To many, the Merlion is the mythical symbol of Singapore, and is as synonymous with Singapore as chilli crab. The Merlion is the most popular attraction on the whole island, and easily over the years becomes Singapore’s tourism icon. However, not everyone knows how the Merlion came about so let’s trace back its origin and development.

Built by local craftsman Lim Nang Seng, the Merlion was unveiled on September 15, 1972 by former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at the mouth of the Singapore River, to welcome all visitors to this country. In 2002, the Merlion was relocated 120 metres away from the original position to where it stands in Merlion Park today, in front of Fullerton Hotel and overlooking Marina Bay Sands.


The Merlion at night. Image:

Today, you can glimpse this legend at Merlion Park. Spouting water from its mouth, the Merlion statue stands tall at 8.6 metres and weighs 70 tonnes, whose head represents Singapore’s original name, Singapura, or ‘lion city’ in Malay, and the body symbolises Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, meaning ‘sea town’ in Old Javanese. The park also houses a smaller Merlion statue. Known as the ‘Merlion cub’, it stands at 2 metres tall and weighs three tonnes.

This icon is a ‘must-see’ for tourists visiting Singapore, similar to other significant landmarks around the world. The Merlion Part is just a short walk from Raffles Place MRT Station and completely free to visit. At the park, you can find several cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, and on-site toilets.


You can get up close to the statue or walk along the purpose-built jetty that sticks out into the bay, presenting the best position for that all-important holiday snap: bonus points if you can position yourself so it looks like the fountain of water from the Merlion is falling into your own mouth! Many tourists have included this destination in their day-tour, but better to come early in the morning or late at night to avoid the crowds, and enjoy the particularly pleasant view across the bay.

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Written by Linh Tran