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Capturing Childhood Memories & Celebrating Singapore's Dragon Playground This Chinese New Year

Even as the world keeps turning, there’s a special kind of wonder in how our childhood experiences stick with us. They’re like bright pictures in our minds, as real as dreams. These memories can fill us with a longing for a simpler time when everything seemed possible. For many Singaporeans, a treasured memory is the one-of-a-kind Dragon Playground in Toa Payoh.

At our sister property, Fairmont Singapore, we recognize the significance of shared cultural memories, especially when it comes to celebrating traditions. That’s why we chose the iconic Dragon Playground for our 2024 Lunar New Year red packets. It’s more than just a place to put lucky money; it’s a celebration of Singapore’s unique heritage and a symbol of the shared experiences that make us who we are.


Our 2024 red packets hold more than just well wishes! Emblazoned on each one is a beautiful illustration of the legendary Toa Payoh Dragon Playground, its vibrant colors and playful design a delightful reminder of childhood adventures.

But the magic doesn’t stop there. Tucked away within each red packet is a QR code, your key to unlocking the Dragon Playground’s fascinating story. Scan it, and embark on a nostalgic journey through time. Discover its history, the creative spark behind its design, and how it’s woven itself into the lives of Singaporeans for generations. It’s a chance to reconnect with this cherished landmark and feel the warmth of shared memories.


Singapore’s playgrounds of the 1960s were all about practicality – slides, swings, and see-saws were the norm. But the 1970s saw a shift towards more imaginative spaces. The Housing Development Board (HDB) designed a new series of playgrounds, with the first batch featuring playful animal themes. The next series drew inspiration from familiar local symbols, and what better symbol for Singapore than the mighty dragon, a creature woven into Asian folklore?

Enter the Toa Payoh Dragon Playground. Built-in 1979, it was the brainchild of HDB architect Mr. Khor Ean Ghee. This wasn’t the first dragon playground – an earlier version graced Toa Payoh Town Garden (now Park) but proved challenging to build due to its complex design, including a metal head, long spine, and circular monkey bars. Mr. Khor’s playground offered a simpler, yet equally captivating, design for generations of Singaporean children to enjoy.

A far cry from today’s plastic havens, the dragon playground designed by Mr. Khor Ean Ghee in the 1970s was a masterpiece. Unlike the mass-produced equipment of modern playgrounds, it was handcrafted and adorned with vibrant mosaic tiles, a true work of art. Its intricate details and unique design made it a landmark, standing out not just as a place to play, but as a piece of Singapore’s cultural and historical tapestry.

This innovative concept’s success led to a revamped version at Lorong 6. This iteration featured a grander head adorned with terrazzo tiles, exciting slides, and a colourful, climbable body made of rings. The design’s popularity sparked the creation of similar dragon playgrounds across HDB estates, each with its own size and configuration. Look for these smaller variations at Lorong 1 and in front of Block 570 in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

For many Singaporeans, the Dragon Playground isn’t just concrete and tiles; it’s a symbol of a bygone era. It represents a time when playgrounds were more than just slides and swings, but spaces that fostered imagination and left a lasting impression on childhood memories.


At Fairmont Singapore, we cherish traditions and the memories they hold. The iconic Dragon Playground isn’t just a structure; it’s a symbol of the vibrant communities that bloomed in Singapore’s public housing estates. It embodies the resilience, creativity, and spirit of this city’s people.

As you share our 2024 red packets, we invite you to reminisce about your own adventures at the Dragon Playground. Let these packets spark conversations with family, friends, and colleagues. Remember the importance of safeguarding our heritage and passing these stories on to future generations, ensuring the spirit of the Dragon Playground lives on.

This blog post was published on 17 January 2024.

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