Halloween To-Do: Go To Hell! (At Haw Par Villa Lah) 👹
STORY: Pearlyn Tham
28 October 2021
TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains content that some may find disturbing.
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Don’t pretend. The last time you visited Haw Par Villa, you were a 10-year-old, it was one hell of an experience, and you had bedwetting nightmares for a week.
Because seeing those infamously macabre dioramas of the punishments that await liars, exam cheats or just plain rude, disrespectful, unfilial and lazy little children in the Ten Courts of Hell was, well, scary as hell.
Say hell-o again to the relaunch of Haw Par Villa and the opening of Hell’s Museum then, said to be the world’s only attraction built around the ideas of death and the afterlife.
The museum, which includes the iconic Ten Courts of Hell “cave”, is open to the public daily from Oct 29. Tickets are $18 per adult and $10 per child for those aged seven to 12 years. For more deets, go here.
And if it’s still the Hell-oween weekend when you are reading this, you will get a limited-edition souvenir if you turn up in full Halloween gear. Don’t say we never scare and share!
Meanwhile, here are 10 things you may not know about Haw Par Villa and the new Hell’s Museum:
1. It's easy to get to - these days!
First, how to get there ah? For the longest time, Haw Par Villa was a tourist attraction under-served by public transport (unless you already live in Pasir Panjang lah). But yay, it now has the Haw Par Villa MRT Station right next to its entrance!
2. Going down to hell is an uphill climb
Don’t be hiao and wear uncomfortable fancy shoes here. Besides how there’s a lot of walking to be done – how else would you be able to really explore and find a pool of topless mermaids with ancient Chinese hairdos – you have to trudge up a steep slope at the main entrance before you reach the first exhibit.
3. The guy who built it was frighteningly rich AF
Aw Boon Haw – yes, he of the Tiger Balm fame – was the pioneering Crazy Rich Asian who built Haw Par Villa in 1937 for his beloved brother. It comprised a garden and a villa, and cost $1m to build. If you think about how you don’t even own a $1m home now, that was a lot of spare change in the 1930s. Now what did your brother give you? His Pokemon trading cards?
4. He could give Disneyland a run for his money
Back in those days, Mr Aw also owned another swanky villa-and-theme-park in Hong Kong. We’re guessing that and not a Birkin was the status symbol of his time.
5. It's an ancient evil
Haw Par Villa is Singapore’s oldest cultural theme park. In comparison, Disneyland in California was built only in 1955.
6. There's a lot of hell here
There are more than 1,000 statues and dioramas at Haw Par Villa, some more bizarre than others, like bloodied fighting rodents and an iconic scene of, let’s say, a very filial woman feeding her hungry MIL in the most intimate way ever.
7. Have an unworldly connection with the afterlife
At Hell’s Museum, you can watch videos and come up close and personal with exhibits that show how death and the afterlife are interpreted across different cultures and religions. Be warned: you can’t be pantang to come here as there is a real coffin “buried” in a see-through plot, a life-like (ha ha) re-enactment of a typical void deck wake, a Day of the Dead altar and even an old-school stone grave.
8. Fake it till you make it
The photos of the “dead” at these exhibits aren’t real. They are composites of various images of people from the past.
9. Kids these days...
Children younger than nine are no longer “encouraged” to visit Hell’s Museum and the Ten Courts of Hell, due to the potentially PTSD exhibits. Now then you say!
10. Hell freezes over - well, not quite
And, the most important thing you want to know, the Ten Courts of Hell are now newly air-conditioned. Because in our 32 deg C Singapore weather, really can die.