Chinese Garden of Friendship
Cnr Harbour Street
10am - 5pm
The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a tranquil retreat in the middle of the city, and one of the best things to do in Sydney.
With the COVID-19 restrictions having eased from Monday 11 October, the Garden is now open to guests aged 16 years and over who are fully vaccinated and all young people aged under 16. All guests must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or medical exemption documentation upon entry.
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The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a serene place of beauty at the southern end of Darling Harbour.
Designed in 1986 by landscape architects and gardeners from Sydney’s sister city, Guangzhou, the Chinese Garden of Friendship follows the Taoist principles of 'Yin-Yang' – the balance of opposing yet complementary forces – and ‘Wu-Xing’ – the harmonious five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
Wander serene pathways and take in exotic plants, blooming flowers and a lake of shimmering Koi. If you fancy staying for a while, experience The Gardens by Lotus, an onsite restaurant in a heritage listed teahouse serving dumplings, Chinese tea and fiery Sichuan cuisine.
$4 child (under 12*)
$20 family (two adults and three children)
Concession/Student: $4 (Australian card holders)
Senior: $6 (Australian card holders)
Friends of the Garden Annual Membership
$39 Concession/Student/Local Resident (2000, 2007 and 2009 postcodes)
$118 Family (two adults and three children)
*child under 5 free of charge
The safety of our visitors and staff is our top priority. Working with the advice by the NSW Health Department and the State and Federal Governments, we welcome visitors to the Garden in a controlled and responsible way:
- Chinese Garden is open to guests aged 16 years and over who are fully vaccinated and all young people aged under 16. All guests must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or medical exemption documentation upon entry.
- Limited daily numbers: Daily visitor numbers will be limited to avoid overcrowding.
- QR check-in: All guests required to check in via Service NSW app upon arrival.
- Mask-wearing: Masks are required to be worn at all indoor locations including bathrooms and closed-in pavilions. Guests are required to carry a mask at all times whilst in the Garden.
- Social distancing: Staff and guests (unless from the same household) are required to maintain 1.5m physical distancing at all times.
- Fish feeding sessions are spectator sessions only and tours may run at a reduced frequency and capacity while COVID-19 restrictions in place.
- Signage, floor markings and sanitising stations installed in the Garden to help visitors adhere to social distancing and hygiene guidelines.
- Thorough cleaning undertaken in the Garden to keep all visitors safe, particularly around the bathrooms and hard surfaces.
Pathways and pavilions in the lower garden are accessible for wheelchairs, buggies and prams; however steps and rocky pathways make the upper part of the Garden difficult to access. The closest passenger drop-off point to the garden is on Harbour Street.
The Chinese Garden has a fully upgraded accessible toilet and baby change facilities onsite.
The Chinese Garden of Friendship was built to symbolise the friendship between Sydney, New South Wales and the city of Guangzhou in the province of Guangdong, China (sister cities of sister states) and was formally opened as part of Australia’s Bicentennial Celebrations on 17 January 1988. The Dragon Wall, featuring two flying dragons—a symbol of majesty and perfection in Chinese culture—was a gift from Guangdong; the brown dragon represents Guangdong, and the blue dragon New South Wales.
In a collaborative effort, the Garden was designed by Chinese landscape architects and built by Australian craftsmen and specialists. It follows follows the Taoist principles of 'Yin-Yang', the opposing yet complementary and balanced forces, and ‘Wu-Xing’, the five elements or phases—wood, fire, earth, metal and water. These principles also stress the importance of Qi, the central force of life and energy.
Yin-Yang and Wu-Xing play such a vital role that just one missing element would disrupt the garden's harmony and balance. However, when combined perfectly, the five elements form a fluid and nurturing environment. Everything you encounter in the garden has been carefully chosen and meticulously placed in order to incorporate the five elements, achieve a balance of Yin and Yang, and promote the flow of Qi.
Unlike western-style gardens, there are no formally laid out flowerbeds or manicured lawns; instead, wild aspects of nature are recreated in landscapes that feature waterfalls, mountains, lakes and forests.
The art of Chinese garden design began in imperial parks during the Shang Dynasty, around 3,000 years ago. Later it flourished on a smaller scale in the private gardens of China's rich and powerful, and Darling Harbour’s Chinese Garden of Friendship is a small-scale version of a typical private garden from this era.
Thinking of visiting the Garden as a group and discover what the Chinese Garden has to offer? The Chinese Garden of Friendship is one of Sydney’s most popular destination for gardening groups, heritage clubs, specialty tours and other outings.
The Chinese Garden of Friendship advisory committee was formed in August 2017 to provide independent advice on the long-term planning and strategic management of Garden, helping to inform a 10-year plan for the site.
The new committee brings a wealth of diverse experience across business, arts and Chinese culture and aims to support Government with the holistic management of the Garden by ensuring there is representation from a range of relevant disciplines and communities.
Following an Expression of Interest process, the following members were appointed to the committee:
Mr Simon Chan
Director of Art Atrium and President of Haymarket Chamber of Commerce
Ms Oi Choong
Specialist landscape architect and consultant
Dr John Yu
1996 Australian of the Year for his vision to create a best practice paediatric hospital that integrate art, design and high-quality medical care for the benefit of young people and current Chair of Museum of Chinese in Australia.
Mr Julian Siu
Associate at GML Heritage
Ms Karen Soo
Executive officer, Haymarket Chamber of Commerce
NEW DATES: 11 Jan - 27 March 2022
See the Chinese Garden of Friendship in a new light as its illuminated by theatrical lighting to reflect the four seasons.
Cocktail in hand, admire this haven of natural beauty while accompanied by the gentle sounds of violins and cellos. Scattered throughout the Garden you may even have the fortune of finding some friendly forest sprites, always keeping a watchful eye and maintaining the harmony between nature and humanity.
Weddings, Functions, Filming and Photography at The Garden
The natural beauty, architecture and elegance of the Chinese Garden of Friendship at Darling Harbour can provide a unique backdrop for any filming or photography project. Sheltered pavilions, graceful bridges, reflective pools and enchanting landscapes create the perfect setting for wedding ceremonies, birthday parties, cultural activations and many other events in the heart of the city.
The Gardens by Lotus
The Gardens menu compliments its location, offering a contemporary interpretation of a traditional Chinese cuisine, as well as a weekend Yum Cha menu. Guests can expect to see traditional Chinese dishes with a sophisticated and innovative twist. On offer hot from the woks are dishes such as Sichuan style prawn & pork wontons, steamed pork ribs with black bean sauce, and Lotus' signature spring rolls with king brown mushrooms.