Whether you’re on a tight schedule or just have aching feet, a cruise along the Singapore River is a great way to sit back and soak up Singapore’s sights. Regular boat tours last about 30 minutes and cruise past the city’s most iconic landmarks including the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands.
Two companies operate boat tours of the Singapore River: Singapore River Cruise and Duck & Hippo River Tour. The first is slightly cheaper and the latter has a live commentary, but they offer roughly the same experience. Both tours depart from docks along Clarke Quay, sail upriver past the shophouses-turned-bars of Boat Quay, financial district, colonial Fullerton Hotel and durian-inspired Esplanade Theatre until they reach the mouth of Marina Bay. After pausing so passengers can pose with the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands in the background, the boat turns around and retraces its route back. Boat tours depart every 20 minutes or so and there is no need to buy tickets in advance.
Singapore River Cruise charges S$17 for their 40-minute tour with a discounted price of S$10 for children. They also offer a 60-minute tour for S$22 that goes to Robertson Quay, but the added sights are nothing special. They’ve been cruising the Singapore River since 1987 and their boats are designed to look like traditional ‘bum boats’, but electrically operated for a smooth, silent ride. When I went on this tour the audio commentary was a DVD played at the front of the boat, and from the outdoor seats at the back it wasn’t possible to hear a word of it.
Duck & Hippo Tours charges S$18 for their 30-minute tour with a discounted price of S$13 for children. Their boats have a modern look and some are ‘topless’’ without a roof to obstruct your photos, plus there is a guide on board who gives a running commentary of each attraction as you pass. Duck & Hippo also operate bus tours and walking tours of Singapore, and you can save some money by buying a sightseeing package that includes them all.
Singapore River Cruise: 6336 6111, boat tours daily 09:00-23:00;
Duck & Hippo Tours: 6338 6877, boat tours daily from 10:00-22:00.
By Tanya Procyshyn
Last updated on 14th November, 2014.