Istana Woodneuk

Easily one of Singapore’s largest private residences in the late 19th century and early 20th century, Istana Woodneuk was one of the two royal palaces owned by Johor Sultan Abu Bakar ibni Daing Ibrahim (1833-1895), 21st Sultan of Johor and was well-known as “The Father of Modern Johor”. Friendly to both British Empire and Qing Empire, Sultan Abu Bakar was credited for the development of Johor towards the end of the 19th century.

Istana Woodneuk is located on a small hill bounded by present-day Holland Road and Tyersall Road. After a century of abandonment, its surroundings are covered by thick vegetation; the house itself is in ruins. As if living in a lost world of its own, the place is out of bounds to outsiders and is not charted on any modern maps.

Istana Woodneuk, or simply Woodneuk House, had long been confused with Istana Tyersall, which was located on another small hill not far away from Woodneuk.

It all began with the Tyersall House. It was a majestic house built by William Napier (1804-1879) on a piece of 60-acre land beside the Botanic Gardens. Napier was the first lawyer of Singapore and founder of the Singapore Free Press, and had Napier Road named after him. He was also Abu Bakar’s legal advisor. The adjacent Tyersall Road, meanwhile, was named after Tyersall House.

In the 1860s, Napier sold his land to Abu Bakar, who had just taken the role of Temenggong from his father in 1862 and wanted to maintain a presence in Singapore. The Tyersall House, however, was destroyed by a fire decades later in 1890. By then, Abu Bakar has proclaimed himself as the Sultan of Johor (in 1885). He decided to build a new mansion, named Istana Tyersall, to replace the demolished Tyersall House.

The Johor Sultan hired Wong Ah Fook, famous early Chinese contractor and entrepreneur who founded the city of Johor Bahru in 1855 with the Sultan’s father Temenggong Daing Ibrahim, to build the palace. It was designed with the most extravagant ornaments, fitted with western-styled furniture and powered with electricity, an incredible feat during that era.

It was said that the Sultan’s first wife Sultana Fatimah was the overall in-charge of the design and planning of Istana Tyersall. However, she did not live to see the completion of the grand palace as she passed away in 1891.

Istana Tyersall was completed in 1892, and had a grand opening attended by the Governor of the Straits Settlements Sir Cecil Clementi Smith (1840-1916), Malay royalties and many prominent Chinese businessmen.

In an eerie coincidence, Istana Tyersall was also burnt down by a fire, possibly due to a faulty electrical wire, on 10th September 1905. By then, Sultan Abu Bakar had already passed away for a decade.

In 1990, the Singapore government issued a compulsory acquisition of a dilapidated Istana Tyersall at a compensation of $25 million to the descendants of Sultan Abu Bakar. The house was razed to the ground by end of November that year.

Istana Woodneuk, on the other hand, was built for the Sultan’s fourth wife Sultana Khadijah. The blue-roof palace was just as magnificent, consisting of the main building with two smaller houses by its side, possibly for the accommodation of servants or horses. Another small white building was located 100m away down the main path, and might be used as a guard house.

Istana Woodneuk’s owner Sultana Khadjah died in this grand house in 1904. Before she died, the Sultana sold the property to Sultan Abu Bakar’s son Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar (1873-1959), who rebuilt the house in 1930 for his third wife Scotland-born Sultana Helen Ibrahim (1889-1978). The dilapidated house as well as the land still belong to the royal family of Johor.

Today, the house is deemed structurally unsafe. Its iconic blue-roof had collapsed, its railings brown with rust, and plants had found their ways and thrived in the cracks and gaps on the walls. It is a real sad sight of a century-old palace with a glorious past.

Read more about other Istana in Singapore at A Forgotten Past – The Last Royal Palace of Singapore

Published: 10 October 2011

Updated: 25 January 2013

163 Responses to Istana Woodneuk

  1. Darren says:

    Hi, May i ask how do we get there?
    And Nice photos taken =D

    • Hi Darren, the “Sultan Gate” near Botanic Gardens was already locked up, so I won’t encourage trespassing from there. It’s a private property after all.
      Another hidden route is though the thick vegetation directly opposite the junction of Dempsey Road and Holland Road. Please bear in mind this method has certain degree of danger, thus I won’t encourage too…

      • hmm for your information the path nearest that leads to Istana is trek facing opposite the road that you see the sign Dempsey Road , just below the bridge but near to drainage nearing a bus stop you cant miss it , took me 5mins+ get up there, the building still up ther, foreign workers are doin some fixings , as for other parts of it will be Botanica Condo , wasted theres a long trek jungle next to Gallop Rd that is even more interesting next to Arbat House & that ones interesting ,so many places to explore still 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree since it has already been covered in police tape.

    • ahchiik pndora says:

      at holland road

  2. Darren says:

    Alright =) Thanks alot for the info!
    Best regards !

  3. NS says:

    Hi, is the place still accessible now? The last time I went there it was but there was construction work along the side. Anyone guarding the place?

    • There’s no one guarding the place, probably because the main gate (at Botanic Garden) is locked up now and it is difficult to access through the thick vegetation and steep slopes.

