Reliving Haw Par Villa

When  was the last time you stepped into Haw Par Villa?  Or for some younger ones, you probably have never stepped into this place, nor heard much of it.

The Haw Par Villa  (originally known as "Tiger Balm Gardens") was built as a gift from Aw Boon Haw to his brother, Aw Boon Par.  The siblings made their wealth through perfecting their father's recipe of the medicated oil balm - Tiger Balm. The entrance to the garden surrounding the villa was free. With an intention to provide a free recreational space that offers the teachings of traditional Chinese Values, more than 1000 statues and 150 giant dioramas depicting scenes from Chinese mythology, folklore, legends and history, illustrated the various aspects of Confucianism, Buddhism and Toaism.

After the Government's acquisition of the land in 1985, its venture with International Theme Parks (ITP) during 1990, in attempt to convert Haw Par Villa to a theme park ("Dragon World") did not take off well, and the park was eventually returned to the Singapore Toursim Board in 2001.  It used to be a very popular spot in Singapore but it is now forgotten by many...

The best known attraction in Haw Par Villa is the Ten Courts of Hell (was 18 courts then), which features gruesome depictions of punishment and reincarnation in Hell in relative to Chinese mythology and Buddhism.
Welcome to the gate of the "Ten Courts of Hell"!
Other major attractions include dioramas of scenes from Journey into the West, which retells the classic Chinese legend of monk Xuanzang in his search of Buddhist scriptures, as well as, Fengshen Bang, The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars, Legend of the White Snake, Romance of the Three Kingdoms; statues of mythological figures such as the Laughing Buddha and Guanyin, and historical personages such as Jiang Ziya, Su Wu and Lin Zexu; the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and others. There are also monuments dedicated to the Aw brothers and their parents.

In Celebration of its 50th anniversary, The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has carried out a Tourism50 campaign with a three-phased plan - Reminisce, Rediscover and Celebrate. The STB hopes to raise awareness and appreciation of past and present tourism developments, encourage public interest and participation, and celebrate the progressment of  the tourism sector with this initiative.

Kicking off the Reminisce phase, is the 'Reliving Haw Par Villa' event, where the public can participate in free guided tours and curated talks of the longstanding attraction and heritage park - Haw Par Villa, over two weekends in March (15, 16, 22 and 23 March 2014).  Gain insights into the history of Haw Par Villa, the background story of its original owners – the Aw Brothers, and the various Asian folklores, beliefs and philosophy behind the sculptures and dioramas. Other activities include cultural performances such as storytelling sessions, skits and puppet shows, a nostalgic-themed food bazaar, and a vintage flea market. Admission is free.

Geraldine, our tour guide for the session.

 Sin Hoe Ping (新和平) Puppet Troupe Performance, providing a taste of Chinese cultures & traditions.

My family has been buying Popiah skin from Kway Guan Huat (郭源發) Joo Chiat Original Popiah & Kueh Pie Ti since many years back when we stayed in Joo Chiat area, till date, theirs are still the best!

Uncle G's Handmade rosted pork with apple plum sauce!

Uncle G's Handmade rosted pork is beautifully roasted to a golden color and you can hear the crackling sound upon muching! Hear it for yourself how crispy the skin is! It goes with a apple plum sauce which is very refreshing and appetising and make it taste less greasy, but do eat in moderate!

(Image Credit: Durian Creme Brulee, together with Adrian & Genghui)

For the Durian Fans, this Durian Creme Brulee is something you should not miss!  Heavenly durian taste, yet not over-whelming; and best of all, unlike the usual Creme Brulee you eat elsewhere, it is not overly sweet!

Do visit the Ramly Burger Stall too, the smell of the piping hot burger makes me totally forget about taking pics of the burger itself!

Vintage lovers may want to check out these lovely typewriters at the Vintage Flea Market? 

 Tiger Balm is also available for sale at the flea market!
My purchase of old school toys from Biscuit King, brought back fond memories of my younger days!

What better time to visit the Haw Par Villa with a series of activities specially organized for you!There's also Tourism50 goodie bag for the first 1000 vistors during the below dates

Date: 15, 16, 22, 23 March
Venue: Haw Par Villa
Time: 9.30am-6pm

Getting There: Visitors are strongly encouraged to take the public transport. Haw Par Villa MRT station is conveniently located next to the Park (approx. 5 mins walk). You can also take bus services no 10, 30, 30e, 51, 143, 188, 200, 175, 176.
Kindly note that there will not be any car parking facilities at Haw Par Villa during the event.

Beside the goodie bag, do check out the series of Tourism50 postcards designed by local freelance illustrator and Architecture student Richard Li, featuring iconic attractions like Haw Par Villa, Sentosa Monorail and Raffles Hotel. Local residents who mail the postcards to their friends and loved ones will stand to win one of the following prizes:

  • 2D1N Grand Hotel Suite Staycation at Raffles Hotel Singapore (includes Limousine Transfer + Breakfast & Dinner for 2) x 1 winner

  • Sentosa Islander Family Membership (1 year) x 50 winners
  • 1 pair of FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX Walkabout Tickets x 50 winners

Last but not least, thanks Shirley from Singapore Tourism Board for the invite, it is a wonderful experience to be back at Haw Par Villa, being able to reminise the good old times.

原为“虎标万金油花园”的虎豹别墅,乃由制造并销售其父亲所创的“虎标万金油”而发迹的胡氏兄弟——胡文虎与胡文豹所拥有。虎豹别墅中的1000 余座雕像,及 150 处立体布景,将中国的神话传说与民间故事生动地演绎出来,从中传达传统价值观念,并让公众能一睹福、禄、寿、孔子、弥勒佛等传奇人物的雕像。

园中“十殿阎罗”(前身“十八层地狱”)的场景,描绘出佛教教义中著名的惩罚与轮回之景;而讲述了玄奘法师前往西天取经的故事场景也是园内的热门景点。其它热门景点包括:二十四孝、白蛇传、三国演义、笑佛、观世音、 姜子牙、 苏武、林则徐、十二生肖等雕像,及胡氏纪念碑。

为庆祝五十周年,新加坡旅遊局展开一系列的活动推广被遗忘的虎豹别墅;于三月分的两个周末 (3月15日, 16日, 22日 及 23 日) 举办,并提供免费导游及举办座谈会,以让公众能更深层了解虎豹别墅的史记、胡氏兄弟的背景、及个别雕像与景点背后的故事。其它节目也包括:说书、短剧、布偶表演、怀旧为主题的美食市场,及古董跳蚤市场。入门免费。

Reliving Memories... (From Black & White to Colours)

(Photo by courtesy of CF Chai)

(Photo by courtesy of CF Chai)

 (Photo by courtesy of CF Chai)

 (Photo by courtesy of CF Chai)

 (Photo by courtesy of CF Chai)

This post is previously featured on XinMSN Rediscover SG!


  1. Those were the days! Yet to go to the re-faced Haw Par Villa...


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