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Merlion Turns 50: A Guide to Singapore’s National Symbol

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 29 Mar 2022

Singapore’s national symbol, the Merlion statue that currently resides at Merlion Park, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on 15 September 2022.

Take a tour down memory lane to know more about the merlion’s beginnings and its journey towards becoming a symbol of Singapore’s past.

 

Clarke Quay

 

Journey 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.

 

Marina Bay Sands

 

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.

 

Merlion on River Cruise

 

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.

How many Merlions are there in Singapore?

There are six Singapore Tourism Board-approved Merlion statues in Singapore. Besides the two statues at Merlion Park, there is one at the Tourism Court (near Grange Road), one on Mount Faber's Faber Point, another pair at the entrance of the car park along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, and a giant replica at Sentosa (closed permanently).
 

Marina Bay Sands View

 

Into the Merlion's Den

 

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 any of the 13 jetties along the river and continue their journey on foot.

Take a look at our guide to Singapore River Cruise in which we list fun, water-related activities that you can try for a splash of fun.
 

Singapore River Cruise

 

Navigating around Merlion Park

Sightseeing around the Merlion statue is just one of many things to do at the Merlion Park. Within the vicinity, there are many attractions, shopping, and dining amenities for you to relax at after a day of exploration.

Marina Bay 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.

 

Helix Bridge in Singapore



This 3.5-km route covers some of the most Instagrammable spots in Singapore, including the world’s only floating Apple store, Helix Bridge, ArtScience Museum, Singapore Flyer, and 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.

 

Browse through our article on outdoor activities around Marina Bay for more information about these landmarks.

 

Apple Store MBS Outlet

 

Shopping and Dining


Recharge and relax in the lap of luxury after your Merlion adventure at Marina Bay Sands. As the ultimate leisure destination, Marina Bay Sands is home to hundreds of stores, restaurants, and bars to satisfy all your shopping and dining needs.
 

The Shoppes, located at Marina Bay Sands, is one of Singapore’s most lavish and sprawling shopping malls. Spanning over 800,000 square feet, you’ll find over 250 premium brand stores with a variety of retail categories from fashion and jewellery to sports and beauty. For a deep dive on what’s in store, check out shopping guide for Singapore.

Rooftop Bars & Restaurants

LAVO Italian Restaurant And Rooftop Bar

 

LAVO Italian Restaurant and Rooftop Bar

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

 

Spago Bar & Lounge

As far as the best 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

Unwind along Marina Bay with a view of the Merlion at waterfront restaurants. Two must-visit places are Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen and Yardbird Southern Table & Bar.
 

Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay

 

Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay

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. To learn more about the top local Michelin Star restaurants, check out our guide to the best Michelin Star restaurants in Singapore.

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

 

Yardbird

 

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

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 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 on their Instagram-worthy alfresco bar with a sip of their handcrafted cocktails, such as the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade and Watermelon Sling.

Yardbird is located at B1-07, The Shoppes.

 


Earn instant Reward Dollars at the above restaurants when you dine with your Sands Rewards Lifestyle membership. Benefits include instant Reward Dollars, all-day parking, and more.

Visit Merlion Park and plan your visit to Marina Bay Sands for a day of relaxation and sightseeing with other remarkable tourist attractions. Relax in comfort and experience a one-of-a-kind stay with our attractive hotel deals.

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