The Haw Par Villa is an attraction in Singapore is a grotesque-themed museum that is frequented by tourists and locals, particularly families to inculcate a sense of discipline and introduce them to Chinese culture for their children. The park is a mix of culture, history, and philosophy and is known to be visually vibrant with up to 1000 statues of lobsters, goats, pandas, and even Garuda spread across the park. Formerly known as the Tiger Gardens, the Haw Par Villa was built in 1937 by the Burmese businessman Aw Boon Haw for his brother Aw Boon Par. The park has a quirky twist to its exhibits in the form of 150 dioramas and the depictions of Chinese folklore. Tourists visiting this place can get a first-hand experience of understanding the confluence of oriental history, faith, and philosophy. The park has a ticketed entry and also comes with guided tours where you can learn about how certain beliefs like the afterlife exist across different civilizations. Tourists visiting this park can also participate in the weekly twilight tours and apart from the attractions, the park is also equipped with a new transport-themed bistro that tourists can check out to unwind after a long day of exploring the park.
The Haw Par Villa was built in 1937 by a millionaire, philanthropist, and founder of Tiger Balm- Aw Boon Haw. It was originally built to make this place a fun-filled place to teach children about history and philosophy related to Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. He personally supervised the construction of the park and by creating original fixtures to help the public stay true and rooted to moral guidance. The infrastructure is a clear testimony to Aw Boon Haw's commitment and passion towards Chinese culture and mythology. This park went on to be known as the Tiger Balm Park and was abandoned when the Second World War broke out and when Singapore was occupied by the Japanese forces to be used as an observation post. The Haw family fled to Myanmar and returned to Singapore to rebuild the park after the war had ended. Between the 1940s and the 1970s, the Haw family helped in developing the park. One instance includes Haw's son Haw Cheng Chye who established international corners and set up additional dioramas to pay tributes to different parts of the world he visited. The space was given a modern form in 1985 through revitalisation work. Today, it is popularly known as Haw Par Villa Dragon World and is named in honour of the original builders.
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The Hell's Museum is one of the main attractions of Haw Par Villa's 10 Courts of Hell. Visitors checking out this place can learn about the concept of hell according to Buddhist, Taoist, and Chinese beliefs. The museum is in the shape of a cave that tourists can walk into and see how each court is a graphic representation of hell ruled by a Yama King who deals with punishments. The museum also comes with a dim lighting to add a grotesque look while exploring.
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Animal structures are everywhere in this park with a diverse range of creatures, right from sea lions to wildlife native to Australia. Visitors, especially kids, can understand the different types of animals by looking at them. The place is built to resemble a zoo, except that all of the animals there are just statues and are not real.
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Haw Par Villa is filled with a lot of sculptures worth looking at and getting yourself clicked, but the best ones for photography sessions are featured as part of this self-guided walking tour. In this tour, tourists can visit the little-known spots in the park, identify the select-few sights in the park that come with ground markers and click some Instagram-worthy pictures.
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Also known as the Footsteps to Enlightenment Trail, this is the Buddhist Trail of Haw Par Villa where you can explore the place and understand the different Buddhist elements, like Buddhist deities. The tour is self-guided and offers a unique opportunity for you to view the different depictions of Buddha across different cultures, such as the Laughing Buddha and Avalokiteshvara.
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In Sculpture Walk, one can get their creative juices flowing while exploring the dioramas from Chinese classics like the Romance of the three Kingdoms and the Eight Immortals Crossing the Eastern Sea. The walk is guided and you will be made to observe them and will use all the insights into a creative writing activity.
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In this tour, visitors can witness the different cultural sculptures of all shapes and sizes and learn about the stories behind the dioramas. You will also learn about how Aw Boon Haw relied on art to convey moral values to younger generations. The tour is guided and guides will share stories about Chinese cultures that are represented and brought to life in detail.
