With its shaded alcoves, glittering pools churning with fish, pavilions, pines sprouting wistfully from rockeries and roving packs of Japanese tourists, the Yùyuán Gardens is one of Shànghǎi's premier sights – but becomes overpoweringly crowded at weekends. The spring and summer blossoms bring a fragrant, floral aspect to the gardens, especially the luxurious petals of its Magnolia grandiflora, Shànghǎi's flower. Other trees include the luohan pine, bristling with thick needles, willows, gingkos, cherry trees and magnificent dawn redwoods.
The Pan family, rich Ming dynasty officials, founded these gardens, which took 18 years (1559–77) to be nurtured into existence before bombardment during the Opium War in 1842. The gardens took another trashing during French reprisals for attacks on their nearby concession during the Taiping Rebellion. Restored, they are a fine example of Ming garden design.
The adjacent bazaar may be tacky, but it's good for a browse if you can handle the push and pull of the crowds. The nearby Taoist Temple of the Town God is also worth visiting. Just outside the bazaar is Old Street, known more prosaically as Middle Fangbang Rd, a busy street lined with curio shops and teahouses.