Take a relaxing cruise down memory lane on a sampan, the traditional mode of river transport in Singapore’s early days. The sampan will take you down the Singapore River, passing by the city’s hotspots, including the auspicious Boat Quay. Cost: Adult $10, child $6 (2-12 years old) Infants, even if carried by parents, are not allowed on board. Tickets are available at the B2 Concierge next to the canal.
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A sampan for the tai-tais
The sight of the sampan in the middle of MBS always made me laugh. The entire logic of spending $10 for someone to row you down an artificial "canal" (more like a glorified drain if you ask me) and for what? It's not like the Prada bags are going to get any cheaper if you sail past it on a gondola.
Objectively, I have never been on the sampan itself. However, people could probably walk to their destination faster than sitting on that wooden boat. The novelty of it is somewhat amusing, and I suppose clueless tourists or tai-tais can always opt for a ride if they are too lazy to walk ten steps to the next shoe shop.
A rather obsolete attraction in the MBS complex in my opinion, they'd be better off building a cable car from the MRT straight up to the Gardens By The Bay.
The most silly thing in the whole of the MBS.
Venice in Singapore? A charming idea! A romantic ride down the canal with spectacular view and natural wind, no one but you, your significant other and a good natured rower. Relaxing, pretty and over all fantastic.
Everything that the poor imitation in MBS is not.
I would not have minded if it was free ride though I suspect even if then it would have been worth it. But asking $10.00 to sit on a sampan while it pathetically bobs up and down is beyond preposterous, it's almost criminal. The so called view is of upscale shops, something you can as well see if you choose to walk down the mall instead of taking the sampan. There is no wind as it is a aircon mall. The waves are artificial so obviously choppy. 90% of the time the poor rower have to struggle to keep the sampan on course, an obvious engineering mishap must have happened on the wave functions.
MBS is such a stylist and classy place and these is such huge eyesore! If money is nothing to you, respect your time and do not take the sampan ride. You would not regret it.
I laughed the first time I saw the sampan in Marina Bay Sands.
Although similar to the gondolas in Venice, the prime difference between the sampan ride at MBS and the gondolas in Venice is that the sampan ride is absolutely pointless. While the gondolas can take a tourist around Venice to see the sights of the city, the sampan ride is unfortunately located within a mall (and a relatively small one at that), to bring tourists to see.. Chanel and Victoria's Secret, both of which do not even belong to our country.
The Sampan ride is probably patronized only by the tourists, and is a poorly concealed tourist trap, because it is obvious that no local in his right mind would actually spend money to go on a 5-minute ride around the basement of a mall.
Perhaps a fresh experience for tourists, but I don't think I will be going on that sampan ride any time soon.
Let the kids experience
I was given free passes for the ride after dining at MBS. I did not take the ride myself but I was by the side taking photos of my wife and children in the sampan. The sampan was going at such a slow speed that I was able to take a lot of shoots and I was even able to cross the bridge to take photos from the other side.
The "river" was not that long but the whole ride took about ten minutes. The boat rower even let my children tried rowing the boat. I guessed that was why the ride took so long because when my children took over rowing, the sampan did not move much. A good experience for the kids if it is free but paying for it may not be worth it.
What's the point?
Can someone tell me what on earth a sampan is doing in the basement of a shopping mall? What exactly is the point of sitting on a sampan and being rowed around back and forth in such a short space? And for ten dollars? The only word I can think of now is ridiculous.
Even if you had loads to cash to spare, please do spend your money elsewhere and I hope eventually the management realises how redundant and pointless this whole ride is, and gets rid of it altogether. Why don't you place this attraction in the Singapore River instead? That seems like a more obvious choice, as compared to a shopping mall. After all, what's there to see?
What a waste of $10.
Once is enough
I have tried the Sampan Rides at MBS once and it was a unique experience. But once was enough. Although it was fun sitting on a boat being paddled around, I felt rather embarrassed when curious passers-by stopped to marvel at our - I mean the sampan's beauty. The Gondola in Venice is nothing but romantic, but the Sampan Rides in Singapore.. How should I say it? It is indeed somewhat similar to the Gondola, but the feeling it gives you is vastly different.
This experience might be refreshing for the tourists but definitely not the locals. Well in the first place, the Sampan Rides was created with the tourists in mind, isn't it?
Not even for the tourists...
Whenever I am at MBS, I would notice the sampan rides. It was only not long ago that I actually realized that you could literally sit on it for a short ride around the water path at the basement level 1, when I saw a foreign mother and her little child sitting on the boat. It sounded interesting, as the man rowing the boat was telling stories and entertaining the lady.
It was only until I realized that the end was literally within the basement itself that I questioned who would be so bored as to sit on this ride, go around a miserable distance of water WITHIN a mall, listen to a story or two, and worst of all, pay for all this. Yes, this 'ride' comes with a price... Okay fine, I guess the sampan boat rowers deserve their pay, but... I heard it's about $10? Really? For such a short boat ride?
No wait, paying isn't the worst. The worst is that people around MBS can literally see you riding this money throwing ride.
The view is/should be nice, as is the whole of basement level 1 of MBS, but for the sampan ride, I feel that it is highly recommended only if you have too much money to get rid of... Otherwise, you're better off saving the money and treating yourself to a classy meal within the mall.
Seriously, would any Singaporean local bother to take a sampan ride here? Let me just put things in perspective. You, probably dressed nicely, if not to the nines (after all you are in MBS), and you head up to a boat in the middle of no... not Vienna, but a shopping mall?
Just let that process through your head.
I can safely say that no one would be foolish enough to spend $10 on something that is simply put, boring. Most customers I see are tourists or families anyways, probably looking for something to experience for the day. A pity though, there are more interesting sights in our beautiful nation than a fake boat ride.
all that floats are not real boats
Seriously. Give me $10 and a set of oars, perhaps I would acquiesce to step unto the sorry excuse of an MBS Sampan again. I've had more fun sliding poker-faced down the Sentosa Luge Trail (whoopee-do, a whole lot of nothing), than on this rickety contraption designed to fleece unsuspecting tourists.
As frequent guests of MBS hotel, we never had difficulty scoring free passes for the Sampan rides - yet, I declined the passes ever-so-politely after my first experience. Nevertheless, the Sampan operators and rowers are polite, friendly and impeccably dressed a-la-MBS. To be fair, they do work at sustaining this semblance of an attraction. In spite of their best efforts though, I'm pretty sure anyone with a smidgen of common sense wouldn't be back.
The highlight of my ride was when we passed that faux wishing fountain, with the multitude of coins strewn in by wide-eyed visitors and seasoned gamblers. Yup, the sampan ride is dead as the Awesome Possum.
Why would anyone ride the sampan?
When I first entered the Shoppe at Marina Bay Sands, upon seeing the sampan rides taking place, my reaction was, "seriously?" I could not phantom why anyone would ride on the sampans. It was a fairly dull and tasteless activity, sitting on the slow sampan and waiting for the rower to row the sampan from one end of the river to the other. The bobbing of the sampan up and down due to the choppy waves were also unpleasant. Barring the fact that taking the ride would allow one to become at the very centre of attraction of the mall itself, I see no reason why anyone would pay $10 for this ride.