Clarke Quay is essentially a strip of restaurants and bars right on the Singapore riverfront (reminiscent of Hong Kong's Stanley in terms of a generally expat / tourist crowd that is laid back and in casual wear) - you can find eateries and bars that are right in line with Singapore's mix of primarily Indian, Malaysian, Chinese and European transplants. And then some American staples and important exports, like Hooters (heavy sarcasm intended) but with local waitresses.
Not being a young adult, but yes travelling with my parents - we brisked past the pubs towards the mall and supermarket at the end of the riverfront walk to stock up on drinks (another reason that makes Clarke Quay a convenient place to stay).
Somewhere along the way, we ran across a kiosk selling day cruises down the river - sort of like the Bateau Mouche in Paris, which offers a great way to see key sights in the city in a relaxed, short ride for just $15SG per person. My mom ingeniously also discovered that for $3SG more (so total of $18SG = ~$14US pp), you can use the cruise like a water taxi for 24 hours - with unlimited hopping on/off at popular stops should you wish to take a closer look on foot.
There were sights both along the right and left banks of the river, and we passed another riverfront tourist hangout called Boat Quay, another collection of al fresco restaurants and bars...
...and Singapore's iconic symbol, the Merlion
Apparently Skypark is not some national monument, but the brainchild of some marketing genius behind the Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino (which occupy the three towers below the 'ark'). You can pretty much see this structure from anywhere in the city, and it draws people in like some invisible beacon, or moths to a flame.
The view from the top is spectacular - especially to see the fleets of ships 'taking a break' near harbor in the South China Sea.
The mall was also built to entertain/impress - with a faux 'river' running through the heart and gondolas for rent (yeah it's kind of like the Venetian, Las Vegas). With high tourist traffic due to the hotel and casino - there are many international brands at this mall, even when it comes to eateries. Oh yes, this is where Nancy Silverton's Mozza has its Singapore outpost. We didn't try it as we have one in LA, and we'd rather focus on things from, or that you can only get in Singapore.
This was a branch of the Singaporean teahouse chain TWG, which treats tea as an art form.
The concept is steeped in the history of and celebrates Singapore as a former trading post for tea, spices and gourmet goods. Unfortunately the letters stand for something that isn't as exotic - The Wellness Group - the corporation that runs the business.
The tea menu did end up a bit overwhelming - so we simply asked the waiter for recommendations. I went with a Fruit Mountain Tea milkshake - made with a black tea with "golden asian fruits" ($11SG ~$9US), SO good but pricey, while my parents went for classic hot teas: Genmaicha and Dragon Well.
They also have a great menu of salads, sandwiches and desserts which feature their teas as ingredients - we started with a Seared Foie Gras Salad ($29SG ~$23US) with housemade pan-seared foie gras served on tender spinach shoot salad, caramalized apples and carrots drizzled with Chocolate tea infused vinagrette.
Then my dad got a Mango Crumble ($12SG ~$9US) a delicious tart with mango wedges, light coconut cream infused with Vanilla Bourbon tea, topped with crunchy crumble biscuit, and scoop of Alfonso tea ice cream (black tea blended with rare mango). Every spoonful of this was pure heaven with fragrant tea interplaying with fresh, tart mango flavors.
My mom got a Bourbon Island Crepe ($14SG ~$11US) with mango marmalade tossed in light caramel sauce infused with Vanilla Bourbon tea and flavored with coconut, lime and vanilla.
I took the liberty of dipping my fork into both their plates, plus a Grand Wedding Tea macaron with passionfruit & coconut ($2SG ~$1.50US).
The teas, food and space are all lovely though some items were pricey - this was the most delicious and relaxing afternoon tea we've ever had in the middle of a mall (or perhaps any cafe).
Boon Tong Kee, a restaurant recommended by my uncle - also a foodie! :) - we dragged ourselves back onto the HiPPO boat for one last ride, to capture the nighttime experience and views.
I don't know if it's just a case of - almost everything in the city always looks better at night - but we LOVED Singapore from a riverboat after dark.
All in all, a spectacular day with lots of great memories and 'Kodak' (or shall I say Instagram? Sadly people don't use film/prints photos anymore) moments, for relatively little money - loved it!
[For more photos from our Singapore trip, check out my album on Facebook]
Ph: +65 6337-3292
HiPPO River Cruises
Clarke Quay, Singapore (kiosk next to Hooters)
Ph: +65 6338-6877
Bayfront Avenue, 10 | Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore 018956, Singapore
+65 6688 8888
TWG Tea on the Bridge
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
2 Bayfront Ave., Singapore 018972 Canal Level B2-89
Ph: +65 6535 1837