Located in the Huangpu District of Shanghai, next to the City of God Temple, the Yuyuan Garden, or Yu Garden, has been around for more than 400 years.
The garden was designed and laid out in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty by the wealthy Pan family designed. It was the largest garden of its kind at the time.
What to expect at the Yuyuan Garden
The five-acre garden is spectacular in its scale and artistry and a must-see while visiting Shanghai. It features classical gardens containing towering rockeries, elegant pagodas, a zigzag bridge, graceful arches, glimmering pools and impressive carvings.
Intricate etchings and sculptures lay scattered throughout the garden. A leisurely walk through the garden will reveal these little treasures. Besides the carvings, you’ll also find calligraphic art and several interesting paintings by famous artists.
The Great Rockery
The Great Rockery is fourteen metres high and was built from thousands of tons of rock. It is the oldest and highest rockery south of the Yangtze River.
From the top, you get a beautiful bird’s eye view of the garden. At its base, you’ll find curio shops and Cuixiu Hall, a quiet and elegant example of Chinese architecture surrounded by trees and colourful flowers.
Close by, the towering Sansui Hall, was built in 1760 to entertain guests features five great halls. Subsequently, it became a place of government ceremonies and a meeting place for scholars and gentlemen.
The Exquisite Jade Rock
The Exquisite Jade Rock is the true treasure of the garden. It’s nearly 3.3 meters in height, porous and spiky. It features 72 holes throughout. When smoke is blown from the bottom it mysteriously filters its way through all of the holes.
Throw water from the top and the same happens. Yuhua Hall faces the Rock and was built expressly for visitors to enjoy the views of the rock.
The Yuyuan Bazaar
Right next to the gardens, Yuyuan Bazaar beckons visitors with souvenirs, food, crafts and jewellery all up for sale in the maze of narrow streets and lanes.
Here you can savour some of the tastiest Shanghai foods including traditional steamed or fried filled buns, rice cakes and aromatic noodles. You can also buy traditional souvenirs like Chinese lanterns, antiques and crafts.
The Nine-Bend Bridge
The Nine Bend Bridge is just outside the entrance to the garden. The Chinese believe that the number nine brings good fortune and walking along the bridge is believed to bring people luck.
The bridge is constructed from jade stones and granite. It’s flanked by pavilions each equipped with stone benches. Decked with colourful lights, an evening stroll across the bridge is a romantic experience. (If you can ignore the crowds of Shanghainese couples with the same idea!)
The bridge leads to the beautiful Huxinting Teahouse at the Yu Garden pond. It was built in 1855 and is the oldest teahouse in Shanghai. It remains in use today.
Things to know before you visit Yuyuan Garden
- All kinds of cultural activities and exhibits take place at the Yuyuan Garden. If you time your visit, you could get to see some of them.
- Plan about two hours to wander around the garden and take in all its sights.
- The best time to visit the gardens is in spring and autumn when the garden is resplendent with colour.
- If you have a choice, avoid the weekends when the gardens can become very busy. (Trust us on this one.)
- The gardens are open between 8:45am and 4:15pm.
- By public transportation, there are several buses that will take you to the Yuyuan Station. Even easier for tourists is to take Metro Line 10, which stops at Yuyuan Station.