The Yu Garden, or Yu Yuan, is the China tours garden, to visit while in Shanghai. This may not mean that much since it is the only Chinese classical garden that I know of in the city. Compared to the famed gardens of Suzhou, Yu Yuan is massive. It is in fact several gardens rolled up into one. A visit involves strolling around a labyrinth of small gardens filled with ponds, pavilions (30 in all) and rockeries. The whole complex is surrounded by a dragon wall.
The Yu Yuan was constructed between 1559 and 1577 by a local official Pun Yunduan in honour of his father Yu Yuan. As the garden is so large it is easy to get lost. The best way to approach a visit without losing yourself is to enter by the Yangtze River cruises main entrance and to proceed clockwise from garden to garden. I felt that this made my visit very satisfactory. Another important note about your visit to the Yu Yuan is that it is very popular with tourist hence very crowded.
Thankfully that garden is so large that you can avoid the crowds during some of your visit. Personally I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Yu Yuan. Although it is not superior to the Classical gardens in Suzhou in any noticeable way, I enjoyed the Yu Yuan more. Perhaps it was because the whole concept of the Chinese classical garden was growing on me or maybe it was because for the size of the complex, I felt Shanghai tour package that I was getting more bang for my buck. Whatever, I would not leave Shanghai without a visit.
The Yu Yuan is open from 8:30am to 5pm, daily. It costs Y30 for a Shangri-la travel visit.
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