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Time Required : Less than 1 hour

Timings : 8:30 AM - 6:00 PM

Istana, Singapore Overview

Istana, meaning 'Palace' in Malay, is the office and official residence of the President of Singapore and the working office of the Prime Minister of Singapore. The grand, whitewashed, neoclassical building is set in 16 hectares of ground on the Orchard Road. Built by the British between 1867 and 1869, The Istana is open to visitors on five selected statutory holidays in a year: Chinese New Year (January/February), Deepavali (October/November), Hari Raya Puasa (Eid - marking the end of Ramadan festival), Labour Day (May 1) and a chosen date before the National Day (7 August). There is a very eventful changing of guards on the first Sunday of every month which is the best time to visit Istana.

The Istana ground and six functions rooms are often the venues for state functions and ceremonial occasions like swearings-in, investitures and presentation of the credentials by heads of foreign missions. On the days when Istana is open to the public, one can stroll past the nine-hole golf course, through the mesmerising terraced gardens into the stunning reception hall. The Istana Open days also has various entertainment sections, educational activities like the 'Display of Reptiles by the Wildlife Reserves of Singapore', 'Guided Tour by National Heritage Board' and Nature Guided Walks. Local schools and youth groups showcase their music and dance skills through various performances. The rest of the time, access to the Istana is restricted to the heavily-guarded gates on the Orchard Road.

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Istana Singapore Entry Fees

Entrance fee for admission into Istana Grounds: 
SGD 2 per person
Free for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents

Entrance fee for Istana Main Building
Unguided:
Adults: SGD 4
Children (4 to 12 years): SGD 2
Guided:
Adults: SGD 10
Children (4 to 12 years): SGD 2
Family of four - SGD 30

Guided Tour

The Istana Palace has regular tours conducted at an interval of half hours. The tour registrations are done at the Istana Building Guided Tour Booth on the Open House days. The duration of the tour is 45 minutes which starts at 9:00 AM and ends at 3:00 PM. There are limited seats for registrations and bookings are done on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Entry Fee
Adults (above 13 years)- SGD 4
Children-SGD 2
Children below 3 years- No Entry Fee
Family of four (Singapore citizens)-SGD 12
Family of four (Foreign Nationals)-SGD 30
Note: Children 12 years and below are supposed to be accompanied by an adult.

Timings
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM every day
Closed on Wednesdays for maintenance.

Istana Heritage Gallery

The Istana Heritage Gallery at the Istana Park offers its visitors the opportunity to comprehend and contemplate the historical background of Istana. Gazetted as the National Monument in 1992, the Istana grew in the pace of its nation's development. This exhibition in the Gallery highlights Istana's transition from being the Colonial Governor's house to what it is now, the Official Residence of the President. A specially curated range of heritage showcases state artefacts, artworks and a collection of the state gifts received from foreign dignitaries by their past and present Presidents and Prime Ministers. The Istana Heritage Gallery is a work of collaboration between the President's Office, National Parks Board, National Heritage Board and the National Library Board.

Architecture of Istana

Similar to 18th-century Neo-Palladian style architecture by British military engineers in India, the Istana has a tropical layout like a Malay house. It has statuesque columns, louvred windows, deep verandahs and panelled doors to stimulate cross ventilation. The dominant feature of this building is the central three storey 28-metre high tower. The two storey side wings are well proportioned and feature Ionic, Doric and Corinthian orders with Ionic colonnades.

The first storey features Doric colonnades. The building is positioned on an elevated setting, overlooking the stately grounds and the Domain, reminding the great gardens of England. The Istana is a three storey establishment - the first-floor comprising of the Reception Hall, the Banquet Hall and the State Room. The second floor consists of the Reception Room, East Sitting Room, West Sitting Room, The Sheares Room and the Yusof Room, named after the first President of Singapore. The third floor has the office of the President of Singapore and The President's lounge which also serves as the main balcony of Istana.

History of Istana Singapore

Built by Major John Frederick Adolphus McNair, the Istana was constructed during 1867 and 1869 on the instructions of Sir Harry George Ord, the first colonial Governor. Formerly called as Government House of Singapore, the Istana was completed right before the visit of Prince Alfred, the first Duke of Edinburgh. Much later, in 1942, the invasion of Japan led to the serious destruction of the place and the entire establishment was in a state of ruin. The building was repaired and used by the Governers of the Crown Colony of Singapore. It was later passed down to the Government of Singapore after Singapore attained self-rule in 1959. It was then that the building got its name as Istana and became the official residence of the President of Singapore.

Tips

  • The ticket counter to enter the Istana Main Building closes at 5.30 PM
  • Pointed and sharp objects (e.g. knives of any size, forks), Flammable items (lighters) and canned food or drinks are not allowed.
  • Wheeled sports (eg. cycling, rollerblading), Littering, Smoking, Consumption of alcoholic drinks and Pets (except for guide dogs) are not allowed.

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