If you’re itching for a change of scenery, Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a sanctuary nestled in the heart of the city! Here, you step into a space where nature intertwines with ancient Chinese culture.
From tranquil ponds to intricately designed pavilions, get ready for a journey! Let’s discover everything there is to know about the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
- Venturing into the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
- Things to Do at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
- Things to Remember Before Going
- How to Get There
- The Best Time to Go
- Tips for a Great Visit to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
- Places to Eat Nearby
- Places to Stay Nearby
Venturing into the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Located in the Chinatown in Vancouver, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a garden inspired and designed with the elements of a scholar’s garden in 15th century Suzhou, China.
Not just a garden, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is also a registered museum. It was created with the cooperation of the government of Canada and that of the People’s Republic of China.
It serves as a living canvas of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) with architecture and landscaping that mirror the popular styles during that era in China. It was among the one of the firsts of its kind built outside of China and Asia.
The garden serves as a non-profit tourist attraction in the city, as well as a popular venue for cultural programs centered on China. Every dollar earned at the garden goes toward fulfilling its goal.
Through the years, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden has gotten awards that reflect its significance in both local and global contexts.
From being recognized as one of Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s “Places That Matter” to earning the title of World’s Top City Garden by National Geographic in 2011, this garden has proved its worth as a must see place in the city.
In 2012, it was proudly voted Canadian Garden of the Year by the Canadian Garden Tourism Council, and in 2022, it received the City of Vancouver’s Award of Excellence in the category of Diversity and Inclusion.
Address: 578 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K2, Canada
Phone Number: +1 604 662 3207
- Wednesday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 4 pm
- Monday and Tuesday: Closed
The garden is named after Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, affectionately called the father of modern China. In his journey across the world to collect funds for the Chinese nationalist movement, he visited and stayed for a period of time in Vancouver 3 separate times.
Things to Do at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Immerse Yourself in the Array of Plants and Trees
One of the first things you’ll notice when you walk in are the plants and trees that dot the entire garden. It’s a great place for nature lovers and plant enthusiasts alike. There are flora that are local to Vancouver, Canada, but there are also imported ones from China.
As the seasons change, so does the look of the entire garden. The wide variety of plants and flowers that call this place home bloom at different times of the year, so a trip here is unique every time.
During spring and summer, you can expect to see different colors of roses, magnolias, and peonies growing, as well as Asian orchids and. During winter, the jasmine flowers fill the entire garden with their fragrance.
There are also ginkgo trees which are meticulously pruned to maintain their shape and towering maple trees that change colors every fall. Some of the trees here are well over 150 years old, including some miniature Bonsai trees in stone pots in the courtyard.
Appreciate Ancient Chinese Architecture
The entire site where the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden stands as a living testament to ancient Chinese craftsmanship. Built in 1986, this garden was crafted by over 50 skilled artists, architects, and carpenters from China.
Using 14th-century methods which means no modern tools, they built everything using almost a thousand crates of imported building material. This translates into the authenticity of the garden that embodies the Taoist philosophy of yin and yang.
There is balance and harmony integrated in every design which you’ll see in the Jade Water Pavilion. The water surrounding it contains water from a lake in Suzhou China and is home to turtles and fish. TaiHu rocks from China surround the water’s perimeter.
The covered walkways, terraces, 43 unique leak windows, showcasing intricate lattice patterns all reflect the design of the Ming Dynasty. Rock statues of dragons and phoenixes are also all over the garden for fortune and protection.
Rest, Reflect, and Recharge
Amidst the scenery, you can find a little peace and quiet on many wooden benches scattered throughout the garden. Most visitors take the time to explore the walkways as slowly as possible to really let the serenity of the surroundings seep in.
Go on a Guided Tour
To deepen your connection with the garden’s rich history, plant life, and architecture, we highly recommend opting for the guided tours offered multiple times daily.
The guided tours last around 45 minutes. Knowledgeable guides tell you the stories behind the trees and what they symbolize, which winding pathways are best for meditation, and meaning behind design elements.
Although the tours are free, you need to book them through their website at least 3 weeks in advance and you need a minimum of 10 visitors with tickets for that day. They will send you an email confirmation if your booking can be accommodated.
Check out the Rotating Cultural Exhibitions
The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden offers you the chance to delve into the cultural scene of the local community through the Garden’s Artist in Residency program. This program invites local artists to display their pieces on site.
