reservoir, where his grave is still today. He was awarded the rank of Major-General posthumously by the Chinese Nationalist Government.

The 3.6m-high octagonal pagoda is made of bronze, concrete and marble in the Chinese National Style and has a three-tiered bronze roof with four bronze lions at the base. There are four bronze plaques that chronicle Lim’s life in English, Chinese, Tamil and Malay.

Address: Esplanade Park, Connaught Drive
Open: 24 hours
Cost: free
Getting there: near Fullerton Jetty, 5 min walk, Raffles Place Jetty, 6 min walk; buses: 10,100,131,75
More information: https://www.roots.gov.sg/stories-landing/stories/lim-bo-seng/story

Raffles Landing

Supposedly where Sir Stamford Raffles landed on 28 January, 1819. There’s a statue of him on the north bank of the Singapore River with a plaque that credits him with changing Singapore’s destiny from a fishing village to a modern metropolis.

Address: 1 Old Parliament Ln
Open: 24 hours
Cost: free
Getting there: near Raffles Place MRT (EW14/NS26), 8 min walk; Raffles Landing Site Jetty, 1-min walk, Fullerton Jetty, 5-min walk, Raffles Place Jetty, 6-min walk; buses - 10,147,197,61,75,80,961
More information: https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_131_2005-01-03.html

Singapore River Bumboat Cruise

Take a ride on a bumboat (tongkangs or sea-going barges) to get a different view of the Riverside and Marina Bay neighbourhoods. You’ll also be able to take some great pics of key attractions such as the ArtScience Museum, the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Merlion Park.

Do the 40-minute ride late in the afternoon or early evening and you’ll also get to the sunset and night lights thrown in.

You can also get a bumboat that specifically takes in the Spectra Laser and Light show.

Address: Clarke Quay Jetty Ticket counter, 3E River Valley Rd 
Open: 9am to 11pm
Cost: $S25 for adults and $S15 for children 3-12
Getting there: near Clarke Quay MRT (NE5), about 5 mins walk, Fort Canning Station (NE5) about 5 mins walk, City Hall MRT (NS25/EW13) about 10 mins walk; buses – 143,147,197,33,54,61

Shopping

The five floors of Clarke Quay Central offer designer brands but also excellent views of the river especially when the River Festival is on between August and September.

Address: 6 Eu Tong Sen St
Open: daily 11am-10pm
Getting there: near Clarke Quay MRT station 
More information: www.fareastmalls.com.sg/Clarke-Quay-Central

The Projector

Arthouse films are the focus at this independent cinema where patrons can sip cocktails and eat popcorn while listening with their bluetooth headphones.

Address: 30 Merchant Road, #04-13
Open: Wednesday to Sunday
Cost: start from $S18.50 
Getting there: near Clarke Quay MRT station 
More information: https://theprojector.sg/

Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall

Beautifully restored to its original neo-classical 1905 structure, this building is now home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. However, one of the fun things to do here is climb the 54m Clock Tower and learn about how its 5 bells work. The trek to the top is made sweeter by the expansive views of Singapore from the top.

Get in early though, the tours book out very quickly.

Address: 11 Empress Pl #01-02
Open: daily 10am-9pm
Cost: the clock tower climb is $S30 for 18yrs and above
Getting there: near City Hall and Raffles Place MRT stations
More information: www.vtvch.com

Where to Stay

Luxury

The Fullerton Bay Hotel

Just steps from the historic Cavenagh Bridge, Raffles Landing, the National Gallery, the new and old parliament buildings and Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, this hotel is also within walking distance of Marina Bay and the Gardens by the Bay.

Built in 1928, it was originally the General Post Office, a social club and government departments, which guests can find out about in the lobby’s Fullerton Heritage Gallery.

There’s a rooftop infinity pool and bar with impressive views of the city, river and Marina Bay as well as five restaurants.

Most of the 400 rooms have courtyards or balconies with waterside or skyline views.

Price: Double rooms from $S409.
Address: 1 Fullerton Square 
Getting there: Raffles Place MRT station is a 5-minute walk 
More information: www.fullertonhotels.com

Conclusion

The Riverside area is popular with tourists and locals alike. Made up of 3 main areas: Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson key, it’s the place to go for drinking, dining and clubbing and also has some important historical sights as well.

More area guides

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Want more of Singapore?

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