Welcome to Haw Par Villa


What is Haw Par Villa known for?

Like something out of the twilight zone, the near-forgotten theme park “Haw Par Villa” is a must for anyone seeking something out of the ordinary, rich in cultural learning!

WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa - Entrance
Haw Par Entrance

In its glory days, this avant-garde theme park was an iconic symbol in Singapore and considered a must-see by locals and foreigners alike. It was built by the sons of Aw Chu Kin, inventor of a simple homemade balm, which ended up being a worldwide success, known today as “Tiger Balm”. As the country of Singapore developed, and became almost futuristic in its modern appearance, the thousands of dating figurines that make up this park began to lose their lustre along with much of their original appeal. Some of the areas of Haw Par Villa have been shut down due to lack of preservation, such as the amphitheatre (I am still curious as to what kind of shows one might have been able to see here) – yet there are also other areas which seemed to be undergoing repairs. I was happy to see that someone still cares about this hidden treasure, and insists on its preservation.

WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa - Village Scene
Haw Par Villa – Village Scene

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See – Photos & Videos

WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa - Chicken Family
Haw Par Villa – Chicken Family
WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa - Boy lunging
Haw Par Villa – Boy lunging
WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa - Demon and Man
Haw Par Villa – Demon and Man
WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa - Angry Goat
Haw Par Villa – Angry Goat
WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa - Haw Par Jump Shot
Haw Par Villa – Haw Par Jump Shot
WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa - Pavilion
Haw Par Villa – Pavilion
WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa - Mermaids
Haw Par Villa – Mermaids
WSE Travel -Haw Par Villa, Singapore - Map
Haw Par Villa, Singapore – Map

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Do – Activities and Attractions

There are no rides or activities within Haw Par Villa; the theme park itself is the attraction. Haw Par Villa, commonly known as the Tiger Balm Gardens, has over 1000 statues and 150 dioramas depicting various Chinese folklore and mythologies.

Brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boom Par built the Haw Par Villa with the intention of making it a place where parents can take their children to teach them about morality and proper conduct. The founders intentionally withheld from making the illustrations ‘child-friendly’ to make the lessons more memorable.

The park has statues of armed monkeys, giant crabs with human faces and a range of other weird and wonderful statues. It also has a diorama of the ‘Ten Stages of Hell’. According to Chinese mythology, a soul passes through a series of courts before it can enter heaven, of course, punishment awaits those who are proven unworthy.

Please note that some of the depictions are very detailed, making the place a little creepy for children, and even for some adults too! Most visitors will find the displays both grotesque and hilarious, all at the same time.

Overall, Haw Par Villa may not be your average tourist attraction but it is still a must see especially if you are fond of Chinese culture and mythology. Efforts to restore the park to its former glory are also in the way.

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Go – Getting There

How do you get to Haw Par Villa?

Haw Par Villa can be reached from the Haw Par Villa MRT station on the green line. From there, it is a short walk to the park’s entrance, making it very accessible from anywhere in the city.

Do – Activities and Attractions

What is in Haw Par Villa?

Haw Par Villa is divided into several areas. Each of the areas artistically portrays stories and events based on famous Chinese Historical personalities, mythology and legends. From the ‘Eight Immortals’, to the ‘Pond of Legacy’, the “Hua Song Museum”, or “Madam White Snake” – the diversity of exhibits at Haw Par Villa seems unending. There are also giant memorials to members of the Aw family, in addition to the Haw Par House – a giant circular house built for one of the Aw brothers.

WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa - Prayer farmers
Haw Par Villa – Prayer farmers

I felt the main attraction of Haw Par Villa is the enclosed tunnel that takes you through the 10 courts of Hell. I felt it was a highlight because it was fascinating to see what was considered a punishable and intolerable crime in old Chinese scripture – or at least how the Aw family interpreted this. Additionally, it was interesting to see how some of the severities of crimes were categorized and separated. For instance, ‘Cheating during examinations’ wasn’t found until the eighth court of Hell.. worse than ‘Abducting others’ found earlier at the sixth court of Hell, and punishable by having your intestines ripped out! A little harsh I would reckon – but I guess ‘kids these days’ gotta learn somehow! Fear seems to be most effective.

