The Yuyuan gardens are situated not far
from the Bund in the southwestern side of the city. The
Yuyuan is certainly tacky- a kind of China meets Disney
with an added twist- but nevertheless well worth a visit.
The Gardens themselves were completed in 1577 by the
Pan family in Shanghai. The original Gardens were destroyed
twice in the 1800s and have now been restored. They are
usually pretty busy but, are worth looking at if you can
either come during the week or are prepared to face the
masses. The gardens cover a significant space and include
a few halls, springs and other buildings of interest.
The area surrounding the Gardens makes up the Old City
God's Temple Area and was known in colonial times as the
"Chinese City". Today, the area directly around
Yuyuan has been "renovated" somewhat tastelessly
and is a mass of tourist shops and naff decorations. The
Queen of England visited here recently and took tea in
the famous Huxinting Tea House. The tea house is something
of an institution around these parts and while quaint
and interesting, is extortionately over-priced.
What is nice about this area are the numerous antique
markets and the small side streets which have yet to be
renovated by the authorities. There is a great antique
market just off Shanghai "Old street" and another
on a small alley called Dongtai Lu. Be prepared to bargain
hard in these places though. Some of the stuff is genuine
but other "antiques" are less authentic and
its slightly worrying that the most popular English word
in these places seems to be "very old, very cheap"!