Haven't you ever wondered what is really going on in China? About the enticing innovations unfolding on the ground in the world's second largest economy that the US mainstream media don't teach you? Yeah, me too!
That's just one part of why this December of 2018, I decided to embark on a spontaneous trip to Shanghai to visit my good friend Arielle El Bagory, from Arielle Abroad. Arielle had recently moved to Shanghai for a work assignment and had a list of amazing local attractions to cross of her list in the city. So we decided to check out the famous Yu Garden during my visit!
About the Yu Garden
I came to learn that the Yu Garden has been around since the Ming Dynasty (1559). We could not believe how well the Garden was preserved, and on top of that, how this 500+ year old garden was just sitting tucked away in the middle of the bustling city of Shanghai! You will realize when traveling in Shanghai that there is a strong juxtaposition between traditional Chinese architecture and the modern skyscrapers that fill the sky today.
Outside of the garden, you'll find the streets with souvenir shops where you can purchase local delights like dried fruits, pearls, silks, etc.! There is a full range of restaurants here too, from your Starbucks and McDonald's to authentic Chinese cuisines.
How long should you plan your visit at the Yu Garden?
I would estimate around 3-4 hours when visiting the Yu Garden area. There is plenty of souvenir shopping and delicious local cuisine to eat around the garden. We ate lunch after our morning visit at the Yu Garden food court - although this is on the pricier side of foods for lunch, the selection in energy inside are worth the visit. We were amazed at the wide range of dumpling options. Make sure to try soup dumplings, known as Xiao Longbao in Shanghai.
How much does it cost to get into the Yu Garden?
The cost of visiting Yu Garden ranges between 30 - 40 Yuan (around ~$4 - $6) depending on the time of year of the visit. These prices change depending on seasonality (spring being the high season).
What's the best time of year to visit the Yu Garden?
The best time of year to visit the Yu Garden is throughout the week during the spring. The garden is especially packed during the weekends in Chinese Holidays. Arielle and I visited in December and found it to be quite cold--35 degrees to be exact! So if visiting Shanghai around Christmas time, definitely pack a serious jacket!
Where to stay in Shanghai?
Thanks to my Marriott points, we stayed at affiliate hotel Renaissance Yu Garden in Shanghai, which I recommend a thousand times over for anyone figuring out where to stay in Shanghai. The property is walking distance from the Yu Garden & the metro station. The rooms, service, and breakfast are unparalleled! They even have a robot that will deliver items such as water, dental kits, etc. to your room. So cool!
How to get to the Yu Garden?
If you decide to stay elsewhere and are unsure how to get to the Yu Garden, you can take the subway line 10 which will stop directly at the Yu Garden. The metro system in Shanghai is massive, affordable and easy to navigate. I highly recommend using it during your trip to Shanghai.
Here is a gallery of photos to inspire your visit!: