Istana

Istana, Singapore

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SOH KIEN PENG
By SOH KIEN PENG
National Day Dinner
Aug 2019
I came here on a number of occasions to attend the Chinese New Year dinner invited by the Prime Minister. This is the first time I came here for a National Day Dinner invited by the President. It was a great honor to be invited for such a banquet dinner where you can mingle with the President and her Cabinet Ministers including the Prime Minister himself. The buffet comprised Halal Malay, vegetarian and International Chinese and Indian cuisine generously catered by Marina Mandarin. There were so much appealing, mouthwatering and appetizing varieties of food that my stomach started to growl with gastric juices even before the dinner commenced at 8 pm. Among the dishes, I particularly like the Hakka Braised Pork Belly with Red Fermented Beancurd (contains nut), Strawberry Yuzu Entremets, the Pot Roast Grain-Fed Beef in Creamy Mushroom Sauce and Roast Garlic, 16 hours slow cook Veal Shank White Bean Cassoulet, Braised White Vermicelli with Clam and the Deep Fried Chicken Siew Mai. There were also carts with instant fried Goreng Pisang and Panipuri with Potato Chat and Tamarind Chutney. The food were meticulously prepared and the sumptuous dinner was one of high grade quality. But I still missed some of the good food as my stomach limit had reached. It was also a great time mixing with other grassroot leaders from other constituencies. Grassroots leaders are the pillars of the community forces that strengthen the bond between the government and the people. Under the banner of People's Association, Grassroots Leaders diligently organized activities to bond Singaporeans as one unified force and foster a strong link between the people and the various ministries. Through the grassroot channel, the general public can express their views or dissatisfaction with the government policies. Such democratic feature is part of our political culture and we had seen foreign delegates marveled at this community apparatus that work miraculously on the ground and frontline that immune us from the upheaval and chaos that we seen in other countries. This unique democratic apparatus is the software that reinforce democracy and operates behind the curtain that strengthen our cohesiveness. Tourists see only the hardware of this country but the software that delicately glue the people of this country is not so visibly from the outside. Such dinners hosted by the Prime Minister and the President is an appreciation to the many hard work put in by the community leaders to bind the country together as an united force. The Istana is thus a great place for such an appreciation dinners. The reward also include taking photos with our great leaders and our President. The fact that we are there shows that our hard work for the country is being appreciated and rewarded.

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SOH KIEN PENG
Singapore, Singapore6,369 contributions
I came here on a number of occasions to attend the Chinese New Year dinner invited by the Prime Minister. This is the first time I came here for a National Day Dinner invited by the President.

It was a great honor to be invited for such a banquet dinner where you can mingle with the President and her Cabinet Ministers including the Prime Minister himself. The buffet comprised Halal Malay, vegetarian and International Chinese and Indian cuisine generously catered by Marina Mandarin.

There were so much appealing, mouthwatering and appetizing varieties of food that my stomach started to growl with gastric juices even before the dinner commenced at 8 pm.

Among the dishes, I particularly like the Hakka Braised Pork Belly with Red Fermented Beancurd (contains nut), Strawberry Yuzu Entremets, the Pot Roast Grain-Fed Beef in Creamy Mushroom Sauce and Roast Garlic, 16 hours slow cook Veal Shank White Bean Cassoulet, Braised White Vermicelli with Clam and the Deep Fried Chicken Siew Mai. There were also carts with instant fried Goreng Pisang and Panipuri with Potato Chat and Tamarind Chutney. The food were meticulously prepared and the sumptuous dinner was one of high grade quality.

But I still missed some of the good food as my stomach limit had reached.

It was also a great time mixing with other grassroot leaders from other constituencies. Grassroots leaders are the pillars of the community forces that strengthen the bond between the government and the people. Under the banner of People's Association, Grassroots Leaders diligently organized activities to bond Singaporeans as one unified force and foster a strong link between the people and the various ministries.

Through the grassroot channel, the general public can express their views or dissatisfaction with the government policies. Such democratic feature is part of our political culture and we had seen foreign delegates marveled at this community apparatus that work miraculously on the ground and frontline that immune us from the upheaval and chaos that we seen in other countries. This unique democratic apparatus is the software that reinforce democracy and operates behind the curtain that strengthen our cohesiveness. Tourists see only the hardware of this country but the software that delicately glue the people of this country is not so visibly from the outside.

Such dinners hosted by the Prime Minister and the President is an appreciation to the many hard work put in by the community leaders to bind the country together as an united force. The Istana is thus a great place for such an appreciation dinners. The reward also include taking photos with our great leaders and our President.

The fact that we are there shows that our hard work for the country is being appreciated and rewarded.
Written August 14, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

SOH KIEN PENG
Singapore, Singapore6,369 contributions
Friends
This year, I am again invited to the Prime Minister's Chinese New Year and Prime Minister's Garden Party on 14 and 17 Feb 2019 at this Istana. Together with other grassroots leaders, we entered the Istana from the gate at Sophia Road near St Margaret Primary School. Security was tight and we had to undergo a thorough body and baggage screening before proceeding to the main tentage area where the buffet dinner is being served.

