Yuyuan Garden, located in the center of Shanghai's Old Town and next door to Mandarin Gardens Bazaar, is considered one of the the city's finest, most lavish Chinese gardens. A traditional private Chinese garden park, Yuyuan Garden is replete with beautiful pavilions (it has some 30 Ming (CE 1368-1644) and Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasty pavilions), lotus ponds, stone bridges and - of course - rock formations. The garden park was built in typical Suzhou style (i.e., the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, not the city of Suzhou in Anhui Province) in CE 1559, during the reign (CE 1521-1566) of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty by a former treasurer of Sichuan Province, Pan Yunduan, in honor of his father. Considered the best garden in Southeast China, Yuyuan Garden has maintained its classic beauty over the centuries.
The garden park includes such highlights as the Hall of Jade Magnificence, the Hall of Heralding Spring, the Ten-Thousand-Flower Pavilion, the Gathering the Moon Pavilion, the Pavilon of Spring, the Inner Garden, the Lotus Pool, and the Grand Rockery, to name only a few. The windows of the halls reveal glimpses of trees, ponds, streams and corridors. The eaves of the halls and pavilions are decorated with dragons, dogs and elephants in an amusing arrangement (e.g., the dragons are depicted with wide-open gapes as if trying to swallow the corners of upturned eaves). The overall arrangement of the individual elements of the garden, from the placement of the trees and ponds to the halls and pavilions, is carefully planned so as to enhance the garden's harmony and ambience, yet nothing about this arrangement seems forced or unnatural.
The Pavilion of Spring in the northeast corner of the park has an interesting history as the headquarters of the anti-imperialist "Little Sword Society", which, in 1853, led an uprising against the Qing Dynasty rule. The society occupied Shanghai for 17 months. A number of artifacts from this historical period, including weapons, coins and other objects used by the Little Sword Society are now housed in a special exhibition hall.
A major restoration of Yuyuan Garden was commenced some years after the establishment of the PRC. The garden park was formally opened to the public in 1961. Yuyuan Garden's Huxin Ting teahouse is very popular with locals and tourists alike, and there are numerous nearby kiosks and stalls that sell delicious Chinese snacks and desserts.
The City God Temple: In the art competition hall of the City God Temple, visitors can appreciate folk art such as cock fighting, acrobatic performances, handwriting, and so more.
Tickets: 10 RMB
Hours: 8:00 am – 4:30 am
Getting there by bus: Bus 11, Bus 42, Bus 64, Bus 126, Bus 66, or Bus 926
Tips: Ever since ancient times, the commercial activities in the City God Temple have been always prosperous. The many customs and ancient shops reproduce the glorious scenery of old Shanghai; the temple can even be seen as a living fossil of the ancient market in Shanghai. Small steamed meat dumplings in a basket at the Nan Xiang Steamed Bun Shop are quite delicious; however, visitors must often wait in line due to their popularity. The most dedicated should aim to arrive and buy before 11:00 am or after 2:00 pm to avoid crowds. As well, to try countless other varieties of meat dumplings and some local Shanghai snacks like green bean cake, venture farther into the two small halls inside the shop. Only two kinds of steamed meat dumplings are near the stairs because the sales counter there only provides fast food for passersby. The fried dishes at Lv Bo Lang are tasty as well, and their prices are relatively cheap.
Chen Xiang Pavalion (Eaglewood Pavilion): Chen Xiang Pavilion is well-known for the eaglewood Avalokitesvara (Buddhist bodhisattva enlightened being) protected and worshipped in within. Actually, the original Avalokitesvara statue was destroyed in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (Chinese Cultural Revolution) that lasted from 1966 to 1976. The Avalokitesvara statue that is enshrined and worshipped in Chen Xiang Pavilion today was donated by Hong Kong believers.
Tickets: 5 RMB
Hours: 5:00 am – 5:00 pm
Getting there by bus: Chen Xiang Pavilion is the terminal station of Bus 932 (the crossing of Fuyou Road and Lishui Road) and Bus 569 (the crossing of Henan South Road and Mingxing Street). Besides, visitors can also take Bus 801, Bus 920, Bus 826, Bus 930, or the Jinjiang Singhtseeing Bus at Renmin Road (the new north gate).
Shanghai Old Street: Shanghai Old Street is a unique scenic spot near Yu Garden. On this street, visitors can appreciate sights to all sides, shop, relax, and get to know the traditional culture of Shanghai. In history, Shanghai Old Street used to be named “Miao Qian Da Jie” (meaning “the street before the temple”). The earliest money shops, old-style Chinese private banks, restaurants, teahouses, theatrical stages, and trading companies all gathered on this street. It has always been the corridor that connects Shi Liu Pu (Little East Gate), the City God Temple, and Yu Garden. The unique location and landscape of society along the way give Shanghai Old Street much priceless cultural and commercial significance.
Getting there by bus: Bus 11, Bus 926, or Bus 920