If you go to China and don’t visit the Great Wall of China, did you really go to China? Contrary to the travel bucket lists you see circulating around the internet, there are a number of things to do and see beyond those checklists. And in China, the picturesque city of Suzhou is just that. Known as the Venice of China, the city is connected through a number of canals and waterways including the Suzhou Grand Canal that has been listed in the World Heritage Site List by UNESCO. Only a short train ride from Shanghai on the bullet train and a great stop before heading to other cities like Nanjing, here’s how to spend your trip exploring Suzhou, China.
Visit the Gardens in Suzhou
Lion Grove Garden
Best known for its multi-story rock maze that rises nearly 23 feet into the air, the Lion Grove Garden is known for the labyrinthine rockery, which was mostly made of the limestone from Taihu Lake. For visitors wanting to capture a beautiful photo at any of the gardens, try and arrive in the morning when they first open as the crowds will be slightly smaller.
Humble Administrator’s Garden
Throughout Suzhou, there are a number of historic gardens in the city that date back for centuries. Dating back to 1509, Humble Administrators Garden is the largest in Suzhou and is considered one of the greatest examples of quintessential Chinese landscape design.
Master of Nets Garden Night Show
While the Master of Nets is the smallest of the Classical Gardens in the city, in the evening the garden is transformed into an impressive performance living stage for a Kun Opera performance. This garden was also the garden that the replica in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City was modelled after.
Tiger Hill is one of the most popular garden areas for people to visit in Suzhou. Tiger Hill is best known for the slightly leaning Yunyan Pagoda, take time to explore the expansive grounds and delicately groomed bonsai trees.
Where to Shop in Suzhou
Shantang Street dates all the way back to 825 AD being one of the oldest commercial and cultural areas in the city. This is a great spot to grab a souvenir or taste a local delicacy like the sweet and sour fish at Song He Lou.
Wandering along with the canals to a neighbourhood filled with whitewashed buildings, tea houses and local shops that have remained intact for over 800 years. Drop by the Fuxi Tea House to see a traditional Kun Opera performance after grabbing dinner in the area. Hongdengji Restaurant is a local favourite but be sure to leave room for the sesame ball.
Suzhou Industrial Park
To experience the modern side of the city, the Suzhou Industrial Park where skyscrapers surround the Jinji Lake. In the evening, try and find a place to watch the musical fountain either from the waterfront promenade or an aerial view from the W Hotel.
Where to Stay in Suzhou
The Pan Pacific Suzhou Hotel is a perfect example of beautiful Chinese architecture with 481 uniquely designed guestroom. Guests are treated to an expansive buffet breakfast and have access to a number of high-end amenities. The Pan Pacific Suzhou Hotel is also connected to the Panmen Gate Scenic Area accessible to guests with their room key.
How to Get to Suzhou from Shanghai
Suzhou is located in the center of the Yangtze River Delta, approximately 60 miles west of Shanghai. It is easily accessible via three convenient area airports with non-stop flights from North America: Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA) offers bullet train service to Suzhou, which is approximately a 50-mile, 30-minute trip; Pudong International Airport (PVG) is approximately 65 miles from Suzhou, an hour and a half drive; and Sunan Shuofang International Airport (WUX) is approximately 14 miles from Suzhou, a 30-minute drive.