The grand, whitewashed, neoclassical home of Singapore's president, set in 16 hectares of grounds, was built by the British between 1867 and 1869 as Government House, and is open to visitors just five times a year. Check the website to confirm exact dates. Only on these days will you get the chance to stroll past the nine-hole golf course, through the beautiful terraced gardens and into some of the reception rooms. Bring your passport and get here early; queues build quickly.

The rest of the time you can visit the Istana Heritage Gallery across Orchard Rd or glance through the heavily guarded gates.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Singapore attractions

1. Emerald Hill Road

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Take time out from your shopping to wander up frangipani-scented Emerald Hill Rd, graced with some of Singapore's finest terrace houses. Special mentions…

2. Orchard Road

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Famous by name, Orchard Rd was once lined with nutmeg and pepper plantations. Today it's the domain of Singapore's elite and well-heeled tourists, lured…

3. Istana Entrance Gateway

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The heavily guarded gates to Istana, home of Singapore's president. Changing of Guards Ceremony, a throwback to the colonial British era, happens here…

4. Istana Heritage Gallery

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If your visit to Singapore doesn't coincide with one of the five days per year the Istana opens to the public (or you don't have time to spend hours…

5. Little India Arcade


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6. Cathay Gallery


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7. Indian Heritage Centre

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Delve into the origins and heritage of Singapore's Indian community at this S$12 million state-of-the-art museum. Divided into five themes, its hundreds…

8. Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

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Little India's most colourful, visually stunning temple is dedicated to the ferocious goddess Kali, depicted wearing a garland of skulls, ripping out the…