First published on 30 Mar 2012. Updated on 30 Mar 2012.
Hippo Boat Tour by Duck Tours
The route Clarke Quay Jetty, Riverside Jetty, Boat Quay Jetty, Merlion Park, Esplanade Jetty. Stops at Boat Quay Jetty.
The ride No humorous out-of-work actors on this yellow utilitarian deck of a boat, crammed with loud tourists – just a generic aeroplanestyle recording, spouting a fairly generic history of the Read, Elgin and Cavenagh bridges, with only the odd fact to wake us from our slumber (eg during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, the severed heads of criminals were hung from the bridge). The audio voice also tells us the boat will stop at five jetties, but we end up making only one stop at Boat Quay. Distinctly underwhelming.
$18 per 45-minute ride, $23 for all day pass. 10am-10pm daily (last boat leaves at 9.30pm).
The Tale of Two Quays by Singapore River Cruise
The route Clarke Quay Jetty, Riverside Jetty, Boat Quay Jetty, Merlion Park, Esplanade Jetty. No stops.
The ride By far the best-looking boat, this wooden bumboat is also quieter than the Hippo Tour boat on our visit. Alas, no live tour guide here either, just a dozy driver who doesn’t speak much English – but there is a DVD commentary, so you get swooping scenes of Clarke Quay to go with the more modern commentary, which focuses more on the malls, bars and restaurants than the history. The DVD’s attempts at slang (‘chocablock’) and humour (‘Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a UFO? No, it’s The High Court of Singapore’) are nice tries but, er, not quite.
$17 for 40-minute ride. 9am-11pm (last boat departs at 10.30pm).
WINNER: Bumble Bee Water Taxi by Duck Tours
The route Stops at Esplanade Jetty, Clarke Quay Jetty and Boat Quay Jetty.
The ride This addition to the Duck Tour packages, which can be bought separately at the three main jetties, is touted as just a ferry service. Yet it has exactly the same audio commentary as the Hippo Boat Tour, with a quieter engine and a better view. And you’re in a bumble bee. And it only costs you $8. Almost by default, it’s our winner.
$8 from outside Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay to Clarke Quay jetty. Noon-9pm daily. Arrive 15 minutes early to book.