Hidden among Tanjong Pagar's skyscrapers and hipster bars, you'll find a small 4th-generation workhop that's one of the oldest heritage businesses in Singapore.
Founded in 1896, Say Tiang Hng ("Garden of Western Heaven" in Hokkien) is filled from floor to ceiling with handcrafted wooden statues of deities from the Taoist pantheon, some as large as a chair, some as small as an iPhone.
You'll find fearsome warlords and fair maidens, drunk monks and steely-faced magistrates, rebellious serpents and filial parrots.
Conducted by docents who are friends of the Ng family, the tour will introduce you to the stories of some of these deities, the ancient craft of effigy-making, and the iconography - such as the motifs, facial features, and weapons - used in the depiction of the deities.
You will learn how Grandma Ng brought up 7 kids while running the business, the impact of Singapore's rapid urban renewal on this heritage business, and what the 4th generation is doing today to reinvent the business.
There will not be any hands-on activities, but the artisans will be at the shop during the tour.
The programme is secular in nature and suitable for guests of all religions and races. No prior knowledge of Taoism is required.
Say Tian Hng has been featured by the National Geographic, Asian Civilisations Museum, National Gallery (Singapore), National Heritage Board, South China Morning Post, The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao, and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
Conducted in English
35 Neil Road, S088821
Capped at 10 pax per group. Minimum age of 7.
Wet weather plan
None. The tour is indoors.
$45 per pax
Book a tour with us
We conduct tours only when we get a group of 3 or more.
What our guests say
"It was a fascinating exploration of Chinese cultural heritage and a dying traditional art. The guide was interesting and engaging, and the small group size also provided ample opportunity for in-depth interaction. Recommended even for locals born and bred in Singapore (like me) - a cool way to learn more about our own cultural heritage."
"Despite being a local (albeit of a different religion) it was extremely eye opening to see a dying craft right in the heart of the city. A must go for those interested in Chinese mythology or religion in general."
- Deborah W
"It's a fascinating introduction to Taoism as practised in Singapore (which I have to admit I didn't know much about, despite being Singaporean). Second, it's an intimate look at the history of the family behind Say Tian Hng. And third, it gives a really cool close-up of the techniques used in their craft (with various unexpected details).
With an enthusiastic guide and friendly artisans, the experience feels personal and engaging. Well worth the time."