      • dont in anyway climb over big gate behind as many cars are passing, as for alternate paths refer to my comment above , i have to be discrete but you wil find it ,go earlier in the day to get idea wheres the spot ,take care i got more places now i see i must explore, if out of bounds better be safe ,dont tresspass ,take care

    • Anonymous says:

      No however it is covered in police tape as of 2016 now.

  4. Nick says:

    A bit off topic here but a few years ago, while I was jogging around the Yishun dam I stumbled on a path (used by contruction vehicles) along the reservior (towards the direction of the golf course).

    I joggled along the path and came upon a colonial house (I think it is not there anymore).

    Do you have any info on the house? Personally I felt that it could have been a rich man’s house cos it was nicely facing the reservior.

  5. 博物馆华文义工 says:

    I was searching on Istana Woodneuk and came upon your post, I made a trip down to the place a few days ago, and I’m glad it’s still around! (as there were some news online on construction work that is ongoing around it). There is indeed construction work that’s ongoing now, but so far the house has not been affected yet.

    It is indeed no longer possible to go in via the gates near Botanic Gardens. To head to Istana Woodneuk, you would have to cut through the trees, the slopes, the grass plantation…(enter from the bus stop opposite Dempsey). It’s not easy, but do-able! However, please ask a friend along as it is quite dangerous to be going there alone.. Please wear long pants and covered shoes when attempting this route, my legs are badly bitten by insects/scratched by grass as I was wearing shorts…

  6. Z.Sham says:

    You do a great job, keep it up! I like this article..

  7. Sean Tan says:

    I have climbed into and explored Istana Woodneuk before during my student days with my friends.It was both a chilling and most memorable experience and for many years, I have always wondered about the history of the mansion. Today, I finally found my answer on your website, but I am very keen to find out more. How did u trace the history of this great mansion. Feel free the reply me via my email. Very much appreciated!

  8. tinesh says:

    whr is this ? in singapore ?

  9. tinesh says:

    okay (: thanks .. is it still thr ???

  10. Hey, I’d like to visit Istana Woodneuk in a few days. I was wondering, how long does it take to walk/trek to the Istana if I were to enter from the bus stop opposite Dempsey. Also, I was wondering how thick or how high are the grasses. Would appreciate if you could reply me asap, thanks 🙂

  11. Was it easy to find your way in? Do you just trek in straight or..?

  12. mikyo says:

    is that place still available?

  13. Hannah says:

    I am going to singapore this summer and have done quite a lot of exploration in the UK, but was wondering what the penalties might be like if you were to be caught trespassing here or in any of the other properties? and have you ever been caught?Thanks!

  14. Steve says:

    Hi, Any body intending to go and visit this area? I wish to get some company to go together.

    Kindly sms me via 81972355.



  15. Alex says:

    Hey Alex here, Im part of some guys/gals that are interested in exploring Singapore rich history and forgotten past.. For those interested in joining us, drop me a text.. 94886112..

  16. Win says:

    Has anyone gone to visit this beautiful enchantment the past couple of weeks? Am visiting this place this coming weekend.

  17. Roland says:

    Sultan of Johore……a class of his own…… long live the Sultan.

  18. Nathan says:

    What a great find! – love finding derelict places to explore which seems rare in Singapore. Is anyone up for exploring this place? I’m new to Singapore and would like to find some like minded people to visit the place if anyone is up for it!

    sms: 84207103

  19. Jeff says:

    HI! Just visited Istana Woodneuk last week, for the second time this year. The place is still accessible over the fence on the left of the main gate, though the small side gate on the right is now padlocked (it wasn’t in March – I could waltz right in.)

    The house is still intact (a wonder in itself!), but it seems some work had been done on the building since March. One of the rooms had its door smashed in (workboot prints on the remains of the door) and the furniture was dragged out and heaped in a corner.

    I wonder if the authorities have some plan for the building?

  20. cardelo says:

    I just visited this place earlier this month. The fastest way is from Holland Road, at the bus stop opposite Dempsey Road. A path is barely visible among the trees, to the left of the bus stop (if you are facing the road). It’s about a 15 minute trek up a steep slope. If you are exiting from the same spot, keep left (as the path branches off to the right to a slightly more difficult path that leads to the other side of the bus stop). Tried walking through the construction site to see if there’s an easier way out but was stopped by the workers

  21. Oldman says:

    Just curious, to those who visited the place this year, is the old abandoned Jaguar still there?

  22. toddrone says:

    All these years born at nearby Gleneagles hospital and raised in Holland rd area, I passed by that eerie stretch of Holland road and Botanic gardens since childhood, only to hear old wives tale of a huge istana in that “forest”. Your pictures laid to rest to my wild imaginations and I admire and appreciate your explorations and historical facts so that the next generations can at least, read about Singapore’s forgotten past. Thank you.

  23. EMF says:

    Heard that the government is extending Botanic Gardens towards the forest. It came out in.the papers today. Not sure if they are going to demolish
    Istana Woodneuk though

  24. Ng Tong Peng says:

    Thank You for the story, for ten years I was station at Tanglin Camp opposite this Istana Woodneuk. I learn that it belongs to Johore Royalty. I also had a colleague who live in one of the house on this property. However, she never reveal to us how she come to live there or her relation to this property. Now I understood this part of history.

