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How To Visit The Stunning Humble Administrator Garden (China)

How To Visit The Stunning Humble Administrator Garden (China)

The ethereally beautiful Humble Administrator Garden is the biggest of Suzhou’s nine classical gardens. Covering an enormous 50 thousand square feet, it’s also the largest private garden in China, and it’s rated alongside Beijing‘s Summer Palace as one of China’s top four gardens. Visiting this garden in Suzhou is a must-do trip from Shanghai – it’s one of the most popular places of interest in Suzhou.

Garden building next to open water at the Garden of the Humble Administrator

Where is the Garden of the Humble Administrator?

The beautiful waterside city of Suzhou is a delight, a welcome antidote to the frenetic modern sprawl of Shanghai. Known as the “Venice of China” and famed for its gardens and silks, Suzhou is less than an hour from Shanghai by fast train, yet it feels like it’s a whole world away.

History of the Humble Administrator Garden (Zhuo Zheng Yuan)

While not as ancient as the Master of the Nets Garden, the Humble Administrator’s Garden was designed over 500 years ago (during the Ming Dynasty) by a high-ranking Chinese official. It’s been sold and redesigned many times since – today, this amazing garden in Suzhou is a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural site.

As for paradise, above there is heaven, below there are Suzhou and Hangzhou

Chinese proverb

Suzhou is considered one of the world’s greatest garden cities, with its serene and classical style still influencing garden design today.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Photos and information about the ancient Master of the Nets Garden.

When to visit the Humble Administrator’s Garden

Visiting this garden in Suzhou is easy, as it’s are open daily.

  • High Season ( March 1 to November 15): 07:30 to 17:30
  • Low Season (November 16 to the end of February) 07:30 to 17:00

Getting Tickets

When you arrive at the Humble Administrator’s Garden, head for the left-hand side to the front section. It’s where you pick up reserved tickets. Next, head for the “foreigners” window to buy your tickets.

You must have your passport with you to buy tickets, but you’ll miss the huge queue of local visitors waiting at the other ticket booths.

Tip: Whatever you do arrive early! This garden is famous throughout China and it gets very busy, so try to arrive as the gates open at 7.30 am. That way you can have a leisurely visit and the best chance to take great photos before the hordes descend from 8.30 am onwards.

Places of Interest in Suzhou

How to get to the Garden of the Humble Administrator

By Train

The easiest way to get to Suzhou is by bullet train from Shanghai. It’s a short 25-minute journey, but be sure to take a 7 am train, so you arrive early in Suzhou. The garden gets very busy with coachloads of Chinese visitors from 8.30 am onwards. Arriving early is the best way to make sure you visit when there are the least crowds at the Humble Administrator’s Garden!

Directions: From Shanghai to Suzhou, take the bullet train from Shanghai Hongqiao Station to Suzhou Railway Station. Then you have two options

  • BUS: take Bus Line 40 to Beiyuan Road and walk southwest for about 250m to the Humble Administrator’s Garden.
  • TAXI: Have the name of the places you want to visit written in Chinese to show to taxi drivers.

By Private Car

If you prefer to travel in a private car with a guide who will take you directly to the garden then onto other Suzhou attractions. The journey will take about two hours, but you’ll arrive in airconditioned comfort.

One of the best private trips takes you to the Humble Administrator’s Gardens, then onto the beautiful Liu Lingering Garden before a trip to the famous Suzhou Silk Museum. Find out more here.

How long should you spend at the Humble Administrator’s Garden?

You’ll probably want to spend at least 2 to 3 hours visiting this garden in Suzhou, to appreciate all of the different areas and to enjoy the garden fully.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Why a private tour guide is a good choice for first-time visitors to China

What To See at the Humble Administrator’s Garden

The garden is full of attractive little “hobbit holes”. OK we know that’s not really what they are, but it’s what they look like. They were designed to provide a visual link between different areas of the garden. Just like little framed windows, these holes tempt the visitor to keep on exploring and discovering more treasures.

Hobbit Holes Garden of the Humble Administrator Suzhou China min
The Humble Administrator’s Garden Suzhou is full of beautiful little ‘hobbit holes’ like this one!

Favourite Places in the Garden

Everywhere you look there is water in the garden, linking beautiful features including small forests, hills, and rock formations. The reflection of trees and buildings in the water makes the garden a very serene and restful place.

Pretty bridge over water at the Humble Administrators Garden Suzhou

There are so many charming little buildings for you to explore, each one designed to make the most of the views available. No matter what the season is, you’ll find many places to see the garden at its glorious best.

Garden of the Humble Administrator Suzhou China min

The old theatre is simply stunning, with handcrafted blue glass windows overlooking the lotus flowers in the lake. What could be more beautiful?

Garden in Suzhou

Even on a busy day, you’ll find lots of opportunities for stunning photos of the garden and the architecture. If you’re a little patient, it’s easy to find moments when there are no people in your shots!

Garden in Suzhou 2

One of the great joys of the garden is discovering little pathways and bridges crossing the water and connecting the buildings.

There’s beautiful, intricate detail everywhere. Even the footpaths are stunning, decorated with creatures from Chinese culture like bats, which are symbols of happiness and joy.

Suzhou Garden min

Pro Tip: As the Chinese word for bat sounds exactly like the word for good fortune, bats are often seen in decorations. A group of five bats together represents the “Five Blessings” which are long life, health, wealth, love of virtue, and peaceful death.

What You Won’t See at The Garden

This garden in Suzhou is a classical Chinese garden, not a botanical garden. You won’t see the huge variety of blooms and plants you might expect to see in a Western-style garden, but that’s not the point here. Everything is about style and design and how nature has been harnessed to provide a place of deep serenity.

After Your Visit

It’s a short, easy walk to the Suzhou Museum and Lion Grove Garden from the Humble Administrator’s Garden, and the ethical Suzhou Silk Museum and Suzhou Art Gallery are within walking distance too (just a 15-minute walk).

If you want to see the ancient Master of Nets Garden, it’s about a 30-minute walk, but you can get there by bus (number 55 or 202).

There are too many gardens in Suzhou to get around them all in one day, so choose which ones you want to see before you go!

One of the loveliest ways to explore the places of interest in Suzhou is by bike. It’s a great way to skip the crowds and to get to see more of the city’s famous waterways. You’ll also see beautiful stone bridges, stunning pagodas, and can get away from the usual tourist track to see tiny craft shops, art galleries, narrow alleys, and coffee shops in the historic Piangjiang district. Find your Suzhou bike tour here.

Last Word

The Humble Administrator Garden is a magical place and the ideal garden in Suzhou to visit if you are short of time and faced with having to choose just one garden to visit.

Pin for Later – The Ultimate Garden in Suzhou (The Garden of the Humble Administrator)

Suzhou garden

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