Yuyuan Garden

Written by Vivian Updated Jun. 30, 2021

Yuyuan Garden, located in the center of Shanghai's Old Town and next door to Mandarin Gardens Bazaar, is considered one of 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.

Yu Garden
A corner of Yu Garden

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.

Note: Yuyuan Garden will be closed every Monday for maintenance since December 2nd, 2019 (except for Chinese public holidays).

Highlights of Yu Garden

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 Pavilion 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 ambiance, 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.

Nearby Attractions:

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.

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 Pavilion (Eaglewood Pavilion)

Chen Xiang Pavilion is well-known for the eaglewood Avalokitesvara (Buddhist bodhisattva enlightened being) protected and worshipped 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.

Shanghai Old Street

Shanghai Old Street is a unique scenic spot near Yu Garden. On this street, visitors can appreciate sights from 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 priceless cultural and commercial significance.

How to Get to Yuyuan Garden

Yuyuan Garden is located at No. 132 Anren Street, in Shanghai's Old Town.

You can take Metro Line 10 or any of the buses nos. 11, 26, 64, 71, 145, 581, 715, 730, 736, 801, 926, 929, 932, 969 or 980.

Ticket Price: 40 Yuan per person.

Opening Hours: From 8:45 AM to 4:45 PM, daily.

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