It was a crowded event with grassroots leaders, Ministers and the grassroots advisors from the various constituencies gathered here to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

One interesting feature of this event is the opportunity to taste some of the best hawker food from the various hawker or food stalls in Singapore. For example, this year, we had the opportunity to taste the braised duck rice from the coffee shop at Woodlands Industrial Park E, the Otah from Defu Lane, the Power Nasi Lemak from Boon Lay hawker centre, the Rojak from Clementi food stall, the Teochew Fish Ball noodle from Bedok North, etc. These hawker foods are the creative products of our local Singaporeans and formed a proud heritage culture of Singapore.

Many inherited their secret recipes from their forefathers and make a name in the specialty hawker food list. I am proud of our hawker food and strongly support their challenge to be listed in the UNESCO listing as they are uniquely reflective of Singapore food heritage and culture. They came from the People, live by the People and serve the People.

The queue for the departing shuttle buses conveying the attendees to the main gate was rather long and I decided to take a stroll to the entrance. While on my way out, I had the opportunity to appreciate the landscape of the Istana. Surrounding the main Istana building was an extensive greenery that resemble a well manicured golf field. But apparently, it was not a golf field a field studded with trees, shrub and gardens making the atmosphere rather tranquil and serene. I was impressed with a small little Japanese garden landscape somewhere in the middle of the whole Istana. I stood there for a while to enjoy the peaceful silence and the beautiful flowers that grow among the shrub. Not far away, I could see the strikingly whitewashed British architectural designed colonial buildings studded among the greenery.

This tranquil and serene greenery of Istana contrasted with the busy and bustling street of Orchard Road and resembles an oasis in this concrete desert stretch of Singapore. It is a great moment to enjoy this lovely moment with nature as I wandered around the compound of this Istana.
Written February 17, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Nishchal S
Singapore, Singapore254 contributions
Family
Yes, consider yourself lucky if you get a chance to visit ISTANA, as it's open for public on very few selected days of the year. Same can be checked on the official website.

Location - very conveniently located between Dhoby Ghaut and Orchard... Can be reached by any mode of transport very easily.
A humble request to Kindly use public transport to keep our city green.

Entrance looks impressive with two big metal gates.
All arrangements are well planned and managed. Kindly avoid all restrictive items as you got to go through security check and scans.
Do bring water and eatables, umbrellas, as inside may not find too many options. But for sure got huge spaces to allow you to unwind and have picnic.
From entrance it's a Long curvy road walk to the main building. Along side you will experience nice big green spaces, lake, swans, dense woods, etc...to keep the walk interesting.
As its not a regular public visit place.... So don't kindly expect too many support facilities. But basic facilities are well taken care of, though on temporary basis.
Main building is the highlight... A beautiful piece of architecture, very well conserved.

Will advise to opt for guided tour as in addition to general info and history, it gives insights to many not so common known info about the place. Got to pre- register on first come first served basis.... But worth it.
Especially very good for our upcoming future generation. It's a 45 mins duration tour... And you can continue to further explore the building on your own if you like.
Only certain area is open for public... Just to give some insight without any compromise on other day to day activities.

Photography is not allowed inside main building. Everywhere else feel free to capture the moments and memories.

If lucky enough, you may happen to see / meet THE PRESIDENT.... an awesome experience in itself.

So don't miss it at any excuse.... As you never know which future would be President get inspired, during the visit...

Written February 17, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Qian Y
23 contributions
Family
We visited during CNY open day, the weather was HOT! With prior experience, we brought enough water, sunblock, mosquito spray, hats and everything with us. Reached around 9 when the queue has not started being crazy, took us about 15 min to enter the park. But the kids were complaining there's NOTHING MUCH to see! Running under the sun seemed stupid. We did some stamping thing, kids played the small tiny slides for a few minutes. They probably will not remember they've visited this place when they're young, only photos will tell the story. Go if you have time and go EARLY MORNING to avoid the queue. Skip it, you won't miss much either.
Written February 13, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

heristage
Singapore, Singapore40 contributions
Solo
Istana is only opened to the public for 5 days annually from 0830 to 1800. Since I was free on one of the rare days (Deepavali on 6 Nov 2018), I decided to head down to take a look.

Take note - try to be early because queues would start to form from afternoon onwards. For Singaporeans/PR, entrance is free but it would cost foreigners S$2. Do remember to bring your NRIC or passport to provide your identity.

Once you're in you would need to walk ~400m to the Istana main building. Along the way, you would see and experience a vast of green space rife typical Singaporean plants. It is highly recommended to take a slow stroll to enjoy the peaceful greenery. However, do remember your sunscreen and umbrella.

