The Istana Singapore
The Istana is an estate of 106 acres in the heart of Singapore.
It is the official residence of the president of Singapore, yet only one of the 8 presidents has actually lived there.
The recently appointed president, Halimah Yacob, even lives in an HDB, which is a first. She’s also the first female president of Singapore. Even though the Prime Minister plays a bigger role here than the president, it is still progress to finally see a woman in this role.
The Istana houses the offices of the prime minister and the president and is used for official visits from other leaders of the world.
It has a complete golf course on its grounds. And there are gardens, ponds and trees.
Open House at the Istana
The premises are normally closed for the public, but it opens its doors 5 times a year. Next sunday, october 22th, is one of those days, because of Deepavali.
Access costs very little and also the guided nature tours and the tours inside the Istana are cheap.
The only hassle is the way everything is organised, causing long, long queues and sold out tours.
Insider tips for your visit to the Istana
We have been to several of these open days at the Istana during our eight plus years in Singapore.
From our experiences I can tell and advice you the following:
- go there early! To avoid the crowds and the heat
- you can wander around freely and on your own. There is even an app for a self guided nature walk on the grounds of the Istana.
- or you can join one of the tours. If you are planning on doing that, I advice you to make your way to the booth where you can subscribe first. Sometimes slots for the next hours are booked solid, so then you can already book ahead and wander around until your time slot is up.
- there are various activities planned, from music concerts to bird shows (sunday), so get yourself an overview of the program and go for what appeals to you
- there is some shade and there are some benches, but not a whole lot. So bring a picnic cloth to spread out on the grass. Also bring an umbrella for shade or shelter, mosquito-repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat.
- bring your passport, especially if you are a foreigner
- leave items like lighters, pocketknives, etc at home or it will be confiscated at the security screening
- pets are not allowed
- no smoking or alcohol allowed
- you can buy snacks and drinks on the premises
We will probably not visit another Open House at the Istana. We have seen enough and we hate queueing. But we do advice it to everyone who has never been there before.
Have you visited one of the Istana’s open house days? How was your experience? Are you going sunday?