Origin of The Merlion

To understand the origins of the Merlion, it is important to revisit Singapore’s history.

Legend has it that Prince Sang Nila Utama - who re-discovered the ancient trading port, Temasek - saw a lion when he arrived at the island. This incident inspired him to call the island Singapura, a portmanteau of two Sanskrit words: Singa and Pura, meaning ‘lion’ and ‘city,’ respectively.

Close up of the iconic Merlion statue in Singapore, spouting water

Taking inspiration from this tale, the Merlion was originally designed in 1964 by Alec Frederick Fraser-Brunner, a British ichthyologist, to be used as a logo for the Singapore Tourism Board. Mr. Brunner was an esteemed member of the Souvenir Committee and served as a curator of the Van Kleef Aquarium. He added a fish tail to his design as an ode to the country’s humble beginnings as a fishing village. Though the Singapore Tourism Board adopted a new logo in 1997, the Merlion remains an iconic symbol of Singapore to this day.

The first Merlion statue was constructed in 1971-72 by local sculptor Mr. Lim Nang Seng and inaugurated by the country’s then Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, on 15 September 1972. Mr. Lim also created a smaller statue called the ‘Merlion Cub,’ which was 2 metres tall, and sat behind its elder sibling. In 2002, both statues were re-located to the new Merlion Park, a newly reclaimed promontory overlooking the Marina Bay.

The Merlion

How Many Merlions are there in Singapore?

As of February 2023, there are six Singapore Tourism Board-approved Merlion statues in Singapore. The Merlion Park, spotted near Marina Bay Sands is home to the original Merlion statue, with a smaller Merlion statue measuring 2-metre tall located near it.

Other Merlion statues can be found at the Tourism Court (near Grange Road), Mount Faber's Faber Point, and another pair at the entrance of the car park along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1.

The Merlion and Feng Shui

The Merlion has a significant connection with the principles of Feng Shui. Believed to usher in tremendous success, the Merlion status at the Merlion Park is carefully oriented to face the East, an auspicious direction.

The unending water gushing from the Merlion symbolises a continuous flow of prosperity, a notion influenced by both traditional superstitions and specific principles of Feng Shui.

How to Go to Merlion Park

The closest MRT station to the Merlion Park is Raffles Place (EW14/ NS26).

From Marina Bay Sands

You can head to the Merlion Park from Marina Bay Sands by foot, train or the bus.

  • By foot: Take a 18-minutes walk along the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade.
  • By train: Take the Downtown Line from Bayfront (CE1/ DT16), and alight at Downtown (DT17) before walking for 13-minutes.
  • By bus: Take bus 106 or 133 from the Sands Theatre, and alight 2 stops later at The Esplanade before walking for 10-minutes.

Singapore River Cruise

There are many ways to reach the Merlion, but we recommend a cruise down the Singapore River to the jetty closest to the statue.

The Singapore River Cruise is a 40-minute ride on a rustic bumboat that meanders through the stunning districts of Clarke Quay, Boat Quay, and Marina Bay. Besides the Merlion statue, tourists can view some of Singapore’s iconic landmarks such as Marina Bay Sands, ArtScience Museum, Sir Stamford Raffles Statue, the Esplanade and more. Passengers can alight or hop-on at Clarke Quay Jetty along the river and continue their journey on foot.

Things To Do in Merlion Park

Besides capturing that perfect Instagram shot with Singapore's renowned icon, you can explore and uncover a multitude of things to do in Merlion Park.

Catch the Majestic Light Show

Experience the magic of Singapore's iconic light show from a unique vantage point at Merlion Park. As dusk falls, the city's skyline transforms into a vibrant tapestry of lights, with the mesmerising spectacle reflecting off the waters of Marina Bay. From the park, you'll have an unobstructed view of the famous Spectra – A Light & Water Show, which combines lasers, fountains, and visual projections to create a captivating performance. This unforgettable display of light, sound, and water movement is not to be missed during your visit to Merlion Park.

Explore alternative places to catch this light show.

Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade

A fantastic way to get the most out of your trip to Merlion Park is to walk or cycle around the Marina Bay waterfront promenade.

Embark on a picturesque 3.5-km jogging route in Singapore that not only offers breathtaking views but also traverses some of the city's most Instagrammable spots. Admire the world's only floating Apple store, Helix Bridge, ArtScience Museum, Singapore Flyer and the iconic Marina Bay Sands. If you are up for a challenge, add Gardens by the Bay to your cycling route for a more satisfying biking trip.

After the Merlion Park

Within the vicinity, there are many attractions, shopping, and dining amenities for you to relax at after a day of exploration. Recharge and relax in the lap of luxury after your Merlion adventure at Marina Bay Sands, home to hundreds of stores, restaurants, and bars to satisfy all your shopping and dining needs.


Rooftop Bars & Restaurants

LAVO Italian Restaurant and Rooftop Bar

Salad from LAVO, a restaurant near Merlion Park

LAVO is an award-winning restaurant that offers authentic Italian-American cuisine. Savour their signature dishes such as the Charred Octopus and the famed LAVO Meatball, made with fresh Imperial Wagyu Beef, Italian sausage, and whipped ricotta cheese. Polish off your meal with their delectable 20-Layer Chocolate Cake, and sip on their handcrafted cocktails at the sprawling outdoor bar and terrace with spectacular views of the city skyline.

LAVO is located at L57, Hotel Tower 1, Marina Bay Sands.

Spago Bar & Lounge

3 tuna cones at Spago, a rooftop bar near Merlion Park

As far as the rooftop restaurants in Singapore go, Spago Bar & Lounge in Marina Bay Sands is in the clouds. Owned by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, Spago’s speciality is Californian cuisine with a modern twist. Lavish your palate with Spago’s careful mix of flavours and signature light bites like the Big Eye Tuna Tartare Cones, or must-haves such as the Miso Broiled Ora King Salmon and the Chicken ‘Laksa’ Spring Roll.

Spago is located at L57, Sands SkyPark, Hotel Tower 2.

Waterfront Bars & Restaurants

Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay

Handcrafted cocktail at Bread Street Kitchen overlooking the Merlion

Bread Street Kitchen by Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay offers a contemporary rendition of traditional British cuisine. Dishes worth trying are the creamy Buttermilk Pancakes and the all-time classic English Breakfast, comprising eggs, bacon, sausage, and mushrooms. For a healthier breakfast, opt for the Avocado on Toast or the Eggs Benedict. Cleanse your palate with their fruity smoothies, cold-pressed juices, or signature cocktails. Unwind along Marina Bay with a view of the Merlion at these waterfront bars in Singapore

Bread Street Kitchen is located at L1-81, The Shoppes.

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Fried dish topped with pork belly at Yardbird, a waterfront restaurant overlooking the Merlion

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar is the place for American comfort food made with farm-fresh ingredients and traditional Southern flavours. Try their legendary Chicken ‘n’ Watermelon ‘n’ Waffles at this western restaurant for the perfect combination of sweet and savoury. Seafood lovers will enjoy the tasty Crab Cake Benedict, or the Lobster Mac & Cheese. End the night at their Instagram-worthy alfresco bar with a sip of their handcrafted cocktails, such as the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade and Watermelon Sling.

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar is located at B1-07, The Shoppes.