  25. EMF says:

    Is this still Malaysia land or has it beem given to Singapore?

  26. changkh says:

    is this still there?

  27. There’s an ongoing construction at the junction of Holland Road and Pierce Road, which is directly opposite of the site of Istana Woodneuk.
    Not sure if they are developing a private condominium or an office tower there, but probably next time the residents at the highest levels are able to catch a clear view of the ruined palace

  28. Barnabas says:

    I’ve always seen the Gates to the residence but never knew that Istana Woodneuk was within.

  29. May says:

    Hi, I would like to visit this place. I just want to check – is the location of the “hidden” entrance at ( 1.307898,103.810405 ) (coordinates for google map) ? Thank you!

  30. Ellie says:

    What a great site. Thank you so much for all the information!
    Has anyone approached whatever department is responsible for planning and/or heritage and enquired about the Government of Singapore’s intention for this historic building? As long as it’s still standing it might not be too late to preserve this gem of heritage.
    As an Australian child who had the privilege of living in Singapore and exploring (often via the monsoon drains) shrines and visiting kampongs alone in the 1950s, Singapore was the most wonderful place to live. It would be wonderful to maintain this gem of the past relating to the Sultan of Johor.

  31. Xal says:

    Really interested to check out this site 🙂
    Gonna do some research first though.

  32. Ng Tong Peng says:

    May suggest to leave this place alone. Wait till development, maybe a heritage park. It is still private property. We have to respect them.

  33. John Henesy says:

    I was based in Tyersall Army Camp in 1955 -57. Is it still there? and where is it in relation to the old house? I am visiting Singapore later this year and would like to visit the old camp.

    • Ng Tong Peng says:

      Never know there is Tyersall Army Camp. Opposite there was formerly the Dempsy Camp. Supply me detail and will check. Contact me when in Singapore and I am happy we both tour the area. Nice knowing You, Regards.

  34. John Henesy says:

    Ng Tong Peng and Chang, thank you for your responses. If you leave Holland Road and go down Tyersall Avenue for about half a mile, the Tyersall Army camp was on the left. I am 77 now and my visit will depend upon medican insurance requirements for a heart condition. I have another incentive to visit though as my daughter is currently working and living in Singapore. We used to play football and cricket at Tanglin. There was also a running track for athletics. . I think it is a golf course now?

  35. Ng Tong Peng says:

    The golf course was formerly part of Singapore Army. This is on the right side going from Holland Rd towards the City. Now is a commercial place. The church still there.

  36. John Henesy says:

    Is the church the Catholic church? If it is then I used to attend mass there. It was next to one of the football pitches. Every Sunday morning I used to walk from Tyersall camp to the church at Tanglin. From memory, it took about 15 minutes.

  37. Ng Tong Peng says:

    According to Google Map, this is St Geogre’s Church. The golf, the Royal Tanglin Golf course. I wish you good health.

  38. John Henesy says:

    I have found the area where the Tyersall army camp was. It is Tyersall Park and I have located it on Google Earth. It is now waste ground and jungle. It is on the left hand side of Tyersall Avenue. There was also an entrance gate on Holland Road. Googling ‘Tyersall Park Singapore’ brings up a website with a Google map of Singapore, then entering ‘Tyersall Park’ brings a close-up of the area.
    I returned to the UK in 1957. I have no idea when the camp ceased to exist.

  39. John Henesy says:

    The Tyersall camp was mainly occupied by the Royal Signal’s but also contained a small unit of Royal Army Pay Corps. The whole camp was surrounded by chain link fencing and barbed wire. Within this, a perimeter road ran all around the camp. The main entrance, with guard post was on Tyersall Avenue. The barrack rooms and other buildings were inside the perimeter road and went up the hillsides. The cook-house and NAAFI were outside the perimeter road and cllose to Tyersall Avenue. The Pay Corps offices were outside the perimeter fence and towards Holland Road. There was another entrance to these offices from Holland Road. I am going to try and get some old maps of Singapore which provide details of the camp. I can then superimpose this onto the Google Earth map to see where everything is/was I was very impressed by how much work you have done on the military camps in Singapore. I had no idea there were so many. There was also an army shooting range at Bukit Tima, did that count?.

  40. John Mullins says:

    Look like the Istana Woodneuk might be demolished as a part of the Botanic Gardens Extension, such a shame that an historical landmark such as this may no be preserved as a part of that project:

    • Azreen says:

      Not likely if Istana Woodneuk stands on a land that still belongs to the Johor Royalties. Time will tell I guess.

