The public transport system in Singapore is highly efficient with clean trains and buses arriving frequently. But there is one other mode of public transport that we take when we’re not in a rush, just to appreciate the journey itself, and that is the River Bus.
Because stepping off a bumboat? That’s the best way to arrive in style, isn’t it?
Buy your tickets at the Singapore River Cruise booth at Clarke Quay, right next to the Gmax reverse bungee station (opposite Central Mall). Remember to state that you want the River Bus (previously known as the River Taxi) – it costs $5 per person regardless of age, and payment is to be made by an Ez-link card. Just be blunt and request for “the $5 boat ride” or you’ll end up paying $25 for adults and $15 for children for a 40-minute guided tour. Since this option is not publicised (though it is shown on the website), many people go straight for the more expensive River Cruise so you are likely to end up having the whole boat to yourselves. Score!
If you don’t have an Ez-link card, the closest place to buy one would probably be Clarke Quay MRT station.
The guided tour is wonderful but frankly, I’ve been on it, and I’ve been on the River Boat a few times, and I’ve realised that kids don’t bother too much about guided tours. And you’re going to be on the same boat, and cruising down the same river anyway.
By the way there are eyes painted on the bumboats so that they can “see” and not get lost or bump into things! In the olden days, they used to be diesel powered but today, they’re electric and quiet.
The benefit of being on your own is that you’ll get to enjoy a quiet ride. And chat a little with the crew and very possibly listen to them sing along to 90s Mandarin pop songs. What an authentic way to travel!
From your pick up point, you’ll have to choose your destination. You’re not allowed to make a loop to return to the same station so to make your money’s worth, I recommend that you choose a station that’s further away. This map will show you where the boats ply, and this one will show you where you can board for the River Bus (I have only ever tried purchasing tickets from the Clarke Quay station, but I’m guessing you can get yours from any of these stations).
We usually take it from Clarke Quay to the Esplanade. That’s about 20 minutes on the boat, but to experience the gorgeous views of the skyline and the Marine Bay Sands from the water, it’s just breathtaking. Sometimes we just need to look at things from a different angle to appreciate them more.
Sit and feel the breeze in your hair. Wave at tourists. Remind your kids not to stick their heads too far out. Enjoy being in the city without the hustle and bustle of the city.
About Singapore River Cruise
Opening hours are 9am to 11pm. Skip the afternoon sessions unless you want to squint your way through the whole ride. I expect sunset rides would be lovely. Closest MRT station: Clarke Quay.
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