Haw Par Villa (also known as Tiger Balm Shrine) is a park in Singapore that I had always wanted to visit, and finally went there during my vacation in the city-state in January 2015.
It is a unique garden, not only grand in architecture and meticulously planned, but is also rich in educational value.
Undisputedly a wonderland, it is beautifully landscaped with thousands of sculptures of all sizes, shapes, colours and poses.
These sculptures artistically portray stories and events based on famous Chinese historical personalities, mythology, legends and folklore.
Managed by SMM Pte Ltd., within the park are the Gods of Happiness, Wealth and Longevity, the Eight Immortals, Virtues and Vices, Saga of the Immortals, Pavilion and Pagoda, Pond of Legacy, Hua Song Museum, Madam White Snake, Journey to the West, The Ten Courts of Hell, Aw Family Memorials and the Haw Par House.
As you may already know, the park (or Villa gardens) was the vision of Aw Boon Haw. He loved the arts, especially in the form of sculptures. Although he did not receive much formal education, he did not lack the understanding on the usefulness of education and resourcefulness.
Therefore, to encourage visitors to his gardens to lead righteous lives, those who have visited the Villa gardens take home with them unforgettable moral lessons through Chinese legends.
Aw Boon Haw and his brother Aw Boon Par from Rangoon, Burma (present-day Yangon, Myanmar) were known as Tiger Balm Kings. They moved their business to Singapore in 1926 and achieved even greater success.
Haw Par Villa, named after the two Aw brothers, opened its doors to the public in 1937. It cost more than a million dollars to build at the time.
Most descriptions are in English and Mandarin Chinese. Some would have translations in Bahasa Malaysia and Japanese too.
Haw Par Villa is just a few steps away from the Haw Par Villa MRT Station on the Circle Line (yellow). Visiting the entire park, to truly read the plaques and understand the stories behind the sculptures, could take half a day. Wear comfortable walking shoes and equip yourself with an umbrella.
Just a heads up, the following are prohibited in the park: pets, outside food and drinks, skateboarding, skate scooter, rollerblading, cycling and motorcycling.
For more information about the Haw Par Villa Tour, call Journeys at 6325 1631.
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