Singapore River Explorer Boat Tours
The River Explorer is the latest addition to Singapore’s bustling waterways. Launched on January 1 2013, the River Explorer travels further up river than any tour boats or water taxis have been permitted to in the past.
The importance of the Singapore River in terms of the development of the country cannot be understated. Its necessity during Singapore’s pre-history as a fishing village is obvious, but once Sir Stamford Raffles sailed up it in 1819 it became the epicentre of trade and industry in Singapore. It was from this time, and this river, that Singapore became one of the most important trading posts in South East Asia and started the transformation into what stands today. The Singapore River stayed as a working river for well over 100 years; this led to its environmental decline so in the 1970s a massive clean-up plan was proposed. The enormous task was completed ten years later, and the river started its new life, evolving into the tourist attraction it is today. Since the building of the Marina Barrage in 2008, the Singapore River no longer flows into the sea, as the barrage has dammed the entrance to Marina Bay thus creating a new freshwater reservoir. So the importance of the Singapore River continues, with its waters supplying drinking water to the more than 5 million people that live in Singapore.
The Singapore River is approximately 3 kilometres long, from its source at Kim Seng Bridge to its mouth next to the Esplanade Theatre at Marina Bay. For the first time, you’ll be able to take a boat all the way from mouth to source and back again.
So What’s The Best Way To experience The Whole Singapore River?
The first option and a must for anyone visiting Singapore is the Boat Tour. At only $18 for adults and $9 for children and with boats leaving every half an hour between 9AM and 10.30PM, the tour is convenient as well as informative. For 40 minutes you will experience one / some of the best organized tours in the world packed with ton of history of the Singapore river and the historic buildings that stand along the shore. Tours are primarily given in English but Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Bahasa Indonesia, Thai and Vietnamese are also available when booking in advance.
The second opinion is the Bubble Jet. More of a water bus than a water taxi, during peak hour periods there will be a pick-up every 10 minutes from one of the 13 embarkation points. Getting on the Bubble Jet at the Marina Barrage will take you to some of the following destinations:
The Singapore Flyer – a giant Ferris wheel in Singapore. Described by its operators as an observation wheel, it opened in 2008, construction having taken about 2½ years. It carried its first paying passengers on 11 February, opened to the public on 1 March, and was officially opened on 15 April. It has 28 air-conditioned capsules, each able to accommodate 28 passengers, and incorporates a three-storey terminal building
Marina Bay Sands – an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. Developed by Las Vegas Sands (LVS), it is the world’s second most expensive building, at US$ 5.5 billion, including the cost of the prime land.
Marina Bay Sands is situated on 15.5 hectares of land with the gross floor area of 581,000 square metres. The resort opened on 27 April 2010. The property has a hotel, convention and exhibition facilities, theatres, entertainment venues, retailers and restaurants.
The ArtScience Museum – one of the attractions at Marina Bay Sands, an integrated resort in Singapore owned by the US Las Vegas Sands company. Opened on 17 February 2011 by Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, it is the world’s first ArtScience museum.
Although it has a permanent exhibition, ArtScience Gallery, the ArtScience Museum mainly hosts touring exhibitions curated by other museums.
Marina Bay financial centre – a mixed-use development located along Marina Boulevard and Central Boulevard at Marina Bay, Singapore. It consists of three office towers, two residential towers and retail space at Marina Bay Link Mall, occupying a 3.55 hectare site.
Fullerton Bay Hotel – Super-centrally located in Singapore’s business and cultural district, The Fullerton Bay Hotel is a must for luxe lounging, offering elegant rooms, fine dining and boho Lantern rooftop bar and pool, all with bayside views to die for. Boasting swish public areas designed by rising talent Andre Fu and bedrooms that doff their cap to the Lion City’s colonial and pan-Asian roots, a stay here guarantees modern glamour.
Merlion Park – You’ve probably seen images of Singapore’s national icon, the mythical Merlion with the head of a lion and the body of a fish.
A fishy tale
The body symbolises Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, meaning ‘sea town’ in Old Javanese.
Its head represents Singapore’s original name, Singapura, or ‘lion city’ in Malay.
Today, you can glimpse this legend at Merlion Park. Spouting water from its mouth, the Merlion statue stands tall at 8.6 metres and weighs 70 tonnes.
This icon is a ‘must-see’ for tourists visiting Singapore, similar to other significant landmarks around the world.
Built by local craftsman Lim Nang Seng, it was unveiled on 15 September 1972 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the mouth of the Singapore River, to welcome all visitors to Singapore.
Central Business District – Located between the Singapore River, Marina Bay and Chinatown, the Central Business District, commonly referred to as “the city” or CBD, is the centre of all commercial and financial activities. Some of the most prestigious companies, both local and international, have their offices in this densely built area.
Here you find the impressive skyscrapers that are part of Singapore’s beautiful skyline and the backdrop for dazzling attractions of theMarina Bay. The scenery gets especially dramatic during the evening hours when the sun sets directly behind the CBD. The best photos are taken during this time from either the Esplanade or The Shoppes, allowing you to capture the entire panoramic view.
