Chinese Garden of Friendship
Cnr Harbour Street
*Days and times may vary due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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.
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 two children)
Concession/Student: $4 (Australian card holders)
Senior: $6 (Australian card holders)
$35 Local Resident Annual Adult Pass (2000, 2007 and 2009 postcodes)
$50 Annual Adult Pass
$125 Annual Family Pass (two adults and two children)
*child under 5 free of charge
As a primary outdoor venue situated on one hectare of Darling Harbour prime land, the risk of COVID-19 transmission at the Chinese Garden of Friendship is considered low. As always, the safety of our visitors, staff in our care is our top priority. Working with the advice by the NSW Health Department and the State and Federal Governments, we have reopened the Garden in a controlled and responsible way.
To ensure the safety of guests, staff and broader community we’ve implemented a few changes and you can expect your day at the Garden to be a little bit different to the normal Chinese Garden experience:
Fish feeding sessions are spectator sessions only and tours may run at a reduced frequency and capacity while COVID-19 restrictions are in place
We have installed signage, floor markings and sanitising stations to help visitors adhere to social distancing and hygiene guidelines
To keep you safe, we will be undertaking additional cleaning – particularly around the bathrooms and hard surfaces all over the Garden.
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
What's On in Chinese Garden of Friendship
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.