In 1935, brothers Haw Boon Haw and Haw Boon Par -- creators of Tiger Balm, the camphor and menthol rub that comes in those cool little pots -- took their fortune and opened Tiger Balm Gardens as a venue for teaching traditional Chinese values. They made more than 1,000 statues and life-size dioramas depicting Chinese legends and historical tales, and illustrating morality and Confucian beliefs. Many of these were gruesome and bloody, and some of them were really entertaining. But Tiger Balm Gardens suffered a horrible fate. In 1985, it was converted into an amusement park and reopened as Haw Par Villa. Most of the statues and scenes were taken away and replaced with rides. Well, business did not exactly boom. In fact, the park lost money fast. But recently, in an attempt to regain some of the original Tiger Balm Garden edge, they replaced many of the old statues, some of which are a great backdrop for really kitschy vacation photos, and ditched the rides. They also decided to open the gates free of charge.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Recommended 2010