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December 01, 2008

Istana Park Singapore

Istana Park Singapore

This 1.3-hectare Istana Park in the civic district was built in 1995. It is located along Orchard Road next to Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, opposite the Istana, official residence of Singapore's President.

Most visitors to Orchard Road who notice the Istana Park will not likely visit it as it is parked far away from Orchard Road's shopping centre. To access the Istana Park, you need to cross major roads like Orchard and Penang Roads which can be a great hurdle. If you come by the labyrinthine Dhoby Ghaut MRT, the underground entrance to the passageway that leads to Istana Park is difficult to find for casual passers-by.

Once you get there, the centrepiece attraction at the Istana Park must be the Festival Arch, an impressive collection of stainless steel columns that are magically lit at night. The Istana Park's Festival Arch stands tall on a shallow pond surrounded by well-maintained landscaped gardens.

If you look in the opposite across Orchard Road, you may just make out the resemblance to the Istana's front entrance gatepost and railings. Major J F A McNair drew inspiration from these gateposts and railings to create the design for the Istana Park.

The Festival Arch is the gateway to the Civic District, the city of Singapore's historical and cultural heart, that stretches from here in Orchard Road all the way to Marina South.

Next to the Istana Park's Festival Arch are two buldings. One is a tropical shelter that protects from heat during mid day visits and the other is a restaurant cum bar called 'Giraffe'.

A lotus pond is tucked to a corner of the Istana Park where visitors can relax on benches under shady foliage for a little peace and quiet.

Note that no skateboarding, cycling or in-line skating are allowed at the Istana Park for safety reasons.

Despite its central location along Orchard Road, the pedestrian traffic at Istana Park is fortunately way below that along the pedestrian mall next to Plaza Singapura, or event the Istana entrance. This is good news for park users who are looking to take a temporary break from their Orchard Road shopping and eating sprees.

Istana Park is indeed a rare gem of a park in the middle of bustling Orchard Road that provides an oasis of greenery.

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