Guilin Park, a Classic Southern Chinese Garden in Shanghai

Guilin Park (桂林公园) is one of the best parks in Shanghai and is well-known among the locals only. It is on the west of Shanghai near the Xujiahui commercial district.

There are hundreds of parks in Shanghai, classified as recreational parks, community parks, and traditional parks. But Guilin Park is one traditional park with a classic southern Chinese garden landscape.

If you visit Shanghai and are short on time to see the Suzhou gardens, this park can give you a strong impression of a traditional southern Chinese garden. It only takes you less than an hour to complete a round walk. Visit Guilin Park is also one of the cheap things you can do in Shanghai because the entrance ticket was only two yuan when I was there.

A typical round door leads to another garden section

Background of the Guilin Park

It used to be the private garden of Huang Jinrong, the former Head of the Police Station of the French Concession and the head of the Shanghai Gangster. Built-in 1931, it took four years to construct the garden on the ground of an ancestral temple and graveyard. The elegant, delicate, and enjoyable designed garden was a showcase of Huang’s prestigious status.

In 1937, when the Japanese troop occupied Shanghai, the garden became the army base. The Japanese troop burned several original mansions and a temple when they left Shanghai. In 1957, the Shanghai government turned it into a public park. Over the years, several expansions and constructions have taken place. Gradually, it has become one of the best parks in Shanghai again. Today, the park covers an area of 35,509 square metres.

Pond and Pavilion in Guilin Park, Shanghai

The main features of the park

On both sides of the main door is the 83-metre long dragon wall. The wall has 46 windows, similar to the style of Lingering Garden in Suzhou. The layout of the park demonstrates the profound craftsmanship and an artistic way of simulating nature.

The park has all elements a traditional southern Chinese garden would have. Beautiful pavilions, rock formations, ornamental windows, arched bridges, ponds, and shady walkways, all of them were nicely designed and arranged. Furthermore, the park has several sections, each with diffident layouts.

The 83-metre long dragon wall in Guilin Park, Shanghai

Zig-Zag walkway in Guilin Park, Shanghai

One of the 15 pavilions

The buildings’ architectural style is bright. In the park, there are 15 different pavilions. They connect ponds, rock formations, bridges, and garden sections. You will find a pavilion at every corner. The Hexagonal Pavilion (六角亭) on the right side of the Sijiao Ting (四教亭) has inscriptions written by Jiang Jieshi for Huang Jinrong. And, the long corridor (九曲长廊) will leave everyone a strong impression.

Nearly every square metre is for design purposes. All elements are placed next to each other in harmony. The design reflects the Chinese traditional faith, to be close to nature. And everything should be in harmony with nature.

The Osmanthus trees and other plants

Guilin Park literary means Osmanthus Woods Park (桂林 in Chinese, “桂” means Osmanthus, while “林” means woods). It got its name since more than 1000 Osmanthus trees of over 20 different types, were planted there. These are, for example, Osmanthus Fragrans and Osmanthus Asiaticus.

Besides, two-thirds of the trees are evergreen, and one-third is deciduous. The park is also famous for its hundred-year-old pine tree and two-hundred-year-old Boxwoods.

In addition, other plants and fauna such as Peony, Pine, Cypress, White Magnolia, Cinnamomum are also scattered among the buildings. All elements in the garden are unified perfectly together and form a unique garden complex.

Fossil wood

What to do

Guilin Park is not so close to the residential area. It is usually pretty silent compared to other larger neighborhood parks in the city. You can have a break or read o book in one of the 15 pavilions like the locals.

Or, you can follow those winding paths leading to every secret corner while appreciating the garden landscape.

Around the Chinese traditional mid-autumn festival, it is also the Osmanthus blooming period. The whole garden is full of sweet scents. Sometimes there are events taking place.

If you are with the family, this is an excellent place for the kids to play hide-and-seek games. From the kid’s point of view, this park is like a natural playground.

Though it is one of the best parks in Shanghai, many tourists are not aware of it. But it is worth a walk if you are on the west side of Shanghai.

Stone table set

How to get there

The address of Guilin Park is: No1, Guilin Road, Shanghai (桂林路1号)

Buses such as 830, 909, 224, 732, 43, 92 all stop near the park. Alternatively, you can take subway line 12. Exit the subway and enter the park from the north entrance.

The north entrance is at the corner of Caobao Road and Guilin Road. The park also has the south gate and west entrance.

Guilin Park (桂林公园) is one of the best parks in Shanghai and is well-known among the locals only. It is located to the west of Shanghai near Xujiahui commercial district. #China #Shanghai #park #daytrip #traveltips #asia #

7 Comments

  1. This is so nice when compared to the crowded, touristy parks. Its nice to get to know how the authentic parks look like.
    This little garden has gone through such a history! Right from being a police man’s garden to Japanese Army Base to public park? Whoa! That’s a lot!
    The dragon wall looks interesting. 2 types of greenery within this small place and a 200yr old tree? Its definitely a must-visit place!

  2. The Guilin Park looks like a great place to spend some quiet and relaxing time. As you suggest, catching up with a book or just walking around the enchanting garden would be a great experience. I really love how the pavilions are laid out and how one can stroll through the paths to all nooks and corners of the vast garden.

  3. I love that Shanghai has such a beautiful park as Guilin Park. The story of the Park is inspiring as it seems to have come back to life after being burnt and rebuilt. Always such a pity when places become the victims of war.

  4. Guilin Park really looks beautiful as it has many interesting things to see which are very authentic. I loved the 83 meter long dragon wall and it would nice to walk along with it. That round door too looks beautiful. Also the garden is full of trees and greenery which is nice for relaxing. Thanks for sharing a hidden gem from Shanghai.

  5. No matter how much the western media says about China, we can’t deny how gorgeous many China’s garden are. They are all designed and planned well, with perfection and applying its gardening philosophy that suitable in all year round. Saving your guide for our future Shanghai trip!

  6. It’s great to know that you can visit such a beautiful park rather inexpensively. I also enjoy hop on/off buses and lot so it’s great to know you can access Guilin Park that way. China has been on my list for a while and I would love to see this peaceful and serene park.

  7. How pretty is Guilin Park?! I’d like to return to China and visit Shanghai, it’s a regret I didn’t visit when I was last there. I love that photo of the dragon wall, it’s so photogenic. I’m unfamiliar with southern Chinese gardens, so I will have to read more on this!

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