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Best things to do in Suzhou, China

In ancient times, Suzhou was called Dongwu. It was founded in 514 BC and has a history of more than 2500 years. Suzhou is the capital of the State of Wu in Spring and Autumn Period, and the birthplace of Wu culture. Suzhou is a representative city of Jiangnan culture, with its delicate, exquisite, and gentle characteristics.

Suzhou Classical Gardens
Suzhou Classical Gardens | Things to do in Suzhou, China, Asia

Suzhou is known as the "Garden City", "Oriental Water City", and "Heaven on Earth". The classical gardens in Suzhou can be traced back to the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 bc), developed in the Jin and Tang dynasties (266-907), flourished in the Two Song dynasties (960-1279), and reached their peak in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1912). Suzhou Gardens are a world cultural heritage site, with 108 gardens recorded in the Suzhou Garden List, of which 88 are open to the public.

Suzhou has portrayed the beauty of the Jiangnan water town to the extreme, making it a place that has been coveted by countless literati since ancient times. Suzhou has a unique water town style, the canal, bridges, streets, traditional folk houses and ancient towns, constitute the characteristics of Suzhou water town.

Classical Gardens of Suzhou

According to the Chinese, Jiangnan gardens are the best in the world, and Suzhou gardens are the best in Jiangnan gardens. Suzhou Gardens represent the highest artistic level of classical Chinese private gardens

The four famous gardens in Suzhou, Canglang Pavilion, Lion Grove Garden, Humble Administrator's Garden, and Lingering Garden, represent the garden art styles of the four dynasties of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

The Humble Administrator's Garden, known as the "mother of the world's gardens", is one of the representatives of classical gardens in Jiangnan Traditional Gardens. The Lion Forest Garden, known as the "Kingdom of Rockeries", is one of the most distinctive gardens in Suzhou's classical gardens. Lingering Garden, together with Beijing Summer Palace, Chengde Mountain Resort, and Suzhou Humble Administrator's Garden, is known as China's four famous gardens. Canglang Pavilion is the oldest ancient garden in Suzhou's old city.

Ancient town attractions in Suzhou

Arch Bridges, flowing water, and stone roads are common sights in Suzhou Ancient Town. There are many rivers, many bridges, many alleys, many ancient houses, and many famous people, which are the common characteristics of ancient towns in Jiangnan water towns.

What are the most well-known ancient towns in Suzhou? Zhouzhuang Water Town is located in Kunshan of Suzhou, and is known as "China's No. 1 Water Town". It was founded in the Northern Song Dynasty (1086). Tongli Water Town is located in Wujiang District. It is home to the Tuisi Garden, a world cultural heritage site. Luzhi Water Town enjoys the reputation of being the "bridge capital of the Jiangnan area". There are 41 stone arch bridges from the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

The old streets and alleys of Suzhou

The ancient city of Suzhou covers an area of 14.2 square kilometers and has a long history of more than 2,500 years. The typical representatives of Beijing's traditional culture are Hutongs and Siheyuans, while the characteristics of Suzhou's traditional culture are reflected in the historical and cultural blocks.

Guanqian Street is located in the center of Suzhou, is the most popular shopping gathering place in Suzhou, and has always had the reputation of being the "first business district of Suzhou". Pingjiang Road is the best preserved and largest historic district of Suzhou Ancient City, which can be called the epitome of Suzhou Ancient City. Located in the northwest of the ancient city of Suzhou, Shantang Street is about 3,600 meters long and directly connected to Tiger Hill. Tiger Hill Tower was built in the Song Dynasty. Because the tower is slightly inclined, it is known as the "Leaning Tower of Pisa in the East."

Famous mountains and lakes in Suzhou

Tianping Mountain, with an altitude of 221 meters, is famous for its "red maple, strange stones, and clear springs" and is one of the four major maple viewing destinations in China. Taihu Lake is the third-largest freshwater lake in China. With beautiful natural scenery, it is a popular leisure place for Suzhou locals. Jinji Lake is located in the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), close to the landmark Gate to the East, Suzhou International Financial Center (IFS), etc.

Best museums in Suzhou

There are 102 museums in Suzhou, which is a veritable city of museums. For a comprehensive understanding of the city, the Suzhou Museum is undoubtedly the first choice. Suzhou Museum is adjacent to Prince Zhong's mansion in the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace in the east and the famous Humble Administrator's Garden in the north. The Suzhou Museum was designed by the world-famous architect I.M. Pei.

Best food in Suzhou that locals love

Suzhou is one of the centers of food culture in eastern China, where Suzhou-style food culture is promoted. Suzhou's specialties mainly include Fried Mandarin fish (Cook the fish into a squirrel shape), Fried eel fish,  Suzhou-style fresh meat mooncakes, Kunshan’s Aozao noodles, Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs, Suzhou's Cangshu lamb, and so on.

Where to stay in Suzhou for first timers

When visiting Suzhou for the first time, it is recommended to stay in the Gusu district (old city), which is close to tourist attractions. If you prefer high-end accommodations, you can also choose Jinji Lake or the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park. If you want to go to Suzhou's ancient water towns, you can stay overnight if you have time.

The best time to visit Suzhou

Suzhou has four distinct seasons, and the best time to visit is in the spring and autumn. But in different seasons, Suzhou gardens have different, beautiful scenery.

How to get around and explore Suzhou

The most convenient way to reach Suzhou is to take a plane to Shanghai Airport and take a Bullet Train to Suzhou Station.

Railway Station: Suzhou Railway Station, Suzhou North High-speed Railway Station, all have direct subway access to the city center. Preference is given to Suzhou Station, which is close to urban attractions.

Metro: Suzhou's subway can reach most of the famous attractions. Some ancient towns can also be reached by metro.

Bus: Suzhou North Square Bus Station (close to Suzhou Railway Station), which has opened a number of buses to Jiangnan Water Towns, such as Zhouzhuang, Xitang, Luzhi, Wuzhen, etc.

There is no airport in Suzhou; the nearest airports are Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Wuxi International Airport.