The highlight of the visit is the Istana Main Building which consists of a central 3-storey tower with 2-storey side wings. The building has 6 function rooms used for ceremonial and entertainment purposes. The office of the President and his staffs are also located within this building.
You might notice that the flag flown on top of the Istana is not the national bi-coloured (red and white) flag. The standard used by the President of Singapore is a modification of the national flag. The crescent and the stars are bigger and centred on a field of red. The standard is flown at the Istana from 8 am to 6 pm, or until the President has left for his private residence. For an entrance fee of $2, visitors could tour selected function rooms in the Istana building and view a special display of gifts presented to the President and the Prime Minister.
At the back of the Istana compound is the Victoria Pond with a statue of Queen Victoria. The statue was a gift from the Chinese community to the Colonial government in the Jubilee Year (1889) of Her Majesty’s rule, as a memento of their loyal affections and gratitude for the benefit of her rule. There is a huge field between the Swan Pond and Edinburgh Road. I wonder if this is part of the nine-hole golf course in Istana.
There is a very big carpark on the edge of the compound between the Main Gate and the Center Gate. The carpark looks like a typical one in some old army camp. Perhaps it is used for workers or lower rank visitors. At the back of the carpark is a toilet.
The Istana Grounds is just like a small botanical garden. There are more than 70 tree species and numerous plant species found. A few nutmeg and Clove trees still grow in the grounds of the Istana; reminiscent of its past as a plantation site.