Bring the Kids to Buddhist Hell at Haw Par Villa

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Aug. 6 2013 8:19 AM

Tour the Horrors of Buddhist Hell at this Graphically Violent Theme Park

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a new travel blog. Like us on FacebookTumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

Brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par gained fame and fortune in the early 20th century selling their self-made Tiger Balm, but their legacy goes beyond ointment. In 1937, with the aim of instilling traditional Chinese values, the siblings built Haw Par Villa, a Singapore park with 1000 statues and 150 dioramas depicting surreal scenes from Chinese mythology, aspects of Confucianism, and terrifying visions of Buddhist hell.

The Confucian virtue of filial piety finds its expression in a statue of a woman breastfeeding her starving, toothless mother-in-law. The giant blue crab with a woman's smiling head plopped on top is of murkier mythological origin, as is a domestic scene showing a clothed, bipedal reindeer and tortoise sitting at a table drinking tea.


The garden's most memorable attraction is its Ten Courts of Hell section, which provides a vivid look at the punishments awaiting wicked souls in the layers of the underworld. Decapitations, disemboweling, and drownings in "Filthy Blood Pond" are all on show. 

Unconventional theme parks:



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows


The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. What Exactly Is Holding Us Back?

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 5:56 PM Watch Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, and More on New YouTube Channel
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?