Haw Par Villa photowalk – Entrance Gardens

Haw Par Villa - gateway

Haw Par Villa is a theme park lost in time. Originally called the Tiger Balm Gardens, this quaint park was built by the founders of Tiger Balm – the Aw brothers. It is filled with thousands of statues and dioramas to depicting Chinese mythology, history and traditional values. Under new management in the late 80s, the gardens evolved into a theme park – Haw Par Villa Dragon World, complete with shows and rides.

Today, Haw Par Villa no longer operates as a theme park with entertainment, but is still open as themed gardens. The park is easily accessible with a new MRT station built right next to it (Circle Line, Station CC25). Most of the grounds are still kept tidy. Some statues were given new life with periodic restoration, while others remain weathered, with diminished colours and flaking paint – a reminder of the park’s glorious past.

Step into nostalgia with a 5-part photowalk series of Haw Par Villa.

The Haw Par Villa photowalk

Entrance Gardens | Ten Courts of Hell | Pavilion and Pagoda
Mysterious Gardens | The Hilltop

Haw Par Villa photowalk: Entrance Gardens

Haw Par Villa - mythic beast and warrior

Haw Par Villa is a short walk from the Circle Line MRT station (CC25). The road into the park is lined with this dramatic and flowing rockwork.

Haw Par Villa - entrance

Haw Par Villa - walkway in

If you visit on a weekday, like I did, then it’s a very quiet walk in (and around) the park.

Haw Par Villa - etched in stone

The Aw Brothers’ names etched in a stone tablet at the entrance.

Haw Par Villa - shaded walkway

Haw Par Villa - entrance sign

The park is open from 9:00AM ~ 7:00PM daily.

Haw Par Villa - giants

Giant creatures along the entrance.

Haw Par Villa - haw par tiger

Detail on the main gates – this side showing a tiger and the words “Haw Par”. The other side shows a leopard and “Villa”.

Haw Par Villa - gateway

Sunlight hitting the majestic paifang, or ornamental archway, leading into the gardens. Notice how the area before this is well shaded, and the height of the trees drop here? It creates a rather dramatic effect.

Haw Par Villa - gateway close-up

There are a lot of colourful statues in this first area – an odd mix though. First we have this dragon:

Haw Par Villa - colourful dragon

Then there’s this traditional Thai dancer:

Haw Par Villa - dancer statue

Haw Par Villa - entrance gardens 1

This area is like a typical theme park’s entrance plaza. Nothing much to actually see, but a couple of segmented spots for guests to take photos.

Haw Par Villa - entrance gardens 2

Haw Par Villa - entrance gardens 3

Haw Par Villa - sheep with curved horn

Haw Par Villa - dragon

There is a statue of a dragon… strangely sculpted to like a mascot character. Look at the details of the seams and folds.

Haw Par Villa - cartoony tiger

One of the cartoon tiger characters used to advertise Tiger Balm in the old days.

Haw Par Villa - aged roof

I was attracted to the deteriorating elements of the park. Look at the gradual decay of the roof’s colouring here.

Haw Par Villa - shuttered-down store

A photography and souvenir store that has closed (for good?) with “从简就实,尽力常乐” written on the shutters.

Haw Par Villa - gateway to ten courts of hell

To be continued.
In the next entry, we will descend into the park’s famous Ten Courts of Hell attraction.

The Haw Par Villa photowalk

Entrance Gardens | Ten Courts of Hell | Pavilion and Pagoda
Mysterious Gardens | The Hilltop

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