For those born before the ’90s, you will remember how Haw Par Villa used to be this fun cultural theme park with water rides. Remember that huge iconic concrete dragon at Haw Par Villa? As a kid back then, I didn’t think it was strange having Chinese Mythology dioramas and statues at a theme park. And with the opening of Hell’s museum at Haw Par Villa, I can only associate this cultural park with death and the afterlife. Yes, you’ve read that right – a museum about death and the afterlife. Besides this newly-opened museum, here are 5 reasons why should visit Haw Par Villa.
1. Visit the world’s first museum dedicated to death and the afterlife
Thank goodness the Hell’s museum galleries are air-conditioned so that you will still feel cool while touring the galleries even though the outside may be as hot as hell.
This museum isn’t entirely all that dark and sinister. Interestingly, it brings light to our purpose and existence as human beings in this world. It provides visitors with unique comparative insights on how death and the afterlife are viewed and interpreted across the various religions and cultures. You will start to ponder about our perceptions of life and death. Why is death a taboo topic to talk about in today’s society? It may also challenge your beliefs about life in general. There’s definitely a lot of depth to this museum and if you’re a cultural or religious buff, you mustn’t miss out on this attraction.
The Hell’s museum complex also includes the Ten Courts of Hell where it tells the story about the afterlife based on Taoist and the Buddhist teachings of punishments in the afterlife. In the past, parents would share terrible stories about the punishments in the afterlife with their children to serve as a warning and reminder that they need to do good and behave well.
Do note that the Hell’s museum is ticketed and prices start from SGD $10. However, the entry to Haw Par Villa itself is free of charge.
Ticketing Information and Operating Hours
Adults (13 years and above): SGD $18
Children (7-12 years old): SGD $10
Hell’s museum Operating Hours: Tues – Sun (10 am to 6pm), last entry at 5pm
2. Visit the Jade House to learn about the origins of Haw Par Villa
The Jade House is located close to the entrance of the park which is closer to the carpark. It’s a small exhibit where you can find out more about the history of Haw Par Villa which was built in 1937. Haw Par Villa is once called the Tiger Balm Garden. It is founded by Chinese-Burmese businessman and philanthropist, Aw Boon Haw. He built a dream villa and garden just for his younger brother, Aw Boon Par. And he named the villa as Haw Par Villa, which is a combination of his own name and his brother’s name.
Long story short, the land was later owned by Boon Par’s son, Aw Cheng Chye. And in 1985, the state acquires the land on which Haw Par Villa stands.
I’m just glad that this cultural park has been preserved throughout the years because this place probably brings back alot of memories for Singaporeans.
3. There are more than 1,000 sculptures and dioramas in the park!
They were first built in 1937 by craftsmen and artisans who had earlier created similar ones for the Aw family’s residence in Hong Kong.
Among the Chinese dioramas, you will spot a statue of liberty and two sumo wrestlers statues in the park. Aw Cheng Chye wanted to commomerate his travels so he ordered the construction of the ‘international corners’ in the park.
Some of the other key sculptures include the Garuda, Eight Immortals, Laughing Buddha and Confucius. In a sense, Haw Par Villa is like a huge outdoor gallery with all these sculptures and Chinese dioramas. You can learn more about the famous Chinese classics such as Journey to the West and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and the story of the Eight Immortals Crossing the Eastern Sea through the labyrinth of elaborate dioramas.
4. There’s a visitor centre and a bistro at Haw Par Villa.
There is a little bistro called The Sixth Milestone which offers beverages and both local and western dishes. You might have to bring some cash here if you are planning to dine there. There’s also a souvenir shop within the visitor centre.
The Sixth Milestone’s operating hours are:
Wed – Fri: 10am – 5pm
Sat – Sun: 11am – 6pm
5. Visit the Rise of Asia Museum (Coming soon!)
This is another museum which has yet to be launched to the public yet. It will probably be open in the next phase of their opening. It is slated to open in 2022. The museum aims to explain Asian entrepreneurship and the modern rise of Asia, and help the world understand the new evolving Asia. It feature on the Aw brothers’ Tiger Balm business and their humble beginnings.
This attraction is definitely worth checking out. It’s unlike any attractions here in Singapore.
Haw Par Villa: Getting there & Operating Hours
Address: 262 Pasir Panjang Rd, Singapore 118628
Nearest MRT station: Haw Par Villa CC25 (Circle line)
Carpark fee: $5 per entry
Operating Hours: 9.00am – 10.00pm (last entry 9.30pm)
Open daily, including weekends and Public Holidays