      • John Mullins says:

        The whole property has been acquired by the Singapore Government. The extension of the gardens has now been delayed until 2016 but will happen, the only question left is if the Istana itself will be saved. It does not appear on the plans for the new gardens that were posted at the link above (which has now been taken down). Here is the latest link I could find that confirms the same:

  41. hello… anyone can accompany me to Istana Woodneuk to take photos during this week ? Because it’s rather dangerous to go alone… I think it’s a great subject for my school final project =) Please add me in facebook, Shawn Tay Zhi Qiang

  42. Mohd Firdaus says:

    When to searched that place twice recently , it seems like i can’t find tht place . Any knows and kind enough to guide us to that place please do sms me at 90108884 . Not trying to up for some stupid things or bad business but just wanna have some photosnap at that beautiful place . So yea do sms me aight

  43. George Kane says:

    I lived in Istana Woodneuk from late 1973 – late 1975 with my wife and 3 kids. A friend played polo for the Sultan of Johor, was staying on the 2nd floor, invited us to occupy the downstairs side rooms, which we converted to bedrooms. The entrance hall was huge, living room was huge. Along the way we inherited a couple of former polo ponies, which is how I learned to ride a horse. There were around 50 acres on the istana grounds, and another 50 acres adjoining, near Taman Nakhoda. British Army HQ was on the opposite side of Holland Road, in the Dempsey area. Above ground swimming pool, scorpions under the dining table, snakes in the pantry – ah, for the good old days!

    • Shafiee Amir says:

      hai George. i wish to get more detail of ISTANA Woodneuk as u have stayed there before. actually there is a dispute over this property yet to be claim. would u mind call me at 81186246. also for those whom knows much regards about this Istana, do beep me. thank you.

      • George Kane says:

        Shafiee – the property belonged to the Johor sultan – Ismail at the time, father of the present sultan. I cannot imagine there’s anything I can do to help. My email is george8080122gmail if you want to contact me. George

  44. John Mullins says:

    Hello George, what an amazing experience it must have been to have lived with you family at Istana Woodneuk. Do you have any pictures from that time that you can share on this group?

    • George Kane says:

      Oops .. John. I have not been on this site in a while – negligent of me, as I am deeeeply into Singapore nostalgia. I shall monitor diligently in the future. Am looking through family photos. Will return soon.

  45. John Mullins says:

    Great George, look forward to it!

  46. Irwan Raman says:

    Hi.Anybody who wants to take pictures,videos of this historical place before it’s gone for good?Do tag me along,ok.-Irwan Raman..

  47. Lin says:

    Just visited the place today. The rain last night made the trek a lot more difficult due the mud, but also makes a really atmospheric experiecne with all the water leaking everywhere. Do be careful with the stairs, it’s rotting already.

    Botanic gardens is building an “educational forest” near the main gate area. Wonder if they have plans for the building too?

    • Chang says:

      care to share how to reach the place?

      • Lin says:

        I trekked straight uphill from the Holland road bus stop, which puts me in a clearing near the building. Won’t recommend the path though, it involves a few really steep and muddy slopes. There’s got to be some safer route up.

      • Lin says:

        Hmm actually now that I think about it, the vegetation for the place I’ve entered is less dense compared to the rest of the areas. I believe I took the same trail mention by the others ^. It’s just a bit overgrown that’s all.

  48. Irwan Raman says:

    94836879-Irwan Raman..

  49. Miko says:

    Oh and around what time did you enter the area? Mr Chang & Lin do you remember as its not advisable go in mornings ,dont forget there seems to be some work daytime ,we hate if people get found out , though there seems someone is taking care of that back gate ,near the road ,nearer to Nakhoda residence ? so for your own safety best daytime dont enter . i was a member of Singapore Paranormal Investigators in 2004-2006 we went this area few times but through the British type of gate near Tyersall Ave , someone made a hole there , but actually there are nicer properties elsewhere Dunearn Rd ,far down Gallopr Rd that Former French Embassy has been revamped you saw it ??

  50. EN says:

    Hi George Kane,
    If I’m not wrong, your family were the one that
    Me and my other cousins met somewhere in late
    1975 ( i was only 10yrs old) and for couples of times and I used to play with
    Your kids around yr huge man made swimming pool
    and if I’m not mistaken your beautiful wife(Sonnia Kane)
    used to hv this flower arrangement in an old brass iron which
    catch my eyes which till today I hv same arrangement as one of
    my favorite.Kindly do contact me @ the given email add.Thanks

    • George Kane says:

      Good day, EN – Holy cow…. yes, I’m the person you recall. Sorry about not responding earlier – I only just now saw your comment. Who are you? Can you please email me at I have been living in Singapore since those days – in 1975.

    • George Kane says:

      Good day, En – Yes – I’m that person. Perhaps I’m a little inexperienced at this as I don’t see an email address for you. Would like to find out more about you and how you happened to visit us at the Istana. My email is, phone 9825-9708. Regards

    • George Kane says:

      Hello, EN – I tried contacting you, but perhaps the message didn’t arrive. I am the very same person. Please phone me at 9825-9708. You are not related to or know of Dave Moody and Katherine Yeap from Ipoh, do you?

  51. Alifyana says:

    im planing to go today. is it safe during the day.. can anynone recomend me on how to enter and wat time is the safe time

    • chris says:

      are you interested to go? we can hit up

    • jayzee says:

      its not that safe at day time could have bhanglas work on that bldg ,u can try better on a holiday when no1 is around but stick to hours after 5+ at least before it gets dark n you shortest route in read comments a this site ,never try to climb back gate ,the reaction time if a car comes will not leave you time to react and hide lo ,so best you take my advice wasted i should have discovered this place in 2002

  52. Pierce says:

    anyone gg ??Contact me pls..

  53. Ng Tong Peng says:

    Please do not go, that is private property.

  54. bsmart2013 says:

    Visited with friends today – what an amazing place!

