A trip to Singapore should leave you with a lot of interesting experiences worthy to stash in your book of memories. One experience you will surely remember Singapore by is through its national icon, a half-fish and half-lion mythical animal called Merlion. There are five of these in Singapore; two at Merlion Park, one at Mount Faber, one at Sentosa Island, and one at the head office of Singapore Tourism Board located on Orchard Spring Lane.
This beast has a lion head and a fish tail. The lion is a symbol of Singapore’s original name “Singapura” or “Lion City.” The fish tail is a reminder of Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village when it was still called “Temasek.”
The imposing landmark in Merlion Park can’t be missed as the lion-fish legend, spurting water from its mouth, proudly stands at 8.6 meters and weighs all of 70 tons. The body of the original sculpture is built in cement fondue. It is covered with porcelain plates and has eyes of tiny red teacups.
It used to stand at the mouth of the Singapore River where it greets and welcomes arriving visitors. It was designed as early as 1964, but it was built in 1972 by a local craftsman named Lim Nang Seng. It was officially unveiled before the public on 15 September 1972 by Lee Kuan Yew, its former Prime Minister.
The completion of Esplanade Bridge in 1997 marred the perfect view that visitors used to enjoy from the waterfront. Thus, the iconic Merlion Statue was moved in 2002 by about 1220 meters from its old post to its new home at Merlion Park adjacent to One Fullerton, which is overlooking the picturesque Marina Bay.
Merlion Park also houses another smaller statue that stands two meters and weighs three tons. It is called as the ‘”Merlion Cub.”
Things to Do in Merlion Park and Around Singapore
Merlion Park is a widely held Singapore tourist attraction. Aside from the Merlion statues, there are other attractions within the park:
- Youth Olympic Park: This new landmark is located near the entrance of the double-helix bridge in Marina Bay. Many of the interesting sights came from notable young Singaporeans. For instance, the artworks in the park are the winning pieces from a local competition for kids 8 to 28 years old, a rock wall with paintings made by youths, and the landscaped labyrinth by Aniket Chavan, 11 years old, with a 4.5-metre high “mountain” based on a drawing by from Joyce Seah, also 11 years old.
- Singapore Helix: This architectural marvel, the world’s first double-helix vehicular bridge, links the Marina Bay Integrated Resort to the Bayfront Avenue. It is made of special stainless steel tubes that are meticulously arranged to achieve the helix. From here, visitors can get a sweeping view of the Singapore skyline and waterfront.
- Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall: This double-story colonial villa, also known as Wan Qing Yuan and located at Balestier, is a museum that houses some memorabilia for Dr Sun Yat Sen. The villa used to be the headquarters of the Chinese Revolutionary Alliance’s Southeast Asia and the communications center by the Japanese during WWII.
- Chinatown Heritage Centre: This is the place to go if you wish to have a cultural immersion or know more about the Chinese immigrants’ untold stories in the early days. This cultural center is a faithful reproduction of life as it was from the late-19th century to the early-20th century.
- Changi Museum: This museum is a poignant reminder of Singapore’s WWII history during the Japanese Occupation. The collection of memoirs –drawings, letters and other artifacts – touchingly recount stories of suffering as well as hope and resilience.
- Asian Civilisations Museum: This museum built in honor of Queen Victoria houses ten thematic galleries that promote interest in Singapore’s history and legacy. The highlights will take you to the classic aspects of pan-Asian heritage with the exquisite artifacts from the Southeast Asia, including Sri Lanka, India and Turkey.
- Peranakan Museum: This museum, which is now a national landmark, is housed in an old school known as Tao Nan School. It is the world’s first museum for Peranakan cultures, history and traditions.
The other Singapore landmarks you mustn’t miss include: Singapore City Gallery, the National Museum of Singapore, the Red Dot Design Museum, and the Marina Barrage.
When you get to Merlion Park, keep the memories fresh with souvenir photos; take a snap of the Merlion statues. Don’t miss the sweeping scenic view from the Marina Bay Sands and its Wonder Full, as laser and water show held twice-nightly. Finally, take a river cruise on a refurbished bumboat and explore its other celebrated attractions –Clarke Quayand Boat Quay.