Suzhou is located in southern Jiangsu Province in the center of the Yangtze Delta. Shanghai lies to the east, Zhejiang Province to the south, Wuxi City to the west and the Yangtze River to the north. The city is divided by the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal from north to south. Since 42% area of the city is covered by water, including a vast number of ponds and streams, it is praised as the ‘Venice of the Orient’. Built in 514 BC, this is an ancient city with over 2,500 years of history and numerous points of interest. The unique characteristics of the past are still retained today.
Places to see:
- Humble Administrator’s Garden (It is listed as a World Cultural Heritage site and has also been designated as one of the Cultural Relics of National Importance under the Protection of the State as well as a Special Tourist Attraction of China)
- Lion Grove Garden (Lion Grove Garden is located on 23 Yuanlin Road, in the northeast of Suzhou – a city with profound cultural background and convenient developmental advantages. It is one of the four most famous and representative gardens of ancient classical style in Suzhou City)
- Zhouzhuang Water Town (Zhouzhuang, one of the most famous water townships in China, is situated in Kunshan City which is only 18 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of Suzhou. It is noted for its profound cultural background, the well-preserved ancient residential houses, the elegant watery views and the strong local colored traditions and customs)
- Tongli Town (Originally named Futu (meaning a rich land), Tongli is an age-old but very well preserved water town with a history of more than 1,000 years. Located on the eastern shore of Taihu Lake, just 11 miles (18 kilometres) from Suzhou City, the town is 24 square miles (63 square kilometers) in area and has a population of over 33 thousand. True to its reputation, Tongli water town is a really wonderful travel destination where you can spend a marvelous holiday or experience traditional Chinese culture)
- The Master of Nets Garden (Sometimes the smallest package can contain the most magnificent gift. The Master of Nets Garden is a clear example of this. It is the smallest of the Suzhou residential gardens, yet it is the most impressive because of its use of space which creates the illusion of an area that is much greater than its actual size. Even more than the architectural achievement is the mood of tranquility and harmony that it embodies)
- Tiger Hill (Tiger Hill, known also as Surging Sea Hill, is a large hillock covering about 3.5 acres (14,100 square metres) and only 118 feet (36 metres) in height. Climbing it, you will find a number of historical sites some of which can be traced back over 2,500 years to the founding of Suzhou. Although the hill is relatively small it has rich history. These are just some of the highlights of what to be found there)
- Lingering Garden (Originally a classical private garden, it is one of the four most famous gardens in China. Possessing typical Qing style, it is well-known for the exquisite beauty of its magnificent halls, and the various sizes, shapes, and colors of the buildings. In 1997, it was recorded on the list of world heritage (UESCO)
- Shantang Street (Shantang Street, an ancient riverside pedestrian road in northwest Suzhou, Jiangsu, is very popular with tourists. From Changmen Gate (the west gate of the ancient city) in the downtown, it winds northwest on the northern bank of the Shantang River, and ends at scenic Tiger Hill)
There is no airport in the city and travelers should use the nearby Shanghai Pudong Airport or Hongqiao Airport. With four main train stations, the railway is well-developed. Frequent bullet trains run between Suzhou and Shanghai, which makes it possible to travel between the two cities in 30 minutes. Subway trains and convenient city buses can take visitors to most attractions within the city.
Suzhou currently has three rail transit lines in operation. Line 1 runs from Mudu in the west to Zhongnan Street in the east and Line 2 is a north-south line from Qihe to Sangtiandao. Covering 53 kilometers (33 miles) and 38 stations, Line 4 includes a main line (Longdaobang – Tongli) and a branch line (Hongzhuang – Muli).
According to the short-term plan, there will be an additional 4 lines and 105 stations. In the long planning, 9 more lines measuring over 380 kilometers (235 miles) with 181 stations will be added. There will also be an additional 6 tramways and 3 suburban lines planned in the future.
The ticket fare is CNY2 for the first 3.7 miles (6 kilometers), CNY3 for 3.7 to 6.8 miles (6 to 11 kilometers), CNY4 for 6.8 to 10 miles (11 to 16 kilometers), CNY5 for 10 to 14 miles (16 to 23 kilometers), CNY6 for 14 to 18.6 miles (23 to 30 kilometers), extra CNY1 for every additional 5.6 miles (9 kilometers) if distance over 18.6 miles (30 kilometers).
Suzhou is located in a subtropical monsoon climate zone, so the weather is mild and moist with four distinct seasons. It’s best to pay a visit between January and April because the weather is not too cold and the flowers are in full bloom until June. The Plum Rain Season of June is followed by a hot July. After July arrives the harvest autumn of pleasant climate. Both the fresh fruits and seafood will surely whet your appetite.
Suzhou has been called the ‘land of milk and honey’ since ancient times and Jiangsu cuisine, of which Suzhou cuisine makes up one important part, is one of the eight famous culinary arts in China. Suzhou dishes are praised highly by food connoisseurs from both home and abroad. Derived from local time-honored culinary skills, the cuisine attains its unique sweet flavor from strictly selected materials, an elaborate way of cooking, and a unique color, aroma and shape. Nearby Taihu Lake (Tai Lake) supplies abundant fresh sea food that adds more color to the table culture of Suzhou. At the same time, more consummate culinary skills are mastered by the locals.
It is an important custom for locals to eat specific dishes according to the changing seasons.
In addition to its natural beauty, Suzhou boasts a number of excellent local products, ranging from snacks to exquisite handcrafts. A fan, a piece of embroidery or a box of local snacks will be not only an excellent souvenir of your journey but the best gift to take home to your friends and relatives. There is no need to visit a large number of shops in search of the best local products, because most of the larger shops have been in business for many years and offer high quality goods. But if you don’t like a natural beauty, then you can come to the Mall. Just enjoy your shopping!
In addition to breath-taking scenery and unique handcrafts, Suzhou is rich in cultural heritage. Kun opera, Pingtan (a form of storytelling and ballad singing in Suzhou dialect) and Guzheng (a Chinese zither with 25 strings) are the traditional cultural arts of Suzhou and part of the locals’ daily lives. Visitors can visit the Master of Nets Garden at night to enjoy all three of these classical forms of entertainment. Folk music and dancing and six other artistic performances will provide lasting memories of Suzhou City. Don’t worry! There are some bars and nightclub too, so you still can enjoy your night vibes!