Boat Quay serves as one of the most popular places for a waterside drink or nibble in Singapore, with its wide range of colourful and charismatic bars and alfresco restaurants. The compact area is sandwiched in between Clarke Quay in the north and Marina Bay in the south (both walkable).
While presenting one of the favourite sundowner spots in the city today, the famous quay has a rich history, deeply engraved into the foundations of the county; Boat Quay actually formed part of the busiest port in Singapore, managing the supply of imports and exports that enabled Singapore become a developed nation.
The main Boat Quay stretch comprises a pedestrianised lane that loops its way around the curve of the Singapore River, spilling out into Marina Bay and then eventually the Singapore Straits. Most of the bars and restaurants here are set in the iconic old multi-coloured houses, with the lane starting at Elgin Bridge and ending near the Fullerton Hotel.
As well as eating and drinking, Boat Quay is a real photographer’s playground. The coloured houses ooze personality, while the reflections at night across the water are equally as impressive. For the best vantage point head to Elgin Bridge – it’s here where you’ll be able to capture the gleaming CBD skyline towering over the pretty waterside houses in all their glory.
Where to drink at Boat Quay
RedDot BrewHouse – part indoor, part alfresco, this is the go-to spot for a quality ale around the boat quay area. Views are pleasant, but the real winner here is those homebrewed beers. Steaks, burgers and snack available too.
Mad Men Attic Bar – this hip bar is located one street back on North Canal Road. Honest drinks come at honest prices all in some cool, graffitied surroundings. The views aren’t bad either.
Neko no Niwa – cat café! Yes, that right – you can drink discounted tea and coffee (around $2) all in the company of a furry feline friend for the additional cost of $12 for an hour-long cuddle. (closed Tuesdays)
London – a tube-themed bar (that’s London’s MRT for the non Brits). Drinks go more international though, with an eye-catching ‘reverse happy hour’ where drinks get cheaper as the night goes on.
The Penny Black – this British-style booze supposedly had all its parts shipped half way across the world from England. Along with all the traditional pub furniture, there’s live sports (with a strong bias towards Newcastle United FC) as well as some decent bitters on tap.
The Spiffy Dapper – probably the best cocktail spot on Boat Quay; their in-house mixologist puts his unique touch on classics such as the signature Bloody Mary and Old Fashioned. Expect a price tag ($20+) to match.
Canvas Club – technically not at Boat Quay (just across South Bridge Road along the way to Clarke Quay and you’ll find it), Canvas Club is the reincarnation of the now-departed Home Club. Expect bass-heavy underground music late on, or arrive in the day to check out the cool art gallery space.
Where to eat at Boat Quay
Absinthe – this three floor venue has made a name for itself on Singapore’s French fine-dining scene with its unique take on the classics; expect foie gras terrine, canard confit and delicate desserts.
Enoteca L’Operetta – just as the name suggests, Italian food is the name of the game here. The elegant venue is part of a small chain, and we’re told they do a mean thin crust pizza in their in-house oven.
Sukhothai – named after the ancient capital of Siam, you can expect all the Thai classics here such as tom yang kung, green curry and spicy papaya salad.
Kinara – Indian classics with an elaborate list of Tandoor and Tawa treats. Seating inside.
Wakanui – high quality Japanese steaks cooked to perfect over a Japanese-style white oak fire.