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 History of Yuyuan Garden
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.
What to See
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"!