You can check and appreciate the exhibitions that showcase diverse media, from paintings and drawings to pottery and photography. There are both modern works of art, as well as ones inspired and executed with the style and techniques from ancient China.
Participate in the Tea Ceremony
If you prefer a hands-on experience, you’ll be glad to know that the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden holds traditional tea ceremonies on Thursdays and Fridays with time slots at 10:30 am, 11:45 am, and 1 pm.
Each time slot has 8 spaces which you can have for $32. The whole experience actually takes 30 to 40 minutes from the preparation of the tea itself from scratch, to the pouring ceremonies, and then the actual drinking of the tea.
After the ceremony, you get to take home your tea cup as a souvenir!
Things to Remember Before Going
You need to buy a ticket to enter the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Since they’re a non-profit, their costs all go towards the goal of bridging cultures and communities through education and public service.
- $ 12 for students aged 6 to 17 with valid ID
- $ 13 for senior citizens
- $ 16 for adults
- $ 32 for a family of 4 ( 2 parents and 3 children below 17 years old)
Each ticket grants you entry and access to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden at the chosen date and time. You need to present the printed or soft copy version of the voucher to enter.
How to Get There
By Public Transportation
Hop on the Number 19 or Number 22 bus from Downtown Vancouver and get off at Pender Street near Carrall Street which is a minute away. Walk the way the bus came and turn left onto Carrall Street until you find the garden entrance on your left.
If you’re arriving by car, the drive will take no more than 5 minutes. Just head to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden’s entrance on Carrall Street between Pender and Keefer. Look out for the distinctive red gate and signs indicating you’re there.
Take note that parking is not available on the premises of the garden itself. The nearest public parking lot is at 180 Keefer Street, but street parking by meter is scattered throughout Chinatown.
By Skytrain Access
If you’d rather take the Skytrain, get off at Stadium—Chinatown Station. From there, take a stroll east along Keefer Street for about 3 blocks. Turn left onto Carrall Street and cross the street. You’ll find the garden on your right.
The Best Time to Go
The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden has a large collection of plants and trees that bloom in different seasons. The best times to visit are during the spring where most of the flowers bloom and the fall when the tree leaves change colors.
Weekdays are less crowded, especially early in the morning. If you want to take long walks around the gardens, afternoons are better for warmer temperatures.
Tips for a Great Visit to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
- Dress in comfortable clothes and shoes that will let you move around freely.
- Bring a phone or a camera to take pictures inside.
- If you plan on staying the whole day, it might be nice to bring light and quiet entertainment like a book to read.
Places to Eat Nearby
Local Public Eatery Gastown
Address: 3 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1B2, Canada
Phone Number: +1 778 737 4277
- Monday to Thursday from 11 am to 12 sm
- Friday from 11 am to 2 am
- Saturday from 10 am to 2 am
- Sunday from 10 am to 12 am
After a stroll through the serene allure of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, a visit to LOCAL Public Eatery in Gastown should be your next destination if you’re looking to fill up on good food and great beer.
The casual atmosphere invites you to unwind, making it the ideal spot to recount the garden’s cultural wonders over a plate of their famous burgers with hand pressed patties with a side of their smoky and spicy garlic edamame.
You can keep dessert simple with a peanut butter and chocolate cup.
Gringo Restaurants Gastown
Address: 27 Blood Alley Square, Vancouver, BC V6B 0C4, Canada
Phone Number: +1 604 673 0513
- Sunday to Thursday from 12 pm to 1 am
- Friday and Saturday from 12 pm to 2 am
As the sun sets on your exploration of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Gringo Gastown offers a vibrant location for dinner that can extend into some more late night fun.
They offer creative tacos like the Wilbur made with Mazatlan style pork butt, and other Mexican dishes with the colorful ambiance adding to your dining experience. The drinks here are great too with a wide selection of beer and margaritas.
Try one of their inventive Shake N’ Dump drinks, especially the Dusty Palmer with bourbon and lemonade.
The Old Spaghetti Factory (Gastown)
Address: 53 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1A1, Canada
Phone Number: +16046841288
- Sunday to Thursday from 11 am to 9:30 pm
- Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm
After the cultural richness of the garden, you can experience the turn-of-the-century charm of The Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown. This family-friendly eatery is a well loved restaurant that serves up traditional Italian dishes.
From hearty pasta dishes like pesto linguine and lasagna to grilled goods like their chicken parmigiana and baby back ribs, all the items on the menu are flavorful and served in generous portions.