  55. jayzee says:

    around what time u went bsmart2013 ?

  56. bsmart2013 says:

    Arrived late morning 😊

  57. Soo Min says:

    How’s the place now ? Got construction going on ar ?

  58. ian says:

    Visited the place a few days ago.

  59. Minahdrama says:

    Thank you for tho information shared on this post. Managed to find it today and was sad to see a group a teens (5 in total) vandalise the place with spray paint of upside down crosses and the illuminati. Manage to capture photos of the culprits.

  60. Chang says:

    Finally went there today after my first post in 2013. Didn’t see any construction workers today but met a total of 3 different groups of photographers during my time there. Based on the post from Miko, I followed the upslope path with and reached the metal road in less than 10 minutes from the bus stop. From there, I can already see the istana to my right. It is definitely easy if you follow this path as there are many other paths along that stretch traveled by others. Going back would be a little more difficult due to the downslope. Try to remember the path you came because I got confused with the other path midway and ended up in a different location from where I started, though nearer to the bus stop.

    Turn Left. If you are just going to the istana, simply follow the metal road towards the right. However, if you are like me and would like to explore the left, you can also follow the metal road and go all the way where you will see some construction works. Maybe because it is a Sunday, there were no construction workers there. But be careful, I saw a big black snake there (could be a cobra) and also there is a guard dog that started barking at me the moment it saw me. At the construction site, the metal road branches off with one road actually leading straight to Holland road. You can see this when travelling along Holland road towards Orchard; it has the big green gate. If you explore this path, you can see 2 small houses before the construction site. Not sure if they are linked to the istana but they are in the state of being consumed by overgrown plants.

    Turn Right. The istana is just 100 – 200 meters away from the point I first reached the metal road. But I continue along the metal road until where it ends just like I did with the left side. No houses or any buildings here but just a big pile of probably construction waste covered by a big piece of fibre mesh or something. There are also 2 abandoned excavators here with plants growing around them.

    The istana itself is big with no less than 20 rooms I think, big and small altogether. The entire structure is still quite sturdy with most parts of the istana accessible except for some parts consumed by overgrown plants. Having said that, it is still advisable to wear covered shoes. Other than the occasional mosquito bites and some wasps, the place is relatively okay to visit.

  61. Tong Peng says:

    Thank You.

  62. shu0shushu says:

    Hi:D So thankful for your post:) I just went down today and it was quite an experience.

    I went down alone, it’s really quite safe on weekends as they are many other photographers/filmmakers there too. There’s actually a route where some kind-soul has tied a string to help with the downslopes on the way back. You will come across it if you go in around the 2nd pillar down from the busstop, take the left fork. On the way back, turn right and enter the forest at the ginger plant (the type with bright red flowers/fruits) and follow the path.

    The stairs in the istana itself is quite wobbly cos it’s wood and old, please be careful and don’t make too much jerky movements. Do bring along insect repellent because there are really a lot a lot of mosquitos on the way there. The forest shouldn’t be too thick and you should still be able to hear the traffic faintly when you reach the grassy fields before the istana.

    Have fun exploring^^

  63. juliejulilah says:

    Hi! I’ve heard a lot of stories about Istana Woodneuk and am curious to explore the place. I know it’s a tad too late but I’ll be going this Sunday (29.3.15) with another friend. Anybody would like to come along? The more the merrier =D

  64. JeffM says:

    Hi guys

    I’m interested in going but still confused on how to go there but eager to try :), anyone care to join me on friday? (3/4/15) just drop me an email

    • juliejulilah says:

      It’s actually quite easy to find the place once you get to the bustop opp Dempsey Road. The tough one is looking out for the opening to go through the bushes at the bustop… hehe.. but its actually not that difficult. I’ll be going again on 18th April though…

  65. Ezzy says:

    Any1 interested in joining us for any paranormal Venturing do like n chck our fb page n do pm us…kindly share wif us on ani other places dat we’ve nvr been…

  66. Daniel Yap says:

    Heard rumours that Istana Woodneuk burned down recently. Close photog friend went to shoot yesterday but the place was cordoned off by police and workers clearing the site were saying it burned down. Haven’t confirmed it in person.

  67. Lim says:

    To reply to Daniel’s comment, no. Just went there today and nope its not burned down. Very funny though was that the entrance(Beside the bus stop) had a sign that told people to keep out(Private property). In addition to the sign, there was wire blocking the entrance….but just leave the wire up to enter XD.

  68. francis says:

    anybody been there since Lim’s findings? Will people going in get charged for trespassing?

  69. Adam says:

    I am interested to visit the building this Sunday (21 June 2015) and I would like any kind souls to advice or give me tips which may benefit my visit. Please do add me up on facebook or instagram so we could discuss about this. Would be great if you could follow. ig – adamshahlaurent/ facebook – adamshahlaurent

  70. Ben says:

    Is this place still accessible via that path opposite the bus stop on Dempsey Road? I heard rumours that it might have been cordoned off sometime in April.

  71. Eimoe says:

    Dont go there on August it is available until september.

  72. Miyajae says:

    Is the place haunted? Saw some posts saying it’s haunted, some says it’s not. And did anyone try visiting the place at night?

