Suzhou is a city on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Lake Taihu in the province of Jiangsu, only 90 minutes drive from Shanghai. The city known as the “Venice of the East” is renowned for its beautiful stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed Classical Chinese gardens which have contributed to its status as a great tourist attraction. The popular attractions are summarised below:
Humble Administrators Garden
A classical, elegant garden in the heart of old Suzhou town, renowned as one of the best in China. Reflecting the Qing Dynasty design, the garden encompasses picturesque pools, pavilions, pagodas, plants, bonsai trees and flowers. The Suzhou museum next door is also worth a visit.
Pan Men Gate
Located in the south west corner of the Grand Canal, it’s history dates back nearly 2500 years built in the Yuan dynasty and is a significant landmark in Suzhou – being the most completely preserved part of the ancient city. It was extensively repaired in 1986 when the guard tower was rebuilt.
Gardens aside, the other highlight Suzhou is famous for is their silk making. A factory visit will show how silkworm cocoons are extracted into threads and turned into garments, quilts, pillow cases etc. Embroidered silk pictures are considered prestigious pieces of art – historically produced for the Court and Imperial family – the techniques from Suzhou are some of the oldest in the world.
Master of Nets Garden
Another classical Suzhou garden and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. First built over 800 years ago it has undergone numerous changes and renovations since the original version, but it still retains the name and spirit of the garden. Split into a residential quarter and gardens, plants and rocks are used to create views that represent different seasons.
The Canal links Suzhou to the capital Beijing and this connection aided its prosperity during the Ming and Qing dynasties as affluent traders settled in Suzhou bringing their wealth from the north with them. You can enjoy a tour down some of the smaller canals to see a slice of local life.