If you want to keep it light, their sandwiches are also pretty good like the porchetta made with slow roasted pork loin with Italian salsa.
Address: 164 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6G 3J6, Canada
Phone Number: +1 604 565 4450
- Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 1:30 pm
- Friday to Saturday from 10 am to 3 am
Donair Dude is a neighborhood gem that found its roots during the Winter Olympics in February 2010 when it was opened. Aside from being known as the go to place for a quick bite, you also get high-quality ingredients and a menu that evolves every season.
The founders’ passion reflects in every aspect of this Mediterranean restaurant from their wraps and platters that feature chicken donair, falafel, lamb, beef, and kofte, to their poutine fries.
La Taqueria Pinche Taco
Address: 322 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1K6, Canada
Phone Number: +1 778 770 9055
- Monday to Thursday from 11:30 am to 9 pm
- Friday from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm
If you’re craving Mexican street food after your journey to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, La Taqueria Pinche Taco has a whole menu to satisfy you. Their dishes are made with traditional recipes and local organic products.
Some of the best sellers are the cheese quesadillas and queso fundido. For a more filling dish, they have an array of burritos with the Baja variety being our favorite made with white seasonal fish, coleslaw, mayo, chipotle, and rice.
The Churros de Pueblo filled with bavarian cream is the perfect note to end the meal on.
Places to Stay Nearby
Skwachàys Lodge Indigenous Hotel and Gallery
Address: 31 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1R3, Canada
Phone Number: +1 604 687 3589
Pricing: $ $
Once the Pender Hotel, the Skwachàys Lodge allows you to immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Indigenous art and culture. It’s especially perfect for art lovers! This boutique hotel offers 18 rooms, made by Vancouver designers and Indigenous artists.
The hotel also holds studio spaces for Indigenous artists making this lodge a vibrant hub of artistic expression. Don’t miss the lobby’s Art Gallery, a showcase of the diverse artistic pieces from wood carvings, paintings, clothing, beadwork, and more.
Address: 514 Homer St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2V6, Canada
Phone Number: +1 604 681 6369
Pricing: $ $
After immersing yourself into the Ming Dynasty at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, you can extend your trip down history at the Victorian Hotel, a quirky gem nestled in a converted 1898 guesthouse.
The interior matches the grandeur of the exterior with rooms decorated with antique furniture mixed in with modern decor for a unique vibe. Some rooms have original hardwood floors, original rugs, and bay windows.
The casual restaurant has an open kitchen where you can see the chefs preparing modern European dishes for you.
Hotel BLU Vancouver
Address: 177 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2A8, Canada
Phone Number: +1 604 620 6200
Pricing: $ $ $
In the heart of Vancouver, Hotel BLU stands as a trendy place to stay just minutes from BC Place Stadium. This chic retreat combines contemporary decor with modern amenities from TVs and computers to Nespresso coffee makers and bedside charging.
Some rooms even feature terraces for a breath of fresh air. They have an indoor pool complete with a Jacuzzi and sauna leading to an outdoor terrace.
The perks extend to a fitness center, bikes you can borrow, and a downtown drop-off shuttle service. They even cater to pets, providing them with their own beds.
Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Vancouver Downtown
Address: 111 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2A8, Canada
Phone Number: +1 604 602 1008
Pricing: $ $
You can get modern comfort just a block away from BC Place Stadium at Hampton Inn & Suites. Whether you want to extend your visit to the Chinese garden for a sports event or city exploration, this relaxed and modern hotel offers fully equipped rooms.
Each room has free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, fridges, and comfortable beds. Some rooms even boast stadium views through floor to ceiling windows. Suites provide additional living space, kitchens, and pull out sofas for a more homey feel.
You get hot breakfast and access to their gym and rooftop whirlpool.
YWCA Hotel Vancouver
Address: 733 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2M4, Canada
Phone Number: +1 604 895 5830
Pricing: $ $
More than just a budget hotel, YWCA Hotel Vancouver stands as a community-focused institution. Every stay contributes to YWCA community programs, fostering support for those who need it.
A mere four-minute walk from the Stadium Chinatown SkyTrain Station, this redbrick establishment offers simple rooms with free Wi-Fi, minifridges, and shared bathrooms.
Upgraded rooms provide private facilities, accommodating up to five people. Beyond the basics, the hotel houses a lobby cafe, three fully equipped kitchens, and entertainment lounges.