  73. Betteroffalone says:

    Recently 10 of us (including me) went there.7 of them wore pendents for protection where as me and 2 girls dint.
    Surprisingly I was the bravest but also the dumbest because I peeked into 2 major rooms.
    1)The room with a demon goat on the wall
    2)The cult room
    The next few days after that everyone started waking up in the middle of the night all sweaty even though their aircon was left on at 16°.
    Waking up without the control of our body parts was also one of the many things
    One of my friends even wore a pendent to sleep and woke up to find it torn off her neck and on the floor.
    There was also 2 photos in my phone with a ghost in it..but the thing is…no one took that one..
    All these happened to all but me
    I dint wear a pendent and I prayed once when I got home..everyone else prayed and prayed for protection where as I prayed once.. Can someone tell me what it means?
    Am I just blessed with protection or is there something worse planned for me as I entered the 2 demonic rooms…

  74. Jacob says:

    What infantile gibberish. Has no place in discussing history.

  75. Jacob says:

    The comment – what infantile gibberish – refers to comments by Betteroffalone, of course

    • Ryan says:

      I heared now that place got police or some SLA which we got screened and no website told us about, its about 5pm if im not wrong. Well for now, Becareful guys

      • Adam says:

        did you went there recently? My friends and I are planning to go visit it soon! Will we be able to enter or will there be police patrolling around?

  76. hayden fun says:

    thank you remembersingapore . i had learn alot of things here that i don’t know

  77. LoL101 says:

    What happens if we get caught

  78. Jeslyn Woon says:

    Hi,this is Jeslyn! May I ask if this is safe to go? Without being possesed? Or the spirit following us back? And lastly,why are you so sure that this place is really haunted?

    • bo0n says:

      You seriously believe in that kind of thing? Nah me and my friends went there nothing happened. Maybe the only serious thing we saw was that there was a red thread tied to a banana tree keke serious xD(Caught it on video)

  79. George Kane says:

    We had an above ground swimming pool in the back of the house. Go through the main entrance, walk straight out the back. There’s a large patio. That’s where the pool was. Rode horses in the Istana plot to Taman Nakhoda – an additional 50 acres. Bridget Hooper gave us a polo pony, Amir, to take care of because she could no longer keep him at the Polo Club. One learns to ride a horse very quickly when it’s done on a polo pony. I recall that one day we were sitting in the dining area with our daughter, Samira, playing under the table. She came out, eventually, and after her so did a tarantula. Charming, We whacked it with a polo mallet. Our bedroom was on the ground floor, immediately to the left as soon as you come in the main entrance. Not easy to air condition because the ceilings were so high. On a car odometer I measured the distance from the main entrance, on Tyersall Ave., to the building entrance – it’s exactly a quarter mile. The kitchen is huge, of course, and like all rooms, the pantry had open windows, which kept the place airy and open to more than just the breeze. One evening I found a snake coiled up and fast asleep atop a case of bottled Magnolia milk. There were three bedrooms upstairs, and the main hall downstairs is huge. Great for parties. Most entertainment was done in homes in those days, when booze and such accoutrements were affordable. And a NY Eve party was memorable. Kept a ski boat, Tanya’s Toy, at Ponggol Point, built by Chay Hai Boat Builder, a master craftsman, who was across the road from the shed where we stored it, run by Amin bin Suradi, who also ran the Shell petrol pump there, where we’d fuel up before heading out to Snake Island across the Johore Strait, since disappeared with the construction of Pasir Gudang. The original chili crab, of course, with that heavenly sauce mopped up with hard read and washed down with ice cold beer. I recall one day exercising a horse in the morning, water skiing in the afternoon and playing squash in the evening, then wondering why I was so thirsty by the time we got to the satay stalls at Elizabeth Walk at night. Also recall the horror when I had to tell the company that the low end Ford wagon I’d bought cost all of US$16,000. It’s the year The Towering Inferno played at the Lido. Saw it with Indra Huxtable – a brilliant athlete and surely one of the most charming women who ever lived. Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end.

  80. Dee Parrish says:

    Is it still accessible ?

  81. Joel says:

    I have a feeling this is the “house of the Sultan of Johore in Tanglin” that is referred to in this 1935 article from the Straits Times. Most likely referring to its 1930 rebuild after the fire.

  82. Anonymous says:

    Heard That Istana Woodneuk Now is cordoned off at the front, the ” Entrance ” through the foilage Near Napier Road bus stop, had a sign that said a few people have been arrested for entering the premises. Now, the foliage gap is full of police tape, which makes it harder to access. Anyways, try not to enter as you might be arrested as well even though the reason for entering is for a peak of history. ( June 24, 2016) drove past…

  83. birju says:

    it seems this place is said to be haunted and was investigated twice by ghost files singapore(gfs)
    and there is a video about the investigation

  84. This land belong to my accent great great grand father sir baker (sultan abubaker) which I myself are 4th genarations n holding grants title deeds of Malacca 1878 (999yers) n seals ( medallion) from queen Victoria …any parties interested to invest do reply to me

    • GEORGINA CHIN says:

      Hi Tku Awi Ymt Mahadi,
      Currently, no one is allowed to enter Istana Woodneuk as it is classified as private property. Due to its rich history, I would like to explore the place with a group of like-minded people. May I know how and where can I get permission to enter the premises. Your advice is very much appreciated. Thanks.

