Category Archives: East Asia

3 Wonderful & Strange Singapore Destinations

Haw Par Villa Laughing Buddha

Haw Par Villa Laughing Buddha (Pic gratuitousgeek)

This is a guest post by Gaby Lucius writing for

In the course of my travels, I’ve had some pretty run-of-the mill vacations.  You know, the kind where you spend your time lying on the beach, checking out the buffets and throwing back a few drinks at the hotel bar.  While there’s nothing wrong with laid back getaways, the vacations I look back on most fondly are the ones where I experienced something out of the ordinary.

My husband and I recently went on a two week excursion to Singapore and these three particular strange Singapore destinations made it a trip I’ll never forget.

Human-headed crab at Haw Par Villa

Haw Par Villa

Haw Par Villa

I had to start with Haw Par Villa because it is, hands down, one of the weirdest places I’ve ever experienced.  Mike heard about it from a friend who told us that it wasn’t to be missed.  He was right!

Opened in 1937 by founders Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, Haw Par Villa was created as a venue for learning about traditional Chinese values.   The park houses over 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas depicting scenes from Chinese mythology and folklore.

The park is a bit run down, but it somehow just adds to the peculiar ambiance of the place. Our favorite (and the most famous) exhibit was the Ten Courts of Hell, which featured grisly depictions of Hell in Chinese mythology and Buddhism.   It was gory, violent and absolutely marvelous!  Just a note to readers, that particular exhibit isn’t what I would call child-friendly. [Editor – am particularly loving the name “Filthy Blood Pond” in that link].

Besides the awesomeness mentioned above, there are plenty of other interesting statues to enjoy and almost all are accompanied by the recounting of a Chinese legend.

You will do a ton of walking, so wear comfy shoes and bring water.  Mike and I spent nearly three hours exploring and loved every moment.

Night Safari


Night Safari

Night Safari

I really, really love animals.  I’m of the opinion that no trip is complete without some manner of animal interaction, whether it be at a zoo or in the wild.  While looking through some travel guides, I stumbled upon the Night Safari and was instantly smitten with the idea.

Here’s the lowdown.  The Night Safari is an open-air zoo set in a tropical forest that is only open at night.   It is divided into eight geographical zones, and can be explored on foot or by tram.  Since the animals are separated from guests by natural barriers rather than cages, you have the opportunity to get very up close and personal with them.

Mike and I read quite a few reviews and decided to follow the advice of former visitors.  We arrived at 7 PM on a weeknight, and ate a leisurely dinner at the Ulu Ulu Safari Restaurant while the crowds bum rushed the zoo entrance.  We rolled into the park around 8:30, avoided the lines by purchasing our tickets online and skipped the show in favor of enjoying the zoo less crowded.

We took our time on the paths.  If you’re patient, you can really see the animals doing their thing.  As for the tram, it was fun, but a bit crowded.

Oh!  One last thing; be sure to wear some mosquito repellant.  Holy bloodsuckers, Batman!

MINT Museum of Toys

MINT Museum of Toys

MINT Museum of Toys

Mike and I are both comic book geeks, so when we heard about the wall of Silver to Platinum age comics at the MINT Museum of Toys, we had to see it.

The Mint Museum of Toys was purpose-built as a museum for toys, to showcase the personal collection of Chang Yang Fa.  Let me tell you, Mr. Chang has one hell of a collection!  MINT stands for “Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys” and since the majority of the vintage toys are in mint condition, the name fits well.

Over 50,000 toys from all over the world can be seen, including Disneyana, Astro Boy, Batman, and Tintin.  One of the coolest things about the museum is that its custom designed to protect the fragile toys from the environment.  The museum has no windows so UV-rays are prevented from reaching the exhibits.   The acrylic shelves are formatted with LED lights and are designed so that shadows cannot be cast on the toys.  The building itself is incredibly beautiful and has won quite a few architectural awards.

It costs $15 to get in, but I think it’s definitely worth it.

If you’re planning on taking a holiday to Singapore, I can’t stress enough how essential it is to visit Haw Par Villa, the Night Safari and The MINT Museum of Toys.  Don’t miss these fabulous destinations or you’ll regret it!

When she’s not jet setting to strange locales, faking her way through foreign language phrasebooks and eating things that would make Andrew Zimmern cringe, Gaby Lucius enjoys writing freelance for