Asian gardens were often built for the royal families and are now happily open to the public. Wander the imperial gardens of Beijing, Tokyo or Thailand. Follow in the footsteps of the Dalai Lama in Tibet or take in the world famous gardens around the Taj Mahal. There are places here for contemplation, strolling and real cultural experiences.
- Summer Palace, Beijing, China
This amazingly preserved imperial garden is truly one of a kind. The massive garden is almost like a museum of garden architecture with the living quarters, opera houses, pavilions, bridges and towers the royal families enjoyed. A highlight is the covered walkway with animal scenes, the Dowager Cixi’s marble boat and all the leafy pagodas, isles and courtyards.
- Norbulingkha, Lhasa, China
This was the summer residential palace of the Dalai Lama and is a gorgeous assortment of palaces, forest, flower gardens, a zoo and of course the visiting pilgrims. It’s a perfect combination of natural beauty and unique Tibetan culture.
- Imperial Gardens, Tokyo, Japan
The Imperial Palace East Gardens are part of the inner palace area but are open to the public and admission is free. Twice a year you can visit the palace grounds too. The palace is located on the former site of Edo Castle and the gardens are part of the defense circles. These are designed in true Japanese style and it’s fun to wander the moats, walls and entrance gates.
- Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand
For a truly regal visit schedule this into your itinerary. The Grand Palace was formerly the official residence of the Thai Kings and now more of a compound containing the traditional royal residence, various halls of audiences and important wats and ceremonial gardens. For green thumbs there’s usually a gardener or two at work on the leafy greens surrounding the amazing Thai architecture.
- Tirta Gangga, Bali, Indonesia
This royal water palace was built in 1947 by Bali’s last King and is a gorgeous series of pools amidst surrounding rice terraces. All the pools use water from a sacred spring and it is possible to swim in one of them for a small fee. If not wander at will, eat at the restaurant or even stay the night.
- Yu Gardens, Shanghai, China
These 400-year-old gardens were built in the Ming Dynasty during the reign of Emperor Jia Jin. They are the most celebrated in Shanghai and number over five acres. They originally took 20 years to complete and are a maze of pavilions, grottoes, lotus ponds and rickety bridges over lazy streams. Get away from the bustle of the city streets with a stroll here.
- Daejeon, South Korea
Daejeon has a plethora of parks and gardens that offer places for rest and relaxation away from the bustle of the country’s fifth largest metropolis. Go to Saemmeori Park for musical concerts, exhibitions and fairs; Gubongsan Park has a rugged terrain beside the Gapcheon river with maple and cherry trees; and Gyejoksan Park is the place to go for temple ruins and mountain fortresses.
- Camoes Garden, Macau
Escape the hustle and bustle of Macau in Camoes Garden. These gardens are located atop a hill, and are one of the oldest and largest in Macau. It’s a particularly popular place for locals and where they come to do morning exercises, play chess and walk their caged birds. The gardens include walkways, tombstones, an art gallery and chess tables.
- Taj Mahal, Agra, India
This is possibly the most famous architectural garden in the world and designed according to the Islamic style of architecture. In the Koran the garden is a symbol of paradise and this is evident from the moment you first enter the entrance gateway. The sprawling garden with the watercourses and flowerbeds lead directly to the tomb itself. Its perfect symmetry is breathtaking.
- Botanical gardens, Singapore
These gardens are a splendid oases of green in an otherwise concrete jungle of modern high rise, and the only ones in the world that open every single day of the year without charge. Have a picnic on the lawns, take in the orchid gardens, the small tropical rainforest or head to one of the lakes for a free concert.