Ever wondered what happens after death? Or thought about whether or not heaven or hell truly exists? What are they really like? Does performing good deeds gives you an easy access to paradise? Or doing bad deeds will condemn you to eternal hell? Well what about re-birth? Do we get a second or a third chance at life? Are there many lives to live? For the curious minds, Haw Par Villa in Singapore is the perfect place to figure out the answers to these questions. It is a real life 3D encyclopedia with life sized statues that depict what life after death will be like. More about what being in hell would really be like.
Curiosity got the best of you? Eager to know more? Then proceed at your own risk!
Unlike many theme parks in the world, Haw Par Villa isn’t known for its thrilling and heart pumping superfast rides, but for various goosebumps inducing scenes from Chinese folklore, urban legends, mythology, etc. It may seem implausible, but many Singapore visa holders who travel to Singapore are unaware of this attraction in the country that takes you on a walk through the dreaded underworld. With 1000+ life sized statues, and 150+ models of various scenes that one may witness in hell, Haw Par Villa is Singapore’s best kept secret.
Previously known as the Tiger Balm Theme Park, Haw Par Villa was built by a Burmese-Chinese Industrialist Aw Boon Haw and his younger brother Aw Boon Par in 1937. Later in 1980s, the Singapore Tourism Board re-named it to honor them by combining their names.
The park pays homage to the Chinese culture with the statues of many famous stories, historical personalities and other important aspects scattered throughout the park, such as:
The 12 Animals of Chinese Zodiac – The Chinese Lunar calendar has an animal and its qualities dedicated to a year and this cycle keeps going on for 12 years before the cycle gets repeated. The 12 Zodiac Animals residing in the park are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
Legend of the White Snake – The legendary love story of an ordinary boy and a White Snake Spirit, which is an important part of the Chinese folklore.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms – It is a classic piece of Chinese literature that tells the tales of the troubled years leading to the downfall of Han Dynasty.
Journey to the West – It showcases the journey that Buddhist monk Xuanzang undertook to obtain Buddhist Sutras after many hardships.
The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars – It speaks about 24 exemplary individuals, who showed extraordinary commitment and deep dedication towards their parents.
Hell’s Museum – The main attraction of the park that portrays the 10 Courts of Hell as per the Chinese mythology. Here you can see the deceased being judged and punished for their sins. As per the mythology – corrupt people will be frozen in solid ice blocks, ungratefulness will result in getting one’s heart cut out, cheaters will be thrown over a tree full of knives, rumour mongers will get their tongue pulled out, robbers and thieves will get their limbs cut off, and so on. The deeper you go, the gloomier it will get. A word of caution – proceed only if you are brave enough to explore the deep pits of hell!
All this along with various statues of Lin Zexu, Jiang Ziya, Guan Yin, Laughing Buddha, and mythological creatures like mermaids, crabs with human head etc. add to eerie atmosphere of the park.
Also Read: Mind-Blowing Singapore Adventures
Park timings: 9 am – 8 pm (last entry – 7:30 pm) from Sunday – Thursday and 9 am – 10 pm (last entry – 9:30 pm) on Friday and Saturday.
Hell’s Museum is close on Monday and Tuesday (except on public holidays) and is open from Wednesday – Sunday from 10 am- 6 pm (last entry – 5 pm).
How to Reach
If you are travelling by the MRT, get off at the Haw Par Villa MRT Station. The park is simply a short walk away from the Exit A of the station.
The bus stop at Pasir Panjang Road is one minute away from the park and you can hop on any of these buses – 10, 30, 30E, 51, 143, 188 and 200.
The Haw Par Villa is FREE to enter, however the Hell’s Museum does have some nominal entry fee.
As there is bound to be a fair amount of walking, wear comfortable shoes and since you’ll be spending quite some time under the tropical sun and clear blue skies, slather on your sunscreen (SPF), carry a water bottle, a hat or a cap, etc.
Also Read: Top 13 free things to do in Singapore
Since the 1950s, when it was opened for general public it is considered the best recreational activity to undertake along with kids as it helped instill moral values in them. The kids also learn a fair share about the Chinese culture, myths and legends through the various models in the park. The odd and scary looking statues were made so on purpose, to make sure the moral lessons stick with the young and impressionable minds.
Once you are done visiting all the glittery, shiny, and pretty tourist attractions that are included in our range of Singapore tour packages, we urge you to head towards this lesser known and not so frequently visited Haw Par Villa.
If you have ever engaged in inconclusive discussions regarding any of the questions mentioned at the beginning of this article then maybe you can gain an upper hand now. After all who knows what the real deal is? And those who know, can’t actually lend their two cents to this conversation now, can they?
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