In the past, there were three main quays along the Singapore River: Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, and Robertson Quay. Major elements of the Port of Singapore, the quays were busy and bustling places that saw almost continuous activity. Integral to the country’s success as a port, the quays had many warehouses and storage areas, and numerous shop houses sprung up around the quays.
In the past, bumboats lined the edges of the river, workers toiling hard to carry sacks of considerable weight.
Whilst the quays may no longer be used like they were in the days of old, they are still lively places in Singapore. With many renovations, refurbishments, and alterations, lots of the old buildings are in use as other things. Shops, restaurants, bars, accommodation … the transformation of the historical quays has added much to Singapore’s dining, entertainment, leisure, commercial, and nightlife scenes.
Within close proximity of the CBD, the establishments at the quays are particularly popular with people grabbing a few drinks or a bite to eat at the end of a busy working day. Lively during the week, they ramp it up even more at the weekends, with Singaporeans, expats, and tourists alike keen to have a fun time. Indeed, the quays offer some of the best outdoor entertainment and dining in all of Singapore.
In front of the financial and banking parts of the city, Boat Quay has many excellent restaurants, bars, and shops in old converted shop houses. Atmospheric as well as fun, it is a terrific place to pass a pleasant and chilled out evening with friends, enjoying delicious food and refreshing drinks.
If you find yourself wondering why the traditional shop houses are on just the one side of the river, wonder no more! It is said that early Chinese immigrants chose just the south of the river because of the bell-shaped layout thought to look like part of a carp fish – they believed that this represented success and prosperity.
One of Singapore’s most pulsating places for nightlife, the former warehouses of Clarke Quay now contain many excellent night clubs, restaurants, and more.
Named after a former Singapore governor, Sir Andrew Clarke, clamber aboard one of the moored junks (boats) that bob on the spot and house floating bars and eateries. As well as providing a little peek into the past, these floating establishments also offer terrific views of the river. If you want to see even more, Clarke Quay is also a top spot for catching a river cruise.
When it comes to nightclubs, Clarke Quay offers something for everyone. Musical diversity means that you are sure to find somewhere that you love. Whether you want to dance the night away to the latest pop tunes, lose yourself in the sounds of dance, trance, and electronic music, chill out to jazz and Latin sounds, get down with some hip hop, listen to rock, enjoy listening to a variety of bands and live music, or something else, Clarke Quay offers so much!
Robertson Quay offers a laid-back ambience, a great place to start the day with a relaxing morning coffee, or unwind at the end of day over a glass of wine or beer.
You’ll notice that the historic wharfs and warehouses combine traditional Chinese styles with European elements. Today a major urban area, you’ll find restaurants, shops, bars, and more for your complete entertainment and leisure. Wander along Robertson Walk and indulge in a little retail therapy, or pull up a seat in one of the al fresco cafes and soak up the atmosphere and views.