This Ancient Theme Park Is All Set for a Makeover
The brainchild of two Myanmar-Chinese brothers, the attraction was rich in Chinese folklore and mythology. They named the park Tiger Balm Gardens after the ointment which they had developed.
The park was well known for its exhibits depicting punishments in hell which include impalement, decapitation, slitting of body parts and being thrown into a volcanic pit. The statues reflecting elements of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian folklore portray gruesome forms of punishment for sinners.
The park also hosted many sculptures showing the importance of good morals. Haw Par Villa is now the only one of its kind, after its sister park in Hong Kong was demolished in 1998.
Visitor numbers have declined drastically over the past two decades - an estimated 200,000 people visit every year, down from the million or so - a far cry from its heyday. The site was handed over to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in 1979, and is now to be refurbished by tourism company Journeys over the next three years.
Plans are being made to transform the park into a place for art exhibitions, performances, flea markets, yoga, taiji and wushu sessions. Hopefully the park which pre-dates Disneyland will get a new lease of life and be restored to the glory of yore.