I actually did not realise that there was an open house at the Istana today, 30 July 2016. I happened to walk pass the place and saw that it was open to the public for visiting and there was no queue so we thought, why not?
I have always been curious to visit the Istana when there’s an open house event but I could never bother to queue. Our timing today was beyond perfect.
The Istana (Malay for “Palace”) is the official residence and office of the President of Singapore and it is also where the President receives and entertains state guests. The Prime Minister also has a working office here.
We were greeted by a huge lawn as soon as we stepped onto the premise. I knew that the Istana grounds is huge but I didn’t realise how much space there was inside until now.
It was a good 15~20 minutes or so walk before you even reach the gate to the villa grounds. Past the gate, there was another huge lawn. It’s quite unbelievable to see so much land and greenery on a single property given how land scarce we are in Singapore.
There was also a tour available (S$2 for Singaporeans and PRs/S$4 for foreigners) for the Istana building itself but unfortunately, we were too late and we didn’t manage to get inside. Oh well, hopefully there is a next time.
I was particularly surprised by the variety of plants within the Istana grounds. It almost looks like a mini Botanical Gardens in there. It feels like a conservation of all the various plant species that are native to Singapore as well.
There was also a small area that was dedicated to the cultivation of the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchids, the national flower of Singapore. It was obvious that there was a lot of care and attention put on those orchids because they are massive in terms of the height of the plant. Every one of them were taller than me (I’m 1.6 m/ 5″ 2)! The potted ones that I usually see are barely taller than my knees.
All in all, it was an interesting detour of the day to visit the Istana grounds. I’d recommend a visit if you have never been in there before. It’s free for all Singaporeans and PRs, just make sure that you have your NRIC on hand for checks at the door. For foreigners, it’s S$2 and it goes to a charity fund.
The next Istana open house is on 29 October 2016, from 8.30 am – 6.00 pm. Check their official Facebook page for the latest update: https://www.facebook.com/PresidentsChallenge/.