Beyond The Evil is a carefully curated multi-sensory experience that talks about what happens after we die. The experience offers a fresh perspective about death and the afterlife and is made using a careful blend of mass media, technology, and digitalism to expand our imagination. The experience involves 4 contemporary artists who will help you explore the topics and expand your imagination as inspired by current situations.
On the occasion of SOlar New Year, Haw PAr VIlla organises a Solar New Year Blessings fest. It will be conducted by monks and priests from Thai Buddhism, Tamil Hinduism and Sikhism. The event involves a procession around the park and people across different faiths take part in this event to be blessed. The One Sun, One Celebration also has a Bhangra performance that visitors can check out.
This exhibit commemorates the contributions of Yeo Swee Huat Paper Agency, which was an important supplier of paper offerings for different Chinese rituals and festivals. It showcases this vanishing art in the form of photos and murals that give an insight into the manufacturing process. However, after the Covid pandemic, the firm shut its doors for the last time.
The Haw Par Villa was originally built in 1937 by a millionaire and philanthropist Aw Boon Haw to teach children about history and philosophy related to Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. This park went on to be known as the Tiger Balm Park and was abandoned when the Second World War broke out. After the war ended, the Haw family returned to Singapore and restored the statues and dioramas along with adding additional elements like International Corners. Today, the park is popularly known as Haw Par Villa Dragon World and attracts visitors across all ages.
Location: The park is located alongside the Pasir Panjang road in Singapore.
Opening Hours: The park is open on all days from 9 AM to 8 PM, including public holidays and weekends. In case you are planning a visit, do note that the last entry for this park is at 7:30 PM. The Hell's Museum is closed on mondays and functions between 10 AM to 6 PM with the last entry time being 5 PM, even on public holidays.
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The museum has parking facilities available at the main entrance, Science Park, Westway Shopping Mall, and via Zehnder road. Visitors arriving in both cars and motorcycles can park their vehicles at these spots and have to pay a fee of approximately 125 INR for motorcycles and 500 INR for cars. In case you are coming by coach, there is also a coach bay available for 4 coaches to be parked at a time.
Haw Par Villa has a visitors' Centre that sells a lot of merchandise sourced from small businesses. Upon arrival, tourists must collect their passes from this place before entering into the park. There is also a bistro and cafe known as the Sixth Milestone that serves local style kopi and teh, some beers, and eatables for visitors like snacks. There is an F & B Oasis where you can simply unwind in the open space and enjoy the breeze in the park.
Haw Par Villa is an old grotesque-themed museum that emphasises the importance of Chinese, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies. It is built to depict the greatness of Chinese folklore and spiritual significance. Out of all the attractions, the most frequented include the ten courts of hell and the stories of eight immortals.
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The park is open on all days from 9 AM to 8 PM, including public holidays and weekends. In case you are planning a visit, do note that the last entry for this park is at 7:30 PM. The Hell's Museum is closed on mondays and functions between 10 AM to 6 PM with the last entry time being 5 PM, even on public holidays.
Yes, photography is allowed in the museum. In fact, even videography is allowed, provided tourists do not record the storyboards, tours, and videos of the tour.
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Yes, there are guided tours in the museum, like the Journeys To Hell and the Tiger Tiger Burning Bright. The Journeys To Hell is an exclusive tour that happens during the after-hours of the park and talks about how the park was built and about the different concepts of afterlife too. They can even visit the world's only Hell' Museum to understand the idea of 10 Courts of Hell. Meanwhile, the Tiger Burning Bright tour is about how the founders of this museum were also the pioneers of the 100-year old Tiger Balm that is available in pharmacies across different countries. Apart from guided tours, there are DIY tours like the Buddhist-themed Footsteps to Enlightenment, Zodiac Hunt, and Hop! Par Villa tour to click some Instagram-worthy pictures.
Yes, there is an admission fee for entering this museum. Tickets are priced at approximately INR 1120 per person for adults and INR 610 per person for children. Visitors aged 6 years and below enter the park for free.