If you look up this word on the internet, you will find that it means “palace”. And indeed it is, the palace of the President of the Republic of Singapore. From here he (or she) will receive and entertain state guests. The Prime Minister also works out of here.
Now if you are really into visiting the grounds, do note that unlike other presidential palaces such as the White house or the Kremlin, the Istana in Singapore is only opened to the public on specific days in the year. These coincide with the nationally gazette public holidays.
If you are really looking out for when you can visit, check out this link here. Do note that while this “attraction” is indeed free for Singaporeans and permanent residents, it is not for foreigners. But the fees are just a measly S$2 (good as of October 2016), so nothing next to free right?
For visitors, what if you do not happen to be in Singapore during the public holidays of our red dot? Guess the Istana gallery would be the next best thing! And for sure this attraction is free!
Sure, only 15 out of about 1500 state gifts received by state is on display here but they are interesting. In the glass displays are gifts from US President Bush (crystal bowl), a pair of silver goblets from Queen Elizabeth II and a silver boat from the late President Suharto of Indonesia. All priceless gifts presented to Singapore by her friends! Of particular interest for us is the niello cigarette box that the late King Bhumipol gave to Singapore in 2005. Singapore and Thailand are old friends indeed. Mel should know. He, like many young men spent some time during military service there!
If it is not “artefacts” or exhibits you are looking for, pose as if you are an invited guest in the Istana state room!
Now you certainly cannot sit on this chair though it is a replica. It is the chair and desk that dignitaries use to sign the Istana guest book. Some tourist attractions have visitor books, the Istana “collects” them too! If you ever want to look up who else (VIPs we mean) have visited our presidential palace, the iPad will let you “flip” through the pages. Our guide told us that not all the pages from the archives have been scanned yet – hey! The Istana has almost 150 years of history you will know…
Now you do not leave without a souvenir. Pick up a bookmark about the Istana and make sure you emboss Singapore’s state crest on it. Don’t abuse the crest though!
A few things to take note:
- Opening hours (10am-6pm)
- No large backpacks. Leave them outside on a rack
Usually not overly busy, you can just stroll right in and if there are little people you might get a personal “tour”! The park outside can also be nice place to spend some time in. Opposite the water pool from the gallery is the MyArts cafe and studio. It’s an artsy and green place to be!