A Visitor’s Guide to Clark Quay, Singapore

The words ‘Clark Quay’ are heard quite often around Singapore, whenever the conversation veers off in a direction of nightlife, weekend entertainment, dining out and partying on this ever-evolving city/island. Without a doubt, Clark Quay has got an impressive reputation to uphold as a haven for locals and foreigners or ‘expats’ alike, providing a healthy mix of nightclubs and restaurants that can please anyone’s finicky selection. Clark Quay has got the best of both worlds in that it stays hip and happening by catering to the younger twenty-somethings, but retains its more mature and sophisticated edge by providing plenty of entertainment to the slightly and not so slightly older crowds as well.

The neighborhood of Clark Quay (pronounced ‘Key’) is located in one of the historical parts of Singapore within the Singapore River Planning Area. Originally centered around a trade hub at Singapore River, Clark Quay was built and developed as a commercial center, with a lot of warehouses that stored various goods springing up left and right along the waterfront. Due to the excessive use of the river by the boats and barges, the Singapore River eventually became extremely polluted in the early part of the twentieth century and remained so until the relocation of the cargo services to Pasir Panjang.

After the decline in commercial and shipping activity, plans were formulated to transform Clark Quay into a revitalized area suitable for tourism and clean of pollution. The intent was to preserve the historical fabric of the buildings located in the neighborhood and to take every care so that all the new buildings built in the area conformed to the historical character set forth by the existing architecture. Unlike many neighborhoods in Singapore, where older buildings were demolished without regard for historicity to make way to new developments and condos, Clark Quay benefited from the historical preservation efforts and retains its old school charm up to this day.

In the 2000’s, Clark Quay’s development reached its peak. The intent of the extensive revamp was to provide the neighborhood with a diverse tenant mix and attract more entertainment options to the area. In this respect, the efforts succeeded in bringing many nightclubs and restaurants to Clark Quay’s restored warehouses.

Today, Clark Quay is one of the main hot spots for nighttime entertainment. The appeal of Clark Quay is precisely in its diversity of establishments, from American burger-and- beer joints, to Cuban salsa enclaves, to techno-filled night clubs. It is never a dull or quiet night in Clark Quay with people from all walks of life mingling, meeting up, hooking up on various intersections, bridges, or dark corners of pulse-pumping clubs.

An always-happening party central, Clark Quay claims to have some of the world’s best pubs. Whether that is true or not, the bars are always overflowing with people and spirits on any given night, especially on the weekends. A little claustrophobic at times, Clark Quay is not for the tame at heart, despite Singapore’s overall mild-not-wild party reputation. Places like The Clinic and Forbidden City dazzle with the environments that are beyond just any average pub crawl experience, with the former reinterpreting the elements found in a traditional hospital setting and the latter transporting its visitors to an exotic world of statuesque Buddha sculptures and lavish Ming Dynasty-style chairs.

The restaurants in Clark Quay also speak volumes about the diverse public that comes to frequent the neighborhood. From Quayside Seafood Grill, offering a staple Singapore dish – pepper crab, to Brewerkz, Singapore’s first and arguably most popular microbrewery and burger place, the restaurants can offer a taste of familiar local cuisine or take their diners on culinary trips around the world.

Clark Quay has evolved from an industrial waterfront to a bustling nightlife destination in Singapore. It has been able to transform with time and changing tastes of the thrill-seeking public and to recognize the importance to cater to the party-loving ‘expat’ crowds that come in and out of the city, whether it be for work or for pleasure. Clark Quay is a must-visit destination for young and old, but especially for party goers of all ages.

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