Eat, Shop and Party at Clarke Quay
Answers to the always asked question “What is there to do in Singapore?”, would invariably be – shop at Orchard Road, visit the Night Safari, or party down at Clarke Quay. A long time ago, that third answer would be met with quizzical looks amongst Singaporeans.
In the early days, Clarke Quay was simply known as a bustling trade hub. Instead of the place for the young and beautiful, a more familiar scene was sun-tanned coolies loading and unloading a plethora of produce and shipments. It was a prime location for trading between the east and west, and the place flourished as the commercial cornerstone of Singapore.
Thanks to recent renovation, the bustling trade center that is Clarke Quay has successfully evolved into one of Singapore’s hottest entertainment spot, popular with the hip, trendy and luxurious. Here’s a breakdown of this nightlife hub of Singapore along with its neighboring districts.
Charming China Town
Start your adventures at ChinaTown, a cultural hotspot filled with history of Singapore’s forefathers and their trading culture. Pay a visit to the Chinatown Heritage Center, or look out for souvenirs along the Chinatown Night Market. The place is certainly touristy, but that’s part of the price to pay for modernization and globalization.
Fret not though, the food is genuine and traditional, some of the best Chinese food you’ll find in the region!
The Chinatown Food Street is located conveniently in the heart of Chinatown at Smith Street, serving various local fares like Char Kway Teow (a noodle dish fried with fresh cockles), Carrot Cake (a steamed, savory radish cake fried with eggs), or Rojak (a refreshing local salad tossed with sweet peanut sauce).
There is also a popular dessert stall by Temple Street, just on the neighboring street. Another stall not far away serves succulent dim sum, and further out back you’ll find a packed crowd enjoying frog-legs porridge.
Singaporeans are big on food, and don’t mind queuing for up to an hour just to get a simple lunch meal. So if you’re not pressed for time, you’ll do well to queue behind a long line. That way you can be sure you’re enjoying a tasty meal, and one of the many local favorites!
Trendy Clarke Quay
On the way towards Clarke Quay, you’ll pass by The Central, the newest shopping extravaganza directly opposite Clarke Quay. Featuring over 600 shops spread over five levels, The Central is modeled with Japan’s urban chic influence. If you’re looking for local trendsetting designs, head towards the upper floors which play host to a number of local fashion designers.
When you’re done exploring The Central (which shouldn’t take long really, unless you’re out to shop), head out across the river to Clarke Quay, where the nightlife truly starts.
Five blocks of restored, remodeled and redesigned warehouses are host to various restaurants and nightclubs. There are also moored boats that have been refurbished into floating pubs and restaurants.
There is The Arena, a 10,000 square feet establishment providing international live music. The Bellini Grande, another recently developed establishment, is a modern day supper club, where a hip mix of retro and current trends serves up the heat.
Recent renovations to Clarke Quay has seen a dome-like umbrella covering a large portion of the streets, so you can still walk around Clarke Quay even when it rains. On the weekends it is always packed with a variety of crowds, from the bar-goers watching sports over a pint of beer, to the younger crowds frequenting the various cafes, to the fashionistas out to light up the night. A great place to people watch, but tables are hard to come by so come early.
Rustic Boat Quay
Finally, wind down the day at Boat Quay, relaxing over supper at its various cafes or enjoy a leisurely pint at one of its many bars. Located not far from Clarke Quay, Boat Quay is the less glamorous little sister, but with its own rustic charm and unique establishments.
The shop houses built along the river in the 1930s are preserved and restored, along with several newer additions that adds to the lively colors in show.
The river-side establishments at Boat Quay are mostly restaurants and cafes, while the other side are mostly bars, pubs and night-lounges. It is one of the best spots in Singapore for alfresco dining – a popular hangout for locals, expatriates and tourists, with a good variety of choice: chic cafes, high-end restaurants, yuppie pubs and designer galleries.
Harry’s Bar, located at No 28, is one of Singapore’s most popular live-music scene popular amongst numerous expatriates working in the towering skyscrapers nearby. Nick Leeson, the infamous trader who brought down England’s Barings Bank, frequented this bar, and they’ve concocted a drink in his honour – aptly called The Bankbreaker.
Jazz@Southbridge is another popular watering hole, attracting a legion of followers with its unique brand of jazz. The bar prides itself as the launching pad for homegrown jazz talents as well as the rendezvous point for famed maestros. The classy ambience is a perfect way to end the night on a high note!
I hope you enjoyed these suggestions for a day (and night) trip in Singapore. Do share your own experiences and favorite sites! Even at land-scarce Singapore, there are plenty to see and do, a little bit of everything for everyone.