A poor man's Marina Bay Sands.
Published/Last edited or updated: 2nd February, 2017
While exploring Singapore’s Chinatown neighbourhood it’s impossible not to notice the massive Pinnacle @ Duxton looming in the distance. This is the world’s tallest public housing building and its 50th storey observation skybridge is open to the public. With an entry cost of just S$5, you can think of it as a poor man’s Marina Bay Sands.
Given the high cost of living in the city-state of Singapore, more than 80% of Singaporeans live in government-built apartment blocks known as HBDs (so-called for the Housing Development Board you must apply to when you want to purchase one). Completed in 2009, the Pinnacle @ Duxton is the largest HBD to date and is comprised of seven 50-storey towers linked by multiple levels of open-air skybridges. With 1,848 apartments in total it falls short of being the world’s largest, but the Pinnacle @ Duxton does take the title of being the tallest public housing building in the world.
Not only is the Pinnacle an interesting opportunity to see how the average Singaporean lives, it’s a good alternative to overpriced viewpoints like Marina Bay Sands or 1-Altitude Bar which charge admission fees of S$20 or more.
The Pinnacle @ Duxton’s 50th storey skybridge is open to the public from 09:00 to 21:45 daily at a cost of S$5 per person. So not to impact the residents’ lives too much visitors are limited to 200 per day, but this quota is never reached except during special events like the National Day fireworks display.
The entry system is entirely automated and you must pay using an EZ-Link card – the same prepaid card you can use to pay for fares on buses, subways and taxis. After paying the entrance fee at the ticketing machine on the ground level of tower 1G, take the elevator to the 50th floor, tap your EZ-Link card against the electronic lock and access skybridge gate via a turnstile. On our last visit in April 2015, the kiosk was broken, so we just paid cash.
In one word, the view is stunning. As the buildings surrounding the Pinnacle don’t compare in height, there is nothing to obstruct the view as you look out towards Chinatown, the central business district, the busy Singapore harbour and Sentosa Island. There’s plenty of space on the skybridge and you may see residents of the building jogging or just relaxing with a newspaper. The views over Chinatown are arguably the most interesting and you should be able to pick out many of the prominent points of interest without too much trouble.
The viewing deck allows you to walk the full length from one end to the other and there are numerous spots to sit down and enjoy the view. If you’re there in the late afternoon don’t be surprised if you are the only person there — though towards sunset a few more people will appear, on our last visit, for sunset, there wasn’t more than 20 people in total. One minor point is that all the way around there is a double fence that makes it difficult to look straight down or to take unobstructed photos — not the end of the world!
Officially eating and drinking are not allowed on the skybridge, but in practise people flout these rules – on past visits there was a couple having a dinner of chicken rice and we’ve had an unauthorised beer on occasion. There are security cameras, but as long as you clean up after yourself it shouldn’t be a problem.
Pinnacle @ Duxton is immediately to the south of Chinatown between Cantonment Road and Craig Road and the closest SMRT is Outram Park. The public entrance is via tower 1G. If you’re up here for sunset, there are plenty of fancy bars and restaurants along Keong Saik Road (which Craig Road almost runs into) that would be handy spots to rest your feet afterwards.
Tanya Procyshyn is a freelance writer and photographer. With a passion for unusual destinations, she has camped alongside Komodo dragons and shook hands with soldiers in North Korea.
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