Haw Par Villa is the brainchild of millionaire philanthropist Aw Boon Haw, the man behind traditional remedy Tiger Balm. This storied and quirky amusement park is one interesting place, to say the least.
Built in 1937 and found in a remote part of Singapore, the 8.5-hectare attraction is at once a cultural destination known for its eclectic Asian narratives, a natural wonder full of flora and fauna, and an entertainment venue where ghastly stories and horror themes come to life in haunting diorama.
So call us intrigued when the place recently underwent a revamp and has now opened its premises (since 1 July) for visitors once again. Here, we check out what’s new, what’s exciting, and what else you can expect from the wonderfully strange locale. Oh, and did we mention admission is free?
Light it up
One of the first things you’ll notice while heading into the renewed Haw Par Villa at night are all the lights. When the sun sets, get ready to be dazzled by an array of brightly lit installations. The main entrance itself now features a projection mapping wall, which briefly tells the history of the founding of Haw Par Villa. Sections of the park such as the Sculpture Garden have also been upgraded with night lighting so that visitors can enjoy an atmospheric stroll under the moonlight.
Eat, drink, be merry
By popular demand, food and drinks will be available on Haw Par Villa grounds itself, so you can satiate your thirst and hunger pangs without having to leave its sprawling premises. The Sixth Milestone, a café bistro located by the scenic Pagoda Pond serves up kopi and teh (Singapore style coffee and tea), beers, wines and light meals in a balmy alfresco setting. There’s a book borrowing shelf there too, just in case you feel like kicking back and relaxing with a captivating read in hand.
Be taken on a journey
With so much to see and learn, why not let an experienced guide lead you through the park instead during their daily tours. With over 1000 sculptures and dioramas on-site, it’s easy to miss out on hidden finds and off-the-beaten-track sights if you didn’t know better, especially with all the new improvements. Plus, the guide will regale you with tales you’d otherwise not have heard if navigating the grounds on your own.
Stay cool in hell
One of the most hotly anticipated new attractions within Haw Par Villa is the Hell’s Museum. The world’s first museum dedicated solely to exploring the different perspectives of death and the afterlife, this taboo topic will be tackled critically and in a unique way from an Asian perspective within the museum’s air-conditioned grounds when it opens come 28 October. When it opens, Haw Par Villa’s iconic Ten Courts of Hell exhibition will also be found within the space.
That’s not all. Further afield, Haw Par Villa has plans for yet another landmark project that’s arriving in 2022 in the form of the Rise of Asia Museum. The museum will be a showcase of Asian entrepreneurship and the rise of modern Asia, with a focus on economic giants the likes of China, Japan, India and South Korea. Perhaps more relevant to the park than most realise, Haw Par Villa founder Aw Boon Haw was himself an Asian entrepreneur. He embodied the ability to innovate while respecting traditions at the same time to propel his business and philanthropic initiatives to then unseen heights.
Haw Par Villa is located at 262 Pasir Panjang Road. Admission is free. With the reopening, operating hours are now extended, opening from 9am-10pm daily (last entry 9.30pm). Plans to open till midnight are in the works.
Please check the establishment’s website for actual opening hours as well as booking and seating requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.