(Last updated on: 01/04/2020)
Shanghai has so much to offer. Yu Garden is just one of many incredible sites across the city – here is everything you need to know in case you’re planning a visit to this beautiful location!
What is Yu Garden?
Also known as Yuyuan Garden, it is an extensive Chinese garden in Shanghai. With a name that translates to Garden of Happiness, the garden was built in 1559 by Pan Yunduan. This was during the Ming Dynasty. Pan Yunduan built it for his elderly father Pan En, and it took decades to complete due to construction delays.
Over the years, the garden has been inherited and passed on to different owners. Different parts of Yu Garden are now owned by different people and organisations. The garden covers 5 acres (2 hectares) of land laid out in the Suzhou style. There ar six general areas, which are as follows:
- Sansui Hall, also known as Three Tassel Tall and where the Grand Rockery is located.
- Wanhua Chamber, or the Chamber of the Ten Thousand Flowers.
- Dianchun Hall – this translates as Heralding Spring Hall.
- Huijing Hall, where you’ll find the Jade Water Corridor.
- Yuhua Hall, which translates as Jade Magnificent Hall. This is named after a mountain near Xinye.
- Inner Garden, recreated in 1956.
There is so much to see and do at Yu Garden, it is absolutely worth a visit! Read on to find out the best bits…
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Where is Yu Garden?
If you are in Shanghai or you’re planning a trip, getting to Yu Garden is simple. The metro system in the city is great. Take line 10 to Yuyuan Garden Station and walk a few minutes to the garden entrance. The subway costs around £1 and they leave every 5 minutes.
Shanghai is on China’s central coast. It is the biggest city in the country, famous for the Bund and for being a hub of global finance. There are two airports in Shanghai – Pudong and Hongqiao. The bigger of the two, Pudong handles the majority of Shanghai’s domestic and international arrivals.
Things to see and do in Yu Garden
Open from 8.45am – 4.45pm every day except Mondays, there is plenty to do at Yu Garden. You and your family won’t get bored! Here are some of the top sights to see…
Just wandering around Yu Garden is beautiful. There are green plants galore – with pops of red, pink and white – and stunning colourful buildings in a traditional Chinese style. Whether it’s morning or edging into the late afternoon, the shades that fall across the garden as the sun moves are spectacular. If you’re into photography or just love to share your travels on Instagram, then this is the perfect location for you.
The best bits of Yu Garden
The Great Rockery, close to the entrance of the Yu Garden, is 14 metres high (50 feet). It is both the oldest and largest rockery in the region. The Great (or Grand) Rockery is made up of over 2,000 tons of yellow stone!
One of the most famous parts of Yu Garden is the Jade Rock. Located in Yuhua Hall, this is a 5-ton porous boulder that fascinates visitors. Rumour has it that the Jade Rock was intended for the Huizong Emperor. Apparently it was en route to him at the imperial palace in Beijing when the boat carrying it sank. The rock was then rescued from the boat and taken to Yu Garden. If this origin story is true, then it dates back to the 1100s.
There are bridges to walk across, koi to admire in the ponds, nature to discover at every turn. The beautiful Jade Water Corridor is an iconic part of Yu Garden. It is said to evoke feelings of romance and poetry so if you’re lacking some inspiration, it could be a good walk!
If you’re looking for somewhere to completely relax, head to the Inner Garden. Allow yourself to just soak up the atmosphere of pure bliss: the Hall of Serenity and the Towers for Watching Waves are here, and they are as calming as they sound. You can also find the Acting and Singing Stage in the Inner Garden, and you might be lucky enough to catch a performance.
There are many other parts of the Yu Garden: the Ginkgo Tree, the Relaxation Stone Boat, the Depository of Books and Paintings. Maps are available, or you can just walk around aimlessly and see what you stumble upon… There are also guided tours of Shanghai that include visits to Yu Garden, if this is something you’re interested in!
Things to do nearby
Yu Garden is located within the Old City of Shanghai. The old part of the city is steeped in history, and exploring it can be a lot of fun. Under the Protection Plan for the Old City Historical Cultural Scenery Area, the entire area is protected. 34 streets full under this plan, which gives you an idea of how beautiful and important Shanghai’s old city really is.
Just next to the Yu Garden is the City God Temple of Shanghai. It is a folk temple. This is the site of the veneration of three Chinese figure, honoured as the city gods of the area, and the temple commemorates Shanghai’s elevation to municipal status. It is a beautiful and very traditional-looking temple, originally dedicated to the spirit of Jinshan.
There are also plenty of shops and restaurants in the nearby area. You can buy gold, jade, food and drink, jewellery, souvenirs, artwork, herbal medicine and more. These shops all fall under the Yuyuan Tourist Mart. So if you fancy a spot of shopping while you’re in Shangahi, this is the place to be.
Yu Garden is beautiful, and there is so much to see. You can easily spend half a day walking around the garden admiring the greenery, the architecture, the serene atmosphere. If you are planning a trip to Shanghai, then Yu Garden should definitely be on your to-do list…