Yuyuan (豫园), or Yu Garden, is the perfect embodiment of Chinese architectural style. This classical garden, located in the center of Shanghai, features a planning emphasis on feng shui with an asymmetrical design and landscaping elements used interchangeably. The park has pavilions, bridges and many secluded trails, which, all adds up to a must-visit place in Shanghai.
Yu Garden was built 400 years ago by a private owner, Pan Yunduan, and as legend has it was a place for his parents to spend their remaining days in peace. The garden was handed down through the family until it changed hands and was restored in 1956 and later opened to the public in 1961.
At the time, Yu Garden’s design is very difficult because of the limited space and lack of funds. Due to a lack of funds, Yuyuan took 28 years to be completed. But don’t let the small size fool you, it’s packed with unique attractions consisting of pavilions, halls, rockeries, and ponds.
There are six main scenic areas here with the key highlights not to be missed:
Sansuitang Scenic Area 三穗堂景区
- Cui Xiu Tang 萃秀堂 – meditation hall
- Yuanshi Iron Lion 元代铁狮 – two Chinese lions made from iron cast way back in 1290.
- Big Rockery 大假山 – created by hand from Wukang Yellowstone from Zhejiang.
- Yangshan Hall 仰山堂 – built in 1866 it faces the rockery
- Sansui Hall 三穗堂 – built in 1760 it also features the includes the Grand Rockery 大假山
Wanhualou Scenic Area 万花楼景区
- Gingko Tree 银杏 – at 21 metres high it is believed to be over 400 years old
- Wanhualou 万花楼 – chamber building
- Double Gallery/retreat 复廊 – use of a divider to create different feelings
- Yule pavilion 鱼乐榭 – admire the koi swimming in the pond below
Dianchun Hall area 点春堂景区
- Heralding Spring Hall 和煦堂 – built in 1820
- Big Stage 打唱台 – for small performances
- Dragon wall 穿云龙墙 – or Yunlong wall, featuring stone dragons. There are several dragon walls throughout the garden
- Dianchun Hall 点春堂 – the hall features an ancient painting and several historic artifacts, some from a failed uprising which was planned in the building.
Huijing Hall area 会景楼景区
- Jade Water gallery 积玉水廊 – 100 meters long corridor over the koi pond
- San qui Bridge 三曲桥 – small stone path bridges that lead through differing scenery
- Nine Lion Study 九狮轩 – open pavilion
- Laojun Temple 老君殿 – a temple for Laozi, the creator of Daoism
- Huijing Hall 会景楼 – almost at the center of the garden
Yuhua Hall Scenic Area 玉华堂景区
- Library 藏书楼 – in the day it was for the study of painting and calligraphy
- Huanlong Bridge 环龙桥 – stone arch bridge
- Deyue Chamber 得月楼 – contains many cultural relics and was a hall for watching the moon
- Yuhua Hall 玉华堂 – a reading room
- Hanbi Tower 涵碧楼 – built from wood imported from Myanmar it features many carvings, artworks, and Qing era furniture.
Inner Garden area 内园景区
- Ancient stage 古戏台 – it was once one of China’s most famed theatre’s performing local variants of Chinese Opera
- Towering pavilion 耸翠亭 – a two-level pavilion atop a rockery
- Jingguan Hall 静观 – a place of solitude
- Nine Dragon pool 九龙池 – a pond area with waterfall, how to make nine dragons? Four stone dragons, their reflections, and the pool is the shape of a dragon.
- Inner Garden 内园 – originally built in 1709.
You can spend several hours here, navigating the garden and its interesting nooks and crannies, and the traditional architecture of the surrounding buildings which are filled with stores, mostly touristy, but interesting regardless. Do note that this area gets busy on weekends and public holidays. Shops will be open at night but the garden attractions will be closed.
Huxinting Tea House 上海湖心亭茶楼 and Jiuqu Bridge 九曲桥
The Huxinting Teahouse is located in the middle of a small goldfish filled lake connected by the famous zig-zagging Jiuqu Bridge. It abuts Yu Garden and does not require a ticket for entry. The building was built in 1784 and became a teahouse in 1885 and today you can still come here to enjoy a range of traditional Chinese teas and tea snacks.
Generally, foreigners are offered one format being tea selection and tea eggs, tofu and rice cookies with prices ranging from 60 to 300+RMB. If you can read Chinese, there is a different menu.
The lower floor offers teaware and tea for sale while tea is served on the upper floor with views over the pond.
You can take the Jiqui Bridge through Huxinting Teahouse to the Yu Garden entry without needing to buy anything.
Yuyuan Tourist Mart/Bazaar 豫园商城
Yuyuan Mart or Bazaar surrounds the Yu Garden and City God Temple from Fuyou Road in the north, to Jiuxiaochang Road in the east side, and Fangbang Road in the south. It is centralised along Yuyuan Old Street. Here you will find lots of traditional items, crafts, tea etc.
It gets crowded but worthwhile for the ancient architecture with shops all located in the traditional Ming-era buildings. There is also a couple of large malls namely the Yuyuan Tourism Mall and Yuyuan Shopping Mall.
You can easily spend a bit of time here window shopping and snacking, and also easily get lost so keep your phone charged and have a timed meeting point for group members just in case.
At night it’s very colorful everything lit up in true Chinese style. Also, you do not need a ticket to walk around this area.
Shops here open from around 10am till 10pm.
Attractions near Yuyuan
A short taxi ride
Nearby places to stay
Getting There: Take Metro Line 10 to Yuyuan Station. Exit 1.
40 RMB (Apr.1-Jun. 30; Sep.1-Nov.30)
30 RMB (Jul. 1-Aug.31; Dec.1-the next Mar.31)
Children under 6 free.
Opening Hours: 8:30-17:30 (March 1 to October 31), 8:30-17:00 (November 1 to February 28).
Address: 137 Anren Jie, near Fuyou Lu. 豫园, 安仁街137号, 近福佑路
Chinese Name: 豫园
Yu Garden Gallery
Including maps of the garden area and a map of the shopping area, Yuyuan Mart. Click for larger images.