In searching all over the web for a good place to over look all of Singapore, I could not find many locations that offered them for free. I am not referring to simply rooftop views. We are talking about 360° surround views of the island. Sure there are many rooftop hotel restaurants who a view to die for that would suit this definition. But you need to dine there or in the least have drinks there in order to gain access.
But why try to wriggle your way to such locations when there is a free one available? So it was pleasant surprise to find that the Ion shopping mall in the heart of Orchard road has an observatory that is free to access.
Yup. No more. As soon as anything is popular, commercial considerations seep… Access to Ion Sky is no longer free. Awww….. yeah we know. This link now explains how you can redeem tickets to get up there.
Located at the junction of Orchard road and Scotts road, this 55-floor building is both a mall and a luxury residential construct. Called Ion Sky, the observatory deck is on the top floor which is also home to the Salt grill and sky bar. At 218m, it towers over most other buildings in the Orchard area, so provides for unobstructed all around views of the red dot.
To access the observatory deck, simply get to the fourth floor of the mall. It is on the same floor as the Singapore Airlines service center. Look out for the concierge/information booth and next to it is Ion Art, a now empty area supposedly to exhibit well – art. I did not detect any sign of life in that sense as I walked by.
Now, you need to understand that the observatory deck is only open between 3-6pm every day. So no sunset views. That, is reserved for the residences and the diners. On special days such as the recent national day celebrations, the deck may be opened longer – I heard it was till 9:30pm on 9th August. Well all that’s changed with the shows they run in the afternoons. And they now limit you to spending only 45 minutes there… Not sure how they enforce that so need someone to tell us.
You also need to note that the observatory deck can be closed out from the public even during the above stated times if there are private events. Look out for these in their website: http://www.ionorchard.com/en/whats-on/item/259-ion-sky-events.html
The lift that is at one corner of Ion art takes you all the way up to the 55th floor in a matter of about 2 minutes. You can watch the progress on that little zig zag display on the button panel.
Turn to your right and the sloping walkway brings you to the actual viewing deck itself.
It is actually quite spacious and there are limited seating here. But who’s thinking about sitting down when you get the views here! Before I came up, I managed to speak with one of the ION concierge associates. He mentioned that the weekdays are usually not that busy. So, time your visit and take note of the opening hours. Which btw now is not free, could be even less busy?
Take a walk along the window panels to view Singapore in the different directions. Like a magnet, I gravitated toward the south facing section, looking yonder towards Marina Bay sands, its iconic “boat” on top of the 3 stacks sticking out quite uniquely along the skyline. The walkway continues all around the building, eventually ending up in the restaurant.
On the window panels are actually printed names of the places you can expect to see. The thing I noticed is that a large central part of Singapore is green – that would be the central catchment area – specifically the reservoirs. Tip : if you are using the phone camera, press your phone flat against the window to take the photo. It should remove most, if not all of the reflections from the glass.
The observatory deck is good for a about an hour of your time. If you happen to be shopping along Orchard road, it is a nice way to see Singapore’s panorama for free. The only thing is that you cannot be guaranteed is the great weather I had when I was here…
Enjoy the time here. It’s still worth the vist.
August 2016 (updated April 2018)