  85. Green Robot says:

    To anyone thinking of trekking up to this place:
    Please consider making photosphere of this and any historic places you visit. For those who don’t know what a photosphere is, it’s like the “Street View” function on Google Maps. Users can roam from point to point on the map and get a feel of what the place is really like, not in a tiny window, but in full 360 view. For students who can’t afford 360 cameras (such as those put out by Ricoh, LG, Samsung, etc.), all it takes is a free Street View app downloadable from any app store, and if possible, a used tennis ball. This tutorial will show you how.
    If anyone is interested in shooting with a 360 camera instead, email me and I’ll give you some tips.

  86. Istana Sepachendera, the former grand palace at Kedah but has been left abandoned and derelict for decades like Istana Woodneuk..

    A grand gesture of love

    New Straits Times
    18 June 2017

    “TOLONG benarkan saya masuk sekejap. Saya hendak ambil gambar sahaja.“ (Please allow me in for a bit. I‘d like to take some photos).

    The guard takes a good hard look at me and after a few tense moments, turns to his companion and tells him to take charge before accompanying me inside. I heave a sigh of relief.

    “This is it! I must make the most out of this golden opportunity,“ I tell myself, quickly falling in step behind the lanky guard who is already quite far ahead.

    Istana Sepachendera is a pale shadow of its former glory. Standing just a few yards away from the three-storey building, I look sadly at the derelict condition of this former palace. It was once the home of Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah of Kedah and his royal household during the turn of the 20th century.

    Time and neglect have taken a heavy toll on the structure, particularly the roof directly above the front balcony. The missing tiles have allowed rainwater to seep in and weaken the supporting wooden beams. Judging from the severe damage, that section must have caved in years ago.

    Countless fig trees have taken root among the cracks in the walls. While some are still in their infancy, others are already bearing fruit. The rapidly-growing roots of these parasitic plants are cause for concern. The roots tunnel deep into the crevices, widening them. In years to come even the mightiest buildings crumble.

    Many wooden window panes are also missing, leaving ugly gaping holes. Yet, despite all these, I can still imagine how grand this palace must have looked when it was completed in 1882.

    Building it in Kampung Baru for his first wife, Che Sepachendera, was among Sultan Abdul Hamid‘s first edicts after he was elected Kedah ruler in 1881. The 17-year-old monarch had abruptly ascended the Kedah throne after his half-brother, Sultan Zainal Rashid Mu‘adzam Shah II, died of suspected poisoning while in detention at Ligor, Nakhon Si Thammarat on Sept 22, 1881.

    After moving into Istana Sepachendera on June 11, 1884, the royal couple was blessed with the birth of their first child, Tunku Ibrahim (Tunku Sulong).

    “Encik nak masuk?“ (Do you want to enter?) I ask the guard, gesturing to the curved stairway leading to the first floor. He shakes his head and tells me to proceed on my own.

    I walk up the stairs slowly and pause halfway as it dawns on me that more than a century ago, Sultan Abdul Hamid, his consorts and their children used this same set of stairs every time they left the palace and returned home.


    My thoughts race back in time to 1904 when the Sultan first began planning for the grandest royal wedding Kedah had ever seen. Arrangements were made for royal matchmakers to seek out the most suitable life partners for five of the monarch‘s children: Tunku Ibrahim, Tunku Zainal Rashid, Tunku Jam Jam, Tunku Rokiah and Tunku Jora.

    Istana Sepachendera, together with all the other royal palaces within the Kota Star area that housed the Sultan‘s large extended family, must have been a hive of activity then.

    It took two years for all the formalities and wedding details to be finalised. Finally on June 15, 1906 people from all over the state made a beeline for Alor Star to celebrate the joyous occasion that many dubbed the “Three Million Dollar Wedding“.

    All districts within the realm were instructed to send representatives to participate in the celebrations. The invited dignitaries came with caravans laden with rice, poultry and buffaloes — enough food for the celebrations, which was slated to last three months.

    Large temporary halls or balai were built in the padang (field) in front of the Balai Besar, close to the old Masjid Zahir.

    The State Mosque in its current form was only built in 1912, some six years after the royal wedding took place. At the time of the nuptials, Masjid Zahir was just a small wooden structure and could only accommodate a small congregation at any one time.

    Back then, the grounds around the mosque served as burial sites for members of the royal family and distinguished nobles. A portion of the makam or mausoleum became the resting place for the gallant Malay warriors who gave their lives defending Kuala Kedah Fort against Siamese attacks in the early part of the 19th century.

    It is believed that a multifold increase in mosque attendance during the royal wedding period prompted Sultan Abdul Hamid to speed up the already existing plans to build a larger and better equipped place of worship for the people. The new mosque, built with bricks and mortar, was designed to accommodate future expansion with minimal fuss. When presiding over the opening ceremony, the Sultan decreed that to preserve the sanctity of the place, the surrounding compound would be converted into a garden complete with gushing fountains and flowing streams.

    Throughout the entire three months, Alor Star residents from various cultural and religious background joined hands to help ensure that there would be no glitches to the planned programmes. They formed work groups to build temporary sleeping quarters for visitors as well as maintain the general cleanliness of the town. In return, each group was given a daily ration of one gunny sack of rice and two buffaloes.