After you reach the main building you have 3 main choices for activities - entry into the Istana the main building only, entry + guided tour of the main building and guided tour of the greenery in the green space mentioned above. The 1-hour guided tours are limited so do remember to head down early if you want to get a slot. Each tour is S$4 should you be interested. If you just want to head into the main building, it would be S$2. All of the money received would be donated to the President's Challenge.

As I did not manage to get a slot for the guided tour, I just entered the building to take a look. It has 3 main wings replete with gifts from ambassadors from other countries that you can slowly take in. The highlight for me was the President's reception room where the President hosted courtesy calls - it was a scenery that I had saw on the TV previously.

Overall, it was a pleasant visit.
Written November 6, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

rohanpillai1
Raleigh, NC413 contributions
Family
The official residence of the President and the working office of the Prime Minister. The place is only open for 4 or 5 days in a year for the public. Certainly one of the most beautiful places in Singapore. The lake, the high trees and the beautiful landscape certainly makes the view worth watching.
Written October 29, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

KGB777
Singapore, Singapore41,727 contributions
Solo
Came here today for the CNY opening. It's only open a few times a year and I've never managed to see it before. Long queues to get in and even longer queues to visit the main building interior. I only saw the grounds as the queues to go inside were just ridiculous. All very pretty and well worth a visit if you happen to be in Singapore when it's open to the public.
Written February 9, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Walter241
Toronto, Ontario Canada84 contributions
Solo
It is a rare opportunity to get to go onto the grounds of the President's residence in Singapore. I was there during Chinese New Year and this was one of those rare occasions. The line ups to get in were quite long however they moved quickly. Security was tight (as it should be) to get in but once on the property security was not visible except for the residence itself. We were allowed to see the visitor portion of the inside of the residence and many of the gifts to Singapore from countries around the world were on display. The property is large and could easily accommodate all who wanted to be there - some coming mainly to use it as a day for picnicking in a beautiful park setting. There were also a couple of tents with children's activities and wildlife conservation promotion. If you ever happen to be in Singapore on one of those special occasions you should see this place. I believe that it is also opened on the Singapore National day - 9 August.
Written March 21, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

SOH KIEN PENG
Singapore, Singapore6,369 contributions
Friends
Every Chinese New Year, the Prime Minister (PM) will invite Grassroots Leaders to his Chinese New Year's Garden Party hosted by him at the Istana. The President, the Prime Minister, his cabinet members including most of the Members of the Parliament will be present during the party to mingle with the crowd, take photos with them and enjoy the good foods catered for the event.

I was one of these Grassroots Leaders invited for such occasion almost every year. Beside having my sumptuous dinner here, I also managed to have a glimpse of Istana as I roamed around her compound. I met the fully attired guards in smart uniform on duty at the entrance. I saw the artillery gun donated by the Japanese imperialists to the British colonialists when they surrendered in 1945. I saw the mini-golf course, the beautiful and well manicured garden landscapes and the many mansion buildings built by the British for their governor from the East Indies Company.

I wondered if I would have the opportunity to be invited into the Istana if it was occupied by the British colonialists or the Japanese imperialists. Istana has witnessed the change in hands from the British to the Japanese and back to the British before it was eventually occupied by our first President Yusof Ishak after the British allowed us self-governance in 1959.

The British architectural style of mansion building conjures many images of the many buildings of European styles left by the French in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British in Melaka, Jakarta, Yangon; by the Americans in Philippines, Okinawa, Calcutta, etc, etc. The era of imperialism is over but the peril of being dominated and occupied by another foreign forces is not reduced.

The destiny of this island depends on her people. The will to survive and excel and not to be dominated by any foreign powers is important to a fairly new nation like Singapore. To every Singaporean, it is our desire that Istana shall forever be occupied by leaders elected by our people. The fate of Istana is the fate of Singapore and as Grassroots Leaders, we are here not only to celebrate the festive season but also to testify and witness that the masters of Istana are our great leaders not that of any foreign powers and we will continue to work with our leaders to preserve this status quo.
Written March 1, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Peggy S
134 contributions
Solo
Tips:
1. This pompous ceremony, lasting for about 30 minutes, is held only on the first Sunday of the month
2. You will not find info about this at the Istana website, but from youtube
3. Arrive at about 5.15pm if you wish to get front row, unobstructed view. It starts at about 6pm.
4. The event takes place right in front of the gates of the Istana, along Orchard Road
5. I am particularly enchanted by the tall, suave-looking military policemen (MP; they must be above 1.68m I heard; in green uniform) swirling, twirling, throwing their guns in unison or canon. Oh, how they flex those muscles! On a more serious note, do you tourists know that Singaporean men have to go through grueling 2 years' conscription? For those posted to be MPs, all they do day in and out is probably to learn this gun-dancing choreography. Envious? I am not sure.
Written November 5, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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