For tourist who comes on their own, they should use the visit to Merlion to start-off their Singapore city tour. Around Merlion Park are many Singapore attractions, they are those must-see places for tourists, and best of all, they are free- no admission tickets is needed.
But do not misunderstood that just because it’s free, it must be lousy places. Just ask the locals, or just check with your tour agencies, these places are listed as compulsory itinerary in the city tour of Singapore, what they didn’t tell you is you could visit them yourself without a guide and without paying anything except transportation, which cost less than S$5 to and from your hotel if you travel by MRT (Mass Rapid Transit).
These popular tourists attractions are all within walking distance from the Merlion Park. Therefore a visit to Merlion Park is a city tour of Singapore, for those who has little time in Singapore, this itinerary should be a delight.
1. Merlion – the lion with a fish body
Merlion is probably Singapore’s most celebrated tourism icon, over the years, it is well known by tourist all over the world that it is likened to the famous Eiffel Tower of Paris, Statue of Liberty in America etc.The Merlion
Merlion is certainly Singapore must-see attractions. In fact, all countries, regardless of size has its own iconic tourism symbol, I find that it is a must for tourists to go take a look and learnt something from it.
Merlion is actually an imaginary creature of a lion with a fish body ,where ‘mer ‘ means sea. It’s a representation of Singapore’s beginnings as a small fishing village. The lion head represents Singapore’s original name, Singapura, when a prince who came to this fishing village in 11 AD got so fascinated with a lion he saw that he named it Singapura, or Lion City.
Vistors often neglected the other little Merlion located at the entrance of the Park.
Thereafter the visit, complete the tour with a Merlion’s souvenir and be pictured with it.
The nearest MRT station to Merlion is Esplanade Station, take a 10 minutes walk, and there you are at the Merlion Park.
2. Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort with hotels, entertainments, retail, theatres, casino, convention hall and exhibition rooms, all into one. Since it’s opening in 2010, it has stolen some of the limelight previously enjoy solely by the Merlion.
For tourists who is not visiting the place, a photo with it probably could offer some consolation. Get the pictures of both Merlion and Marine Bay Sands in a single shot.
Who could ignore or forget the iconic alien spaceship-like architectural design at the top of the hotel? Singapore’s skyline has never been the same since. Since then, the unique design has inspired many look alike structure around the world. The place has since become a must-see Singapore attractions, it WOW ( attracted) every visitors who first sees it.
3. Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore
Minutes away from the Merlion Park is another iconic structure, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. It was built to be a showcase for arts performance, and had since held many world renowned shows.
But what catches visitors eye again is its unique roof. Some says it looks like durian, a local delight tropical fruit, whatever it is , like the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands, it has become a photography spot.
Even the spikes makes me feel giddy looking at it too long.
From the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, you could proceed further to The Singapore Flyer or through the beautiful walkway to Garden By the Bay.
But, I would want to hold you back here to make a U-turn to meet the Founding Father Of Singapore.
4. Sir Stamford Raffles
Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles ( 1781-1826) was a British statesman. He is highly regarded as the Father of Singapore. It was him who found the unknown small fishing village in 1819, then known as Singapura. His visionary leadership enable him to see the geographically and strategically well located fishing village in world commerce and went on to secure the island from the Sultan Of Johore, who owns the island then.
In visiting Singapore, I certainly think a visitor needs see 3 things before departure. The first is The Merlion, the 2nd is the founding father of Modern Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles and the 3rd is Resort World Sentosa.
The recognition by The British Empire attracted large numbers of immigrants into Singapore, business quickly flourished and turned the fishing village into one of the most successful trading post for the British Empire.
The statue of Sir Stamford Raffles is located at Empress Place, a 10 minutes walk from Raffles Place MRT station.
Today, the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles stands at the front of Victoria Concert Hall, another arts performing centre.
If you continue your walk along the river, there is another site which was said to be the place where Raffles first landed when he came to Singapore.
5. Lim Bo Seng War Memorial
Steps away from the statue of Raffles at Victoria Concert Hall located a war hero of Singapore, Lim Bo Seng.
Lim Bo Seng ( 1909 -1944 ) was a war hero of Singapore. Before the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, Lim, a businessman, had organized countless boycott activities against the Japanese goods and various fund-raising activities to help China in its war effort against the Japanese in the late 1930’s. During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, Lim Bo Seng was one of the leader of Force 136, an anti-Japanese resistance fighters. Unfortunately, during one of the movements he was betrayed and arrested by the Japanese. Despite being tortured severely, Lim Bo Seng had refused insistently to divulge the identity and whereabout of his comrades. He fell ill in jail and eventually died in early 1944 months before the Japanese Occupation ended in 1945, when the Japanese surrendered to the American and its Allied after the dropped of 2 Atomic Bombs.
