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 Yu Yuan - a Garden Oasis in the Center of Shanghai's Old City

Yu Yuan - a Garden Oasis in the Center of Shanghai's Old City

Written by CindyUpdated Sep. 26, 2023

Yu Garden is believed to have been built in the Ming Dynasty, more than 400 years ago. The exquisite layout, beautiful scenery, and the artistic style of the garden architecture have made the garden one of the highlights of Shanghai.

Yu Garden Facts

  • Chinese: 豫园 Yù Yuán /yoo ywen/ 'Happiness Garden'
  • Area: 20,000 square meters (about five acres)
  • Age: more than 400 years
  • Popular activities: photograph ancient architecture, explore Yuyuan Bazaar
  • Suited to: anyone
  • Time needed: 1–2 hours

What to See in Yu Garden

Yu GardenYu Garden

Yu Garden is composed of six scenic areas: Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, Yuhua Hall, and the Inner Garden.

The highlights of the garden are: classical Chinese architecture, exquisite sculptures and carvings, and the busy Yuyuan bazaar.

Classical Chinese Garden Architecture

Yu Garden was a private garden of the Pan family in the Ming Dynasty. It was the largest and most prestigious of its era in Shanghai after it was completed.

The garden is unique in its design. It perfectly blends decorative halls, elaborate pavilions, glittering pools, zigzag bridges, pagodas, archways, and impressive rockeries.

Feel relaxed as you wander through the corridors and archways, stop to gaze at the famed Exquisite Jade Rock – a 5-ton, porous, beautifully-shaped, spiky rock – or climb to the top of the Great Rockery that was built with thousands of tons of stone and has a height of 14 meters.

You can walk to the Jiu Qu Bridge (the Nine-Turn Bridge). Chinese people believe that the number nine symbolizes auspiciousness. Walking across the Jiu Qu Bridge is said to bring people good luck. The Jiu Qu Bridge leads to Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse - the oldest teahouse in Shanghai.

For those looking for a glimpse into ancient China, as reflected in movies and books, this is the place to be.

Exquisite Sculptures and Carvings

When walking in the garden, you do not just focus on the huge items like buildings and bridges, but keep your eyes on the details. Much of the garden's beauty is in the tiny carvings and sculptures.

You will find many clay sculptures and brick carvings, calligraphic and painting works of famous artists, as well as some inscriptions and couplets.

Yuyuan Bazaar

Yu BazzarYuyuan Bazaar

Yuyuan Bazaar is right next to Yu Garden. It has a great number of small streets and lanes where you can find many restaurants, tea houses, and shops. It is a good place to sample some local snacks and buy some souvenirs.

The most popular local snacks are Yangchun noodles, steamed stuffed buns, fried stuffed buns, crispy fried cakes, and chop rice cakes.

In the bazaar, Yuyuan Old Street offers traditional Chinese commodities, such as Chinese lanterns, decorations, silk, antiques, arts, handicrafts, craftworks, jewels, and so much more.

The Best Time for a Visit

The best time to visit Yu Garden is in spring when the garden is dotted with green trees and blossoming flowers.

If you are in Shanghai for a few days, visit the garden on a weekday as it will be less crowded than on a weekend.

If you do not mind large crowds, you can visit the garden during the Spring Festival when the garden will be decorated with beautiful lanterns of dragons and phoenix.

Travel Essentials for Planning a Trip

  • Location: It is located in the center of Shanghai's Old City, a few blocks south of the Bund.
  • Transport: Take Subway Line 10 and get off at Yuyuan Station.
  • Open: 8:30am–5:30pm (Mar–Oct), 8:30am–5pm (Nov–Feb), closed on every Monday (except national holidays)
  • Entrance fee: 40 yuan (Apr–Jun; Sep–Nov), 30 yuan (Jul–Aug;Dec–Mar)

Nearby Attractions

  • The Bund: Symbolic of colonial Shanghai, the Bund has dozens of buildings of various architectural styles.
  • Nanjing Road is Shanghai's busiest shopping street lined with top-end shopping malls, old-brand shops, and traditional eateries.
  • City God Temple: It is one of the most popular scenic areas as well as a shopping center for travelers.

Tour Yu Garden with Us

Yu GardenYu Garden

Yu Garden is a classic Chinese garden with a rich history and culture. English signage and introductions in the garden are limited. Traveling with a professional guide is advisable. You might also want to know more about the history and the design philosophy behind Yu Garden. Our local guide is knowledgeable and happy to share these with you.We are more than happy to offer a guide service and tailor-make a tour for you.

Here are our most popular tours including Yu Garden:

Are the above tours not suitable for you? We have more Shanghai tours. Our tours can be tailor-made based on your requirements and budget. Please feel free to contact us.

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