There are many fascinating things to do in Portland, from outdoor activities to art galleries and exhibitions to cultural events and fine dining. Sometimes, amidst the adventure and bustle, one can find oneself wishing for a quiet corner to rest, relax and recharge. The Lan Su Chinese Garden Portland is a perfect place to do exactly that.
The size of a full city block, the Lan Su Chinese Garden is a rich cultural attraction, but it also prides itself on providing a soothing, meditative space for residents and visitors alike. Since 2000, the Garden and its Tea Room have created a place for the exploration of Chinese culture, an appreciation of botany, and offered space for reflection and rejuvenation in the heart of Portland.
Inexpensive and easy to get to, the Garden is a unique experience among Portland’s numerous attractions and the perfect complement to itineraries that include other culturally informed events, public gardens or restorative time outdoors.
The Lan Su Chinese Garden opened in September of 2000. The size of an average city block, the garden was constructed by Chinese artisans to be a deeply authentic experience. Designed to mirror Ming Dynasty gardens, Lan Su is a place where visitors can find peace, quiet and calm.
It also provides a glimpse into the rich world of Chinese culture and tradition. The garden’s art, architecture, vegetation and design all welcome visitors into new experiences and a way of life outside their own daily grind.
The Tea House
One of the most interesting parts of visiting the Garden for many guests is the Lan Su Chinese Garden Tea House. The Tea House is exclusive to the Garden, and presents classical Chinese teas with optional, traditional small bites to accompany them such as mooncakes, nuts, cookies and steamed buns. Tea availability changes seasonally, creating ever-new opportunities and experiences for recurring visitors.
Each tea and snack are paired with cups, pots and utensils that match its character and origin, opening visitors’ eyes to the larger context of what they consume. The approach to dining makes meals as educational as they are enjoyable.
Events and Activities
While many visitors come for the quiet and calm, Lan Su Chinese Garden events also have a strong following. A rolling schedule of enriching events and activities ensure there is always something new and engaging to try, including classes, workshops, presentations and demonstrations. These events and activities include:
- Tai Chi.
- Musical performances, including Cantonese opera.
- Art shows.
- Tea tastings.
- Origami crafting.
- Martial arts.
- Chinese botanical arts.
- Embroidery and fabric arts.
The Garden also hosts a Chinese language discussion group, where native speakers and those new to the language can enjoy casual conversation and practice their language skills.
The annual Autumn Moon Festival and Lantern viewing, Chinese New Year at Lan Su Chinese Garden and other festivals and holidays are beloved local traditions for many and routinely draw large crowds.
In some cases, the Garden may host events or special admission hours that are open only to members. Similarly, portions of the Garden may be rented out for private events and may not be open to all visitors at all times.
Hours and Admission
Open year round, Lan Su is closed only three days a year for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Lan Su Chinese Garden hours and costs vary by season. Tickets can be purchased at the Garden or online in advance.
From mid-March to mid-May, the Garden is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and ranges from $7.95 for children and college students to $10.95 per ticket for adults. The garden also offers special pricing for seniors 62 years of age or older. Children five years of age and younger are free, and family passes are available.
During peak season from mid-May until mid-October, Lan Su Chinese Garden admission prices increase approximately $2 per ticket, and the Garden stays open an extra hour each evening. Winter hours set in at the end of October each year. Prices drop back down to off-season figures and the Garden is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Additional or alternative hours may apply on festival and event days.
Admission is free for Garden members, as are many of the Garden’s festivals and special events. However, even members may need to pay for certain events at the Garden. Discounted group rates are available for parties of 15 or more, and Lan Su participates in Portland’s Arts for All program by offering discounted admission to Oregon Trail Card Holders and Arts Card holders.
Membership options begin at $60 for an individual, $40 for students and seniors, or $75 for family passes.
Planning Your Visit
As the Garden is located on Everett Street in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown neighborhood, Lan Su Chinese Garden parking options are limited at best. Visitors are strongly encouraged to walk, bike or take public transportation to the Garden, regardless of when they visit. During festivals and events, parking fills up extremely quickly and taking the MAX or TriMet systems becomes doubly appealing. Visitors should take the Old Town Chinatown stop, and can use Portland’s interactive online mapping tools to find the fastest and easiest route to the Garden.
The Garden provides free tours twice per day, at noon and 1 p.m. Private tours are available for large groups by prior arrangement. Young children must be supervised at all times while in the Garden, and pets are not permitted. Only authorized service animals are allowed.
Due to the delicate nature of the plants, art and architecture, Lan Su Chinese Garden visitors must stick to defined paths and may not pick or walk on any of the vegetation. Drinks are allowed if they are covered, but the only food allowed in the Garden outside of the Tea House are small portions of snacks for infants and young children. Glass containers are not permitted at any time for safety reasons.
Visitors with specific questions or concerns are invited to contact the Garden directly during business hours for assistance.