Raffles Landing – location where tradition holds that Sir Stamford Raffles landed in on 29 January 1819. The site is located at Boat Quay within the Civic District, in the Downtown Core of the Central Area, Singapore’s central business district.
Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall – The grand dames of Singapore’s performing arts scene, home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), didn’t start off as a purpose-built theatre. Instead, it was completed in 1862 as a Town Hall with a theatre, but became too small for either function.
In 1901, it was decided that a memorial hall was to be built to commemorate Queen Victoria, who passed away in January that year, and that the Town Hall would be incorporated into the design of the memorial hall. The Victoria Memorial Hall was built next to the Town Hall, the facades were unified in the Palladian architectural style and a clock tower erected to join the two buildings together. The Town Hall was renamed Victoria Theatre. Today, it stands as an iconic landmark in Singapore’s city centre.
Asian Civilisations Museum – located at the historic Empress Place Building, was opened on 1 March 2003. The museum presents the history and culture of Singapore’s ancestral cultures, with artefacts that span the entire Asian continent and over five thousand years of recorded history.
The Arts House at the Old Parliament – now known as the Arts House at the Old Parliament building, is a building in Singapore. It is currently a multi-disciplinary arts venue which plays host to art exhibitions and concerts. The building was formerly home to the Parliament of Singapore from 1965 to 1999, when it moved to an adjacent new building. Built in 1827, the Old Parliament House is the oldest existing government building in Singapore.
Esplanade Park, Supreme Court – the former courthouse of the Supreme Court of Singapore, before it moved out of the building and commenced operations in the new building on 20 June 2005. The building was the last structure in the style ofclassical architecture to be built in the former British colony. It is planned to become an arts and cultural centre in future, with plans to refurbish the building.
Funan Digital Mall – Funan Digitalife Mall is one of the best places in Singapore to go to, for all things computer and tech-related. Found in the City Hall area between Victoria Street and North Bridge Road, it positions itself as Asia’s leading IT shopping mall – with people coming from afar to have a browse through all of its specialty digital shops.
A haven for techology geeks, Funan offers the newest and widest range of gadgets, from laptops and desktop computers to printers and digital cameras. One of the best things about the mall is the various deals that you’ll find here, with outlets selling value-for-money products at competitive prices.
Swissotel Merchant Court – Swissotel Merchant Court, Singapore is a luxury hotel ideally located by Clarke Quay, within walking distance of the financial hub of Raffles Place, and close to major places of interest including Orchard Road, Chinatown and the numerous bars and restaurants on the famous Clarke Quay and Boat Quay.
Chinatown – an ethnic neighbourhood featuring distinctly Chinese cultural elements and a historically concentratedethnic Chinese population. Chinatown is located within the larger district of Outram.
Fort Canning – Fort Canning is a small hill slightly more than 60 metres high in the southeast portion of the island city-state of Singapore, within the Central Area that forms Singapore’s central business district.
Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay – located between the Central Business District (CBD) and the prime shopping area of Orchard Road. We are surrounded by the vibrant and dynamic entertainment hub of Clarke Quay. A short walk across the pedestrian bridge takes hotel guests to the nearest Mass Rapid Transit (Clarke Quay MRT) and CENTRAL shopping mall.
Nestled along the banks of the historical Singapore River, Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay offers a heady blend of history and hip – making it a great hotel in Clarke Quay Singapore.
Gallery Hotel – Gallery Hotel is a four-star boutique hotel at Robertson Quay on Singapore River, in the Central Area of Singapore. Originally known as Gallery Evason Hotel, it is the first “HIP” hotel in Singapore, and the second in Asia, the first being in Japan.
Studio M Hotel – Studio M Hotel Singapore exudes avant-garde style and class in its offer of a great business stay or leisure getaway in the iconic entertainment precinct of Robertson Quay. Designed by Italian style maestro and architect, Piero Lissoni, it is the first fully loft-inspired Singapore hotel that also occupies a prime location in the city, within easy reach of Chinatown, the Central Business District and the world famous Orchard Road.
Clarke Quay – Clarke Quay is a historical riverside quay in Singapore, located within the Singapore River Planning Area. The quay is situated upstream from the mouth of the Singapore River and Boat Quay
Zouk, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel –
Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium Hotel –
Furama Riverfront Hotel –
Copthorne King’s Hotel and the end of the line –
Great World City – Great World City is a 6-storey shopping mall, 18-storey office building and 35-storey serviced apartment building complex on Singapore River in Central Area of Singapore.
All these locations are a very short distance from each embarkation point and as you can see by the amount of hotels located on the list, it’s perfect for visitors to check out the local sites or simply just to get from A to B. The final stop is the mall and cinema Great World City. This is also the source of the Singapore River. Although it looks like it keeps going, this is actually Alexander Canal, which extends westward from the original source of the Singapore River.
Go for the history and the sites or to simply visit the any number of bars, clubs and restaurants that line the banks, exploring the Singapore River is essential for any visitor to the country.
Overall, talk about Southeast Asia, and Singapore often takes away the crown for being the ultimate holiday destination. A to-do list never ends in Singapore, as it’s a modern destination with its intact traditions coupled with today’s state-of-the-art infrastructure, beautiful locales and plentiful attractions.
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