The Humble Administrator’s Garden

The Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest and most famous of Suzhou’s classical gardens. Dating from 1509 (Ming Dynasty), it was originally the work of a retired administrator who felt cultivating a garden was a humble life. The garden is much changed from when it was first landscaped with the current appearance largely a Qing Dynasty creation. The garden is split into east, middle and west sections and is dotted with islands, pagodas and halls. Its layout is much admired for allowing beautiful and unique vistas from every point of its 5.2 hectare area. Keep an eye out for the paddling of spectacularly colored Mandarin ducks. On the western fringe there is a bonsai garden, dating from 1954 when it replaced a bamboo grove. Leave a bit of time for your exit – on the way out there is a very good little museum with explanations about Chinese gardening principles and the history of gardens in Suzhou.

Admission: ¥70 peak season (16/03-30/10); ¥50 low season (31/10-15/03). Open: 7:30-17:30.

Address: 178 Dongbei Jie. Tel: +86 (0512) 6751 0286. Website: http://www.szzzy.cn/

Directions: Dongbei Lu is in the north-east corner of the Old Town. Show a taxi driver the Chinese below or take tourist buses Y1 or Y2 (from Tiger Hill, the Railway Station or the North Pagoda).

Show the taxi driver: 请带我去拙政园,谢谢。 (Please take me to the Humble Administrator’s Garden. Thank you.)