Categories: STUFF TO DO
1 year ago | Updated 1 year ago

Haw Par Villa: A Bizarre Theme Park In Singapore Featuring Chinese Mythology & Folklore To Weird Out Your Afternoon

By Mai WenYi

Haw Par Villa is a theme park known for being fun, freaky and free-of-charge. With a Certificate of Excellence and four stars from Tripadvisor, it’s a pretty well-rated place from locals and visitors alike.

Throw in a look at this guide we’ve done for you and you can be sure that this is a place well-worth your train fare to get here. Here are a few things (we wouldn’t want to spoil all the surprises) you can look forward when you’re there for a visit.

The 10 Courts Of Hell

One of the most popular exhibits, it won’t disappoint you with its multiple sinister statues lining the deep, shadowy tunnel.

It showcases different punishments that humans are said to face in the afterlife before being reborn, this is of course according to Chinese beliefs.

Each court has a judge who deals out punishments for everything that is considered a misdeed. For instance, those who were ungrateful or disrespectful to elders were punished by having their heart cut out.

Ever misused books or wasted food? That’ll get your body sawed in half, would you like it lengthwise or across your stomach?

The Mirror of Retribution is supposed to show if you’re a good or bad person deep down. Gaze into it if you dare…

Learn About Traditional Folklore

Haw Par Villa’s main purpose was to impart the moral teachings of Chinese legends, so it is no surprise that many sculptures here are based on such folk tales. Here are a couple of particularly dramatic ones.

The story of Madame White Snake tells a tale of a snake spirit who fell in love with a human, and whose son expressed great filiality to the point where the gods were moved. She is frequently seen sculpted in human form, sometimes alongside her companion, a green snake she saved from death.

Hounded by a turtle spirit out of spite, she commits crimes in an attempt to overcome obstacles in her path. If you’d like to see more dramatic scenes, try to spot the depiction of her son praying for her with a procession, and the diorama showing an epic battle in her story.

The Investiture of the Gods is based on a real-life event: the overthrowing of the Shang Dynasty’s last king.

In a fanciful retelling involving an offended goddess, crafty spirits and lots of betrayal, the story will show you the creativity of Chinese literature when providing entertainment in a time long past.

“Hidden” Passageways Between Exhibits

Okay, they’re not really hidden since they’ve got a clear path marked out in red flooring, although some will lead to tunnel-like structures for a mini thrill. Nevertheless, it’s pretty cool that some exhibits were designed for people to get up close with.

With those pathways, you can take a peek at the fine details that were given to each sculpture, and while it’s not an interactive exhibit like those at Trick Eye Museum, the photo opportunities here are great as well.

Take a walk around mini towns planted in ponds, or get a selfie with one of these topless mermaids that we photographed from the back for censorship purposes. You could meet them face-to-face if you go for a visit (wink wink).

Strange Exhibits

Not all of the exhibits are based on old legends. Many of them are so strange that we can’t help but think, “what the heck am I looking at?”

Pretty sure grasshoppers being forced to fight at gunpoint by animals isn’t an old mythical tale.

This portion of a diorama showing rats fighting is simultaneously eccentric and arresting, and you can’t help but feel that one of them is going to get hurt.

There you go — this one died tragically.

Not all of the displays are gory, some are just plain weird.

There’s a lot more where that came from and with free entry, what’s stopping you from checking it out? It’ll definitely make for an interesting trip.

Haw Par Villa: 262 Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore 118628 | Opening Hours: 9am to 7pm (Daily), last admission 6pm, last admission to 10 Courts of Hell 5.45pm | Website | Nearest MRT: Haw Par Villa (Circle Line)

Mai WenYi

Under the illusion that desserts don't go to the stomach, but to the heart. There's always room for cake.