The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, in Vancouver’s Chinatown, was the first “scholar’s” garden built outside of China in the Ming Dynasty tradition. This cultural and natural oasis offers a serene break from Vancouver’s hustle and bustle, and the nonprofit organization was named the one of top 10 city gardens in the world by National Geographic.
This combination of the free public park and admission fee-based garden comprises winding covered walkways, ancient limestone formations, and 150-year-old miniature trees that serve as a tranquil break from the concrete jungle. The first classical Chinese garden in Canada, the site was created by master craftsmen from China using 14th-century methods: no screws, no glue, and no power tools. On Friday nights in summer, the garden hosts an eclectic repertoire of musical and dance performances that includes classical, Asian, world, gypsy jazz, Slavic soul, and fusion. The garden aims to create cultural understanding between the eastern and western ways of life in British Columbia.
The Chinese garden offers 45-minute guided tours throughout the day and is also a stop on many Vancouver gardens tours, city highlights tours, Vancouver bike tours, and cultural tours of Chinatown.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The garden serves traditional Chinese tea and offers a family-friendly scavenger hunt for kids.
- It is recommend to sign up for guided tours in advance to ensure your desired time.
- Parking in Chinatown can be tricky. Tours with included transportation from area hotels offer an easy solution, as does public transportation.
- The small garden requires little walking and is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get There
The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, on Carrall Street in the heart of Vancouver’s Chinatown, is easily accessible via public transportation, and it’s only a few blocks away from the Gastown neighborhood and downtown Vancouver.
When to Get There
The garden is open daily from 10am to 4:30pm from October 1 to April 30 (closed on Mondays from November 1 to April 30), 10am to 6pm May 1 to June 14, and 9:30am to 7pm from June 15 to August 31. Summertime visitors get an added bonus of Friday night cultural performances, held from mid-July through the first weekend in September.
Feng Shui at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden
The ancient Chinese practice of feng shui, or energy alignment between physical spaces and people’s intentions, is evident everywhere in the garden. Notice how dark pebbles are placed next to light ones, how swaying bamboo grows around immovable rocks, and the way in which soft-moving water flows across solid stone. Each item—including the roof tiles, tai hu rocks, and native flora—was placed with a considered purpose to create balance and harmony.