Suzhou Travel Guide

The Humble Administrator Garden


Tai Hu rock display
Tai Hu rock display

Suzhou's largest garden, Zhuozheng Yuan, the Humble Administrator's Garden is also considered the city's finest. It was established in the 16th century by a retired magistrate, Wang Xianchen, and developed over the years as subsequent owners made changes according to the fashion of the day. A 16th-century painting shows that originally the garden was less decorative than it is now. The garden is separated into three principal parts, east, central, and west. The eastern section has colorful flowers but is of less interest than the other two. There is also a museum that explains the history and philosophy of Chinese gardens.

Visitors' checklist

  • 178 Dongbei Jie, Suzhou
  • 0512 6751 0286
  • 7:30am–5pm daily (last admission 5pm)
  • includes the Garden Museum

Area illustrated
1) Entrance; 2) Eastern Garden; 3) Garden Museum; 4) Penjing Nursery;

Area illustrated

Orange Pavilion
Artificial mountains were an important element in Chinese gardens and were ideal for contemplation.

Secluded Pavilion of Firmiana Simplex and Bamboo
The most famous view of the garden, the "borrowed view" (see Penjing) of Beisi Ta, the Northern Pagoda reflected in the water, is visible from here.

Covered walkway – a way to enjoy the garden even in the hot sun
Covered walkway – a way to enjoy
the garden even in the hot sun

Hall of Distant Fragrance
The main hall of the garden, is named after the perfume of the large lotus pond nearby that delicately wafts in.

Fragrant Isle
This pavilion and terrace is supposed to resemble the deck and cabin of a boat. As it projects out over the water, it gives excellent views of the garden from all sides.

Mandarin Duck Hall
Split into two equal rooms, this arrangement allowed visitors to enjoy the cooler north-facing chamber in summer, and the warmer south-facing one in winter.

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China Tours including trips to Suzhou, China