After the war Lim Bo Seng remains was reburied near Singapore MacRitchie Reservior with military honours. In 1954, to commemorate the sacrifices he had made for the country, the Lim Bo Seng Memorial was built at the Esplanade, by the side of Singapore River.
6. Raffles Place – Singapore Business District
Raffles Place, located at the central area of Singapore is Singapore’s main business centre. The place is mushroomed with tall commercial buildings, including world’s notable banks and offices.
The ever quick walking pace of the working class would make one feel the exciting pulse of Singapore’s vibrant economy. Be there Monday to Friday during the peak hours of 9am, 1 pm or 6 pm, if you want to ‘feel’ the pulse of the island’s economy.
Most importantly, for tourist, Raffles Place is ideal place to get your walking tour started, for most of the city renowned buildings and tourist attractions are located within walking distance from Raffles Place. So if you do not want to start your Singapore River walking tour from Esplanade MRT station, you may do so at Raffles Place MRT station.
7. Singapore River Cruise
By now you are probably as tired as me having walked to so many attractions. Alright, since we are steps away from Singapore River, perhaps we should take a cruise ride to rest our legs.
The Singapore River Cruise takes about 30 minutes, there are few stops along the river , starting from Clarke Quay to Esplanade, anytime you could hop-in or hop-out when you see any interesting thing on the river side.
While you are on the cruise, enjoy the scenic ride, but be known that you are on a historical trip of almost 200 years.
If you did not take the cruise, but opted to walk along the Singapore River, there are much activities along. Well, you could be lucky to catch some local or international TV stars doing their filming. The River is a favourite spot for these film makers.
And along the river, you could enjoy a bite of ice-cream to wipe away the simmering heat of Singapore.
8. Singapore River
Singapore River is an approximate 2 km long river at the heart of Singapore Business District. Upon the founding of Singapore in 1819, large numbers of immigrants arrived by boats at the Singapore River. Commerical and financial buildings started to flourish along the river too.
It must be noted that prior to 1819, the main centre of trading port was concentrated at Malacca Malaysia for almost 400 years. After the founding of Singapore in 1819, traders started shifting their trade route to the geographically more convenience and strategically located Singapore and Malacca gradually lost its trading centre status.
Along the river comes the famous Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, where hundreds of pubs, bars and eateries alight the colourful night-life of Singapore.
Asian Civilisations Museum is just beside the river.
9. Boat Quay
Boat Quay is situated along the Singapore River. The area was transformed dramatically into one of the busiest port of Singapore after the founding of Singapore in 1819. It was the place where most commercial activities took place, along with the neighbouring upstream Clarke Quay.
Today, both Boat Quay and Clarke Quay is very much a tourist’s attractions. The many pre-war shophouses and warehouses along the Singapore River are being cleverly conserved, replacing the yesterday’s commercial activities are restaurants, pubs and bars.
In the day, Boat Quay is very much quieter, except during noon when the office executives from the nearby Raffles Place comes for their meal. After sunset, the place comes alive colourfully with groups of tourists and locals shouting their hearts out at the pubs and bars.
Tourist who wants a glimpse of Singapore’s night life should start the walk along the Singapore River. Be surprised at the variety of international food on offer here, such as Thai, Korean and Japanese.
10. Clarke Quay
Clarke Quay is a historical site located at the upstream of Singapore River, less than 10 minutes walk from Boat Quay, in fact the 2 nightspots are side by side of each. Since the redevelopment in 1980’s, the place has become a Singapore attractions, where thousands of tourists are attracted to it by day and night.
Clarke Quay is a favourite clubbing hub not just for tourists, but local as well. Anyone who wants a glimpse of Singapore’s night life just has to start the night at Clarke quay.
Singapore’s night life begins at Clarke quay. In the day, like Boat Quay, the place is very much quieter, but comes 7 pm and after, the place is dramatically transformed into a big wonderland. Bars, hip cafes, jazz clubs and restaurants are packed with drinkers and merry-goers ,everyone seems to have something to celebrate. It offers one thing which Boat Quay do not, that’s LIVE band.
Besides having a big concentration of restaurants and pubs, a shopping mall is just beside the river. Lots of boutique shops, souvenir shops and there are even shops which retail antiques. Generally, for anyone who prefers a fine dinning experience in a quieter environment, I would suggest Boat Quay.
Welcome to Singapore !