Located in the centre of Shanghai’s “Old Town” is Yuyuan Gardens, one of the regions most famous classical gardens dating back to the 16th Century (Ming Dynasty). During my weekend in the city I had the opportunity to have an explore –

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Although only covering 5 acres the layout has been intricately designed to make it feel much bigger with “dragon walls” separating a total of 6 sections containing numerous ponds, doorways, bridges and rockeries lined with ornamental trees (one is claimed to be over 400 years old). If you’re looking for a stereotypical image of ancient China then this is the palce to come.

Unfortunately the experience is somewhat marred by the hordes of Japanese and Korean tour groups who pour through the site constantly with their guides loudly explaining the historical minutia. Not quite the tranquil retreat that the gardens original designer, Pan Yunduan, had imagined it to be yet if you can look beyond this intrusion it’s a remarkable place which has been lucky to survive China’s turbulent history.

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