    Peering through the doorway at the top of the stairs, I was hoping to get a better picture of how the Kedah royal family once lived. But my hopes are dashed! The entire palace has been thoroughly gutted. Even the floorboards have been taken away! I find myself precariously standing at a precipice, staring down at a 6m drop! No wonder the security guard had told me to be extra cautious when I stepped past the barricade earlier.

    Walking down the stairs, I begin to imagine the five royal princes and princesses with their retinue of servants trooping down these very steps, making their way towards the waiting carriages. The Sultan and his consorts could very well have been standing where I‘m standing, bidding farewell to their loved ones as the procession headed towards Istana Pelamin (now the Royal Museum). There, the royal children would undergo final preparations for their big day.

    While all the royal wedding istiadat (custom) were largely confined to the daylight hours, the nights were primarily reserved for the people to indulge in merrymaking. Various performances were organised all over town. Although there were nightly Malay, Siamese, Indian and Chinese stage shows, the majority of the crowd was drawn to the four large ronggeng halls. The people had the time of their lives, mesmerised by dance troupes from Penang and Singapore.

    Despite spending what would have been the equivalent of around RM78 million in today‘s money, the royal wedding only brought Sultan Abdul Hamid short-term joy. The monarch, who had been sickly since 1896, saw his health deteriorate after the wedding. To make matters worse, Che Sepachendera passed away three years later, in 1909. The sultan was so heartbroken he vowed never to live in Istana Sepachendera again. Many believed that the memories of his favourite consort were too much to bear.

    The palace was left empty until 1922 when Tunku Ibrahim decided that enough time had passed since his mother‘s demise. He turned the palace into the Kampung Baru Girls‘ School, the first English school solely for girls in the state.

    Throughout his 62-year-reign, Sultan Abdul Hamid had at least seven wives who bore him more than 40 children.

    The Sultan‘s 20th child, born of his fifth wife Che Manjalara, was our Father of Independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj. Born in 1903, he spent his early childhood playing with his many siblings before leaving for Bangkok and subsequently, England, to further his studies. Tunku could very well have spent time at Istana Sepachendera during his halcyon days in Alor Star.

  87. Paul says:

    I think you meant charted, not “chartered”

  88. Lee Henry says:

    This blog is a national treasure trove of memories. Thanks for this great effort at preserving memories of our past!

  89. Jane Iyer says:

    I love these stories of old Singapore. Have twice managed to “sneak in” & see Istana Woodnuk but know it’s now too difficult & dangerous. What a shame it can’t be opened up to the public, warts & all!
    I’ll just keep telling people about it as we head to Atbara & Inverturret – luckily both these are have been restored, & will open next year for public use.

    • Ben says:

      Hi Guys !
      I will make a trip to Singapore and would absolutely like to visit this place (property with respect) and take some videos and pictures.
      Someone went there recently?
      Concert do you know what we are facing in front of the police?
      Thanks a lot for your help.
      I can send my email address if needed.
      if you also have another place to advise me …

  90. Derrick says:

    Please join my FB at

    After approval, read my recent posts (Oct-2018) on Woodneuk & Gallop Extension Park.

    Yes, went in by the bus stop opp Dempsey Road, before Tyersall Ave. Trail starts beside the bridge.

    Istana Woodneuk 1°18′31.5″N 103°48′44.0″E

  91. William says:

    Explored it recently, lots of large grass and the place is hard to find because its very overgrown now. Completely surrounded by forest. I explored it with someone I love and it was fun. Last thing, the haunted myths of it are BS

    • George says:

      William – how did you get in? Was it from Napier Road somewhere?

      • George says:

        Aren’t all access points cleared by now? Are you aware that there are snakes living there?

      • William says:

        Hey George, sorry for the late reply
        1.308024, 103.810685
        is where the coordinates of the location are, roughly. There is a trail that branches off into the jungle from the pavement, between the bus stop named Opp Peirce Road and the overpass on the east of that bus stop. It’s along that sheltered walkway. it can’t be seen on google street view but trust me when you get there you’ll see it. Plan your route before you go, and when you do make sure you wait till nobody is looking before slipping in the trail; to avoid suspicious looks. I didn’t come across any snakes… just spiders. Just keep your eyes open for anything like snakes, best to wear long pants and insect repellent. Now the vegetation is far thicker than it was 3 or 4 years ago, which made the place hard to find. I found an old shed there but got lost trying to find the actual building, so I’d highly recommend bringing a gps or two, as the thick canopies made my gps malfunction but I had someone with me whose gps worked and that saved us. Also try to follow the trail closely, it is usually marked by lavatorial paper or red string, by other kind hearted singaporeans that visit occasionally.
        I wish you the best of luck, George

      • William says:

        Stay safe… don’t vandalise or do anything sketchy please as those are the reasons why they make it hard to access, to prevent such people from ruining history

  92. Green Robot says:

    Huge thanks to Andreas Modos and Eugenio Mercado for shooting 360 photos of this place only this year, probably just before the quarantine.
    Andreas Modos

    Eugenio Mercado
    (More images on the map)

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