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Suzhou-Venice of the East Awaits You with Its Stunning Canals

Suzhou, the epitome of Chinese beauty and elegance, is often overlooked by foreign visitors despite being a true gem in our country’s crown.

Only a stone’s throw away from bustling Shanghai, this city boasts a rich history dating back to 2500 years, steeped in cultural significance, and is the proud owner of some of China’s most breathtaking UNESCO recognized classical gardens, traditional water towns, and mesmerizing canal systems.

Trust me, as a local expert and a recent visitor on Visit Suzhou’s educational tour, I can vouch that Suzhou deserves more than just a mere day trip from Shanghai.

It’s a hidden treasure waiting to be explored.

How To Get To Suzhou?

  • The easiest way to get to Suzhou from Shanghai is by taking a high-speed train from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station (虹桥火车站)to Suzhou Railway Station. The journey takes approximately 30-40 minutes.

Where can foreign visitors book their train tickets online ahead? Here you go!

The Chinese site of this one is where I book all my hotels, flight tickets and tours wheather I travel domestically or internationally.

  • Alternatively, one can take a flight to Sunan Shuofang International Airport (苏南硕放机场) and then take a taxi or bus to the city center.

Where to Stay in Suzhou?

For a truly immersive Suzhou experience, I highly suggest staying in the heart of the city near a classic walking street.

During my visit, I chose to lodge in Pingjiang Lu(平江路), an iconic pedestrian street in Suzhou’s historic district.

The location was fantastic, with a tranquil water canal just steps away from my accommodation.

The area also teems with an abundance of shopping options, dining establishments, and charming coffee shops!

Chinese like to book hotels from ctrip.com including me as they offer the best deals with the largest chocies.

For the convenience of foreign travellers, the same company made an English site. Chinese once complained the offers on English site is cheaper than Chinese one.

Check the hotel options here!

Facts about Suzhou

  • Known as the “Venice of the East” for its picturesque canals and bridges
  • Renowned for its stunning classical gardens, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Humble Administrator’s Garden
  • A center of silk production and trade for centuries
  • Rich cultural heritage, including traditional Suzhou Opera and Kunqu Opera performances
  • Chinese saying” 上有天堂,下有苏杭 ” Above there is heaven, below there are Suzhou and Hangzhou.

Things to do in Suzhou

Sightseeing Along Suzhou’s Historic Streets

Discover Suzhou on foot or bike.

  • Visit Shantang St for temples & ancestral halls.
  • Shiquan St for Ming/Qing architecture & Master of the Nets Garden
  • Guanqian St for dumplings & confections, and Pingjiang St for teahouses & charming canals.
  • Shop till 10 PM at Jinchang’s Shilu Shopping St.

Suzhou’s streets HAVE IT ALL!

Explore the Charm of Suzhou’s Water Towns

  1. Zhouzhuang – Kunshan City

  • Impeccably preserved residential architecture
  • Winding canals and stone bridges
  • Enchanting fairytale-like atmosphere
  • Location: Kunshan City, Suzhou
  • Hours: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Admission: ¥100 (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.), ¥80 (4 p.m. – 9 p.m.)
  1. Tongli – Wujiang District

  • Sacred bridges (Taiping, Jili, and Changing)
  • Hundreds of gardens, temples, and mansions
  • 1,000-year-old town with rich history
  • Location: No. 1 South Zhongshan Road, Wujiang District, Suzhou
  • Hours: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Admission: ¥100 (day), ¥50 (evening)
  • 40 min from Suzhou -DiDi(Local car hailing app) ride (70-80 RMB) or metro (1.5-2 hours) available.

My Tips:

  • Tongli is my favorite place in Suzhou, fewer tourists and relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy a coffee by the river while leisurely exploring the area.
  • In Tongli, don’t miss the boat ride – 120 RMB for up to 6 people, 30-minute tour of the ancient town. A lovely way to see the city.
If you want to visit both water towns, many TOURS are organized from Suzhou and Shanghai. Check them out

Humble Administrator’s Garden

Get ready for a journey back in time to the stunning Humble Administrator’s Garden!

As the largest and one of the most magnificent classical Chinese gardens in Suzhou, it’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

Stroll over interlocking bridges and take in all the wonders this garden has to offer, from its sparkling water features and romantic pavilions, to its rich history and fascinating relics.

Sip on a cup of tea at the charming teahouse and visit the museum to uncover even more about this timeless treasure.

Next door, the modern Suzhou Museum stood in striking contract.

Suzhou Museum

  • Designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei in 2006
  • Showcases the best of Suzhou’s rich cultural heritage
  • Inspired by the region’s classical gardens with water and bamboo elements
  • Home to over 15,000 pieces, including ancient paintings, calligraphy, porcelain, and artifacts
  • A breathtaking blend of art and architecture
  • A must-visit destination for culture lovers

Song Shu Gui Yu-The sweet and sour fried squirrel Mandarin fish

The “Song Shu Gui Yu” is a traditional and popular dish in Suzhou and Jiangsu province, known for its unique sweet and sour sauce that is poured over the mandarin fish, giving it a distinct reddish-orange color.

This dish is often served during special occasions and celebrations, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Cherry Pork

Slowed cooked for several hours, perhaps accompanied by spiced peanuts and bean curd.

Final Words:

Suzhou is in the east side of China.

There is a hiden gem down south of China, very close to Taiwan worth your travellers attention!

Please note: If you’re a traveler in China, you’re likely aware of the restricted access to foreign websites and social media platforms.

With over 2 years of personal experience, I can attest to the stability and reliability of Astrill VPN, even during sensitive periods. (already tested 😛 )

They offer flexible monthly packages and I highly recommend them as the best VPN option for travelers in China.

FAQ:

What city is called the Venice of China?

It’s Suzhou in Jiangsu Province of China. Venice of China is its nickname.

How many foreigners live in Suzhou?

The expat population in Suzhou is currently estimated to be around 20,000, with a significant proportion of them being from Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, and Europe.

Why is Suzhou famous?

  • Its classical gardens, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Its silk production and history.
  • Its canals and waterways, which led to its nickname as the “Venice of China.”
  • Its rich cultural heritage and history, dating back over 2,500 years.

What does Suzhou mean in Chinese?

The name “Suzhou” originates from 9th year of the Sui Dynasty (589), when the Sui Dynasty extinguished the Chen Dynasty, abolished the Wu County and established a two-level system of states and counties.

Due to the presence of Gusu Mountain in the west of the city, the Wu County was changed to Suzhou.

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