I have separated the post depicting the Courts of Hell at Haw Par Villa due to the graphic nature of the torturing of the figures found within. If you think you’ve got the stomach for it, please visit the post HERE.

Haw Par Villa was definitely an odd and unexpected highlight to my visit to Singapore, though I felt very enriched with the amount I was able to learn. When in Singapore with a few extra hours, I’d highly recommend visiting this one-of-a-kind attraction. It is definitely not like going to Universal Studios but is surely somewhere where the sidewalk has ended, and you are able to learn more of the culture in which you’re visiting.

WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa - Gambling man
Haw Par Villa – Gambling man

At the time of this publication, Haw Par Villa has free admission. I have a feeling that if the city tries to revitalize this that there will be a hefty admission fee to go along with it. My suggestion is to go while it still has some of its original charms, and while there are no crowds. This made it very easy to stroll around and take the time to read all the informative plaques found almost every step of the way while exploring all the fascinating and unique sculptures.

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Stay – Accommodation

Where to stay around Haw Par Villa

Coming soon!

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Eat – Restaurants

Coming Soon!

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Time – Seasonality and Schedules

When is Haw Par Villa open?

Haw Par Villa is open daily from 9am to 7pm.

What is the best time to visit Haw Par Villa?

As Singapore is hot all year round, an ideal time to visit is early in the morning, before the heat of the day.

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Safety – Possible Risks

Is Haw Par Villa safe to visit?

In general, Singapore is incredibly safe to visit! As such, Haw Par Villa is also generally safe. That being said, on my visit, I was one of the only people in the park. This does elevate your risk a little bit, as you can be an easy target.that being said, Singapore is amongst the safest countries to visit in the world, so generally you should feel safe visiting.

Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim those who try to play off those unfamiliar with their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed to.

Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.

Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk, and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).

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Pay – How much does it cost?

How much does Haw Par Villa cost?

Admission to Haw Par Villa is free for everyone.

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Responsible Travel – Best Practices

As Haw Par Villa is a historical site with cultural relevance, it is important to be respectful while visiting. You will still want to dress respectfully, even if it is hot. To reduce waste, it is always a good idea to carry a reusable water bottle with you to stay hydrated as you explore, and bring a reusable shopping bag or backpack if you plan on buying any souvenirs or bringing snacks with you.

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Reality Check – Be Aware

Haw Par Villa is a theme park, though it was closed for a long time. Some of the areas are a bit dated, and some are still closed to the public due to lack of maintenance. It is a great pass time, though not as exciting as an amusement park (there are no rides), it is fantastic for culture lovers, or people who enjoy things that are unique and different. If you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip the 10 Courts of Hell section, as the statues are quite explicit. Overall, it can be an enjoyable day for people of all ages.

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JOIN US! Travel Packages

This sounds like quite the adventure, right? We thought so too! Though we realize it can be pretty intimidating to get out there into the world on your own, especially when travelling to some of these off the beaten path locations. We love it when our readers give it a shot and try it for themselves! In fact, please leave us feedback if you do!! If trying something ‘this’ adventurous on your own is just a bit outside of your comfort zone, WSE Travel is here to help!

Follow this link for our ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Tours – packages that are highly personalized and tailored at your request.

Are there any theme parks you’ve been to which seemed to have been all but forgotten? Any cultural attractions which seemed to have been left behind? Share your stories in the comments below!

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WSE Travel - Haw Par Villa – Singapore’s forgotten Theme Park
Haw Par Villa – Singapore’s forgotten Theme Park

3 Responses

  1. So great to see your post on the Tiger Balm Gardens and your mention of the amphitheatre. I just returned from Singapore today and was sad not to have been able to visit as they are undergoing renovations. I had really hoped for my 9 year old daughter to experience the Tiger Balm Gardens as I had at her age, in the 70s.
    The amphitheatre was my most poignant memory… my family stopped by Singapore and headed to the Tiger Balm Gardens for a Cultural Show. My brother and I sat down the front, and our parents up the back… i think there may have been some dancing with fire but I most vividly remember the snake charming show and eagerly volunteered to have one wrapped around my shoulders…. much to my mothers dismay, whom I remember tearing down the aisle demanding it be taken off me ? Hoping they preserve the gardens well…

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