At the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden in Vancouver's Chinatown, koi swim in the ponds while visitors sip on hot green tea. The classical Chinese garden reflects a scholar's residence during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
Excellent volunteer-led tours provide insight into the interplay of architecture, plants, and history in the Vancouver Chinatown garden. Immediately next door to the garden, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park features a similar but much less elaborate style (though from the hands of local artisans) and is free to visit.
Address: 578 Carrall St. (at Keefer), Vancouver
Hours: The garden opens daily, but garden hours change with the seasons with the longest hours when the flora is at its best. Exact hours can be found on the official website.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden Tours:
Volunteers bring the garden to life, illuminating the careful planning that created this tranquil garden space. From the significance of plants such as the winter plum to the symbolism of bats in the architecture, expect to discover details that you'd otherwise miss.
Tours generally run multiple times daily and end with a cup of Chinese green tea in the scholar's study. The garden also organizes Chinatown tours through the historic neighborhood.
About the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden:
Built in a year (1985-1986) as the first classical Chinese garden outside China, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden exhibits thoughtful work. The garden weaves Chinese tradition with British Columbia flora and fosters the interplay of four elements -- rock, water, plants, and architecture -- to create a serene space.
Traditional Chinese gardens feature imported rocks from Lake Tai. The limestone rock is present throughout the space and looks alien in its twisting shapes. The cloudy jade green water is another traditional element, and the clay-lined pond is home to sleek and colorful koi (large carp).
The architecture prominently displays woodcarvings that are finely crafted jigsaw pieces. No glue or nails are used to hold the pieces together.
Finely pruned cedar and pine trees are almost unrecognizable from their British Columbia evergreen cousins. Look also for bamboo and tree blossoms that add bright life to the garden.
Thanks to the beautiful craftsmanship in the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden, visitors will find unparalleled photo opportunities that will reward with envy-inducing Vancouver vacation photos.
Things to Do in ChinatownVancouver's Chinatown is one of the busiest neighborhoods in the city. Simply walking around, shopping, and seeing the heritage architecture can fill an hour or more. You'll want to stop by the world's narrowest building, the Sam Kee Building, at 8 West Pender Street. Today it operates as an insurance company, but in 1912 Chang Toy built the 1.8-meter-wide (6 feet) structure when the city expropriated most of this land for road construction.
Other historical stops are the Vancouver Police Museum, the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and Archives, and the bright-yellow Kuomintang Building.