Located in southern Jiangsu Province, Suzhou is a city known for its vast number of ponds and streams on account of 42% of its area covered in water, and has been praised as the ‘Venice of the Orient’. The city is divided by the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal from north to south, and built in 514 BC, Suzhou has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich history, which spans over 2,500 years. Suzhou is also a major center for silk production and manufacturing, and a tour of a silk factory here provides an interesting and educational glimpse of this Chinese textile industry.
Things to do
The Humble Administrator’s Garden – Popularly considered as the ‘mother of Chinese gardens’, the Administrator’s Garden is the largest and most renowned classical landscape garden in Suzhou, covering an area of 5.6 hectares. Why see this? Well, for those tourists that love traditional Chinese architecture and gardens you can be sure to get a few pictures of the parks, the pools built in the center with pavilions as well as the sheer hills, old trees and the green bamboos. The best time to visit is in spring when the garden is brightened with green trees and blossoming flowers. With its classical and gorgeous gardens, it is no surprise that this is one of the most famous gardens in China.
Zhouzhuang Water Town – For those of you who prefer taking calm and relaxing boat tours Zhouzhang water town is a must see. Commonly known as the most commercialized water town in China, Zhouzhuang has often come to be seen as the a key hot spot for Shanghai and Suzhou visitors. What makes it unique are the old buildings and bridges, boat rides, crafts and the superb water town scenery. In order to fully enjoy the ancient architecture and the ‘old China’ scenery, we recommend spending at least one full day. You get to see the historic twin bridges, the Fu’an Bridge which was built during the Yuan Dynasty era amongst other key attractions. The whole experience is simply breath-taking.
Han Shan Temple – You haven’t made your mark at a Chinese city without visiting a temple. With the Han Shan Temple, visitors get to walk across the Maple Bridge and see the stone inscription of the famous poem Anchorage, written in the Tang Dynasty. A large bell hangs in the bell tower which tourists usually pay a small fee to strike.
Jinxi Ancient Town – Although not as popular as the former, tourists get to see the first museum of antique tiles and bricks in China, something that would fascinate collectors of antiques. The Ancient town is only 8km from the Zhouzhuang water town making it easier to arrange tours for both places.
Transportation in Suzhou
Like other tourist cities in China, Suzhou has a convenient public transport system. Most of the buses running in the city only take exact change so make sure you have some small coins before getting on. The price of regular buses is 1Yuan per person. Air-conditioned buses cost 2 Yuan per person. Tourists coming from Shanghai could get a Bullet train from the Hongqiao Railway station which takes about 30 minutes to get to Suzhou. Alternatively, the nearby Hongqiao West Traffic Center also operates coaches to Suzhou. The city also has a subway to get around, and there are over 4,800 regular taxis running in the downtown area to ensure convenient travel. However Suzhou, as a classic Chinese water town, many points of interest are located on narrow streets and alleyways where it is difficult for a bus or a taxi to pass through.Yet in this case, The rickshaws (two or three-wheeled passenger carts) can be hired to make your journey more convenient. The starting price of a rickshaw is 2 Yuan per person and then 4 Yuan for every additional kilometer.
Having a history of more than 2,500 years, Suzhou was a flourishing city of Southern China in ancient times, with abundant products and highly-developed economy. Todays shops are host to variety of commodities that will certainly see to the visitor’s needs. The city has a concentration of over 2,000 kinds of goods featuring local culture, such as Su embroidery, mandarin coats, pure silk clothing, carvings, carpet and tapestry. Popular places to shop are the In City Plaza, Jiuhuang Department Store, Yuanrong Times Square, and the Meiluo Shopping Mall.
Suzhou is not only an ancient city of thousands of years’ history, but also an open modernised metropolis, so it can boast of a great variety of traditional and modern entertainment options for different tourists. Suzhou is host to various musical performances and the Kun Opera (a form of traditional Chinese opera), is especially popular among tourists from around the world. Folk music and dancing and many other artistic performances will provide lasting memories of the ‘Venice of the Orient.’ Alternatively, Shiquan Street in Suzhou is host to numerous pubs where you can enjoy cheaper wine, warm service, good food and pool games. Many of the pubs also act as places for musicians and artists to get together, and as a result, performances are available in most venues down the street.