Colourful buildings along waterside at Clark Quay

Clarke Quay

If the Civic District is the grand older statesman of Singapore, Clarke Quay is its rebellious, party-loving teenager.

Spread out along one side of the Singapore River, almost opposite Marina Bay Sands, Clarke Quay is the place to let your hair down. It’s pretty in the daytime, when brightly painted boats bob in front of even more brightly painted shophouses, but it’s after dark that this area really comes alive.

From about five o’clock onwards, Clarke Quay’s bars and restaurants begin to fill up with young Singaporeans as they stop in for an after-work tipple — and often end up leaving hours later. Dance music bounces off the undersides of the giant, tree-like umbrellas that cover the streets. Along the riverbank, hawkers chef up sizzling treats for diners at outdoor terraces, sitting beneath neon-lit, mushroom-like canopies. Across the water, the lights of the CBD’s skyscrapers form a twinkling backdrop.

As the evening goes on, it gets busier and buzzier, with a trendy, bohemian vibe that’s quite distinct from the elegance of the Civic District or the more traditional feel of the ethnic enclaves. By the time the night’s in full swing it’s teeming, with crowds gathering twice a night to watch the incredible light show over the bay (and if you think that sounds a bit lame, just wait till you see it: music, projections, lasers, fountains — it’s amazing). Drinking culture in Singapore is a big, big deal, and Clarke Quay is the place to get stuck in.