Trumpeted as the “Venice of the east” Suzhou is located in the south of Jiangsu province, only 50 miles west of Shanghai. The city has been famous for its classical Chinese gardens. A Chinese proverb says that: “In heaven there is paradise. On earth there are Suzhou and Hangzhou.” Suzhou has a long and strong reputation for its scenery and silk. The city is dotted with lakes and ponds connected by canals. And all the canals are lined with whitewashed houses with gray-tiled roofs — a charming city with a disarming setting.
Our Suzhou tours will take you right into the heart of Suzhou and show you its scenic backdrops, running canals, and its history. The present-day Suzhou once belonged to the Wu state during the relatively peaceful Spring and Autumn (770-476 BC) period. With a history of over 2500 years, Suzhou is the original birthplace of Wu culture and the Wu dialect.
The city of Suzhou got its present name during the Sui Dynasty. Suzhou and Nanjing are two cities of the same importance in the province. Present-day Suzhou is a modern, bustling metropolis with a developed economy. Through the cooperation with Singapore government, Suzhou has gained new areas with garden like communities and streets.
And the legends call Suzhou the Venice of the east for a reason. It’s a city with many famous water towns, some of the best in China. The architecture is mostly in white walls and tiles surrounded by canals and stone bridges decorated in the city. The Kun Opera, one of the oldest operas in China and a treasure in Chinese traditional cultures and arts, originated from the Kunshan area of Suzhou — a must-visit while you tour Suzhou.
During the middle era of Ming Dynasty to Qing Dynasty, Kun Opera became the most influential opera all over the country. You can find Kun Opera fans lining up in theaters in Suzhou, Shanghai and Hangzhou.
For foodies, Suzhou cuisine is the division of Jiangsu and Zhejiang cuisine. It’s essentially the same as the cuisine in Shanghai. The dishes are mostly served with sweet flavors. The local residents also indulge in many kinds of pastries and desserts, all tasty treats which you can try during your Suzhou tour.
But beyond dessert, let’s remember Suzhou has preserved many countless cultural relics throughout history. The city is known for their Suzhou Gardens, all important symbols of the city, calming environments that instantly exude sophisticated elegance.
By the end of the Qing Dynasty, there were more than 170 gardens, mostly private today, 19 of which are open to the public. Some of the more famous ones include: Lingering Garden; the Garden of the Master of Nets; and the Humble Administrator’s Garden.
Tiger Hill is also another popular destination among visitors. It’s supposedly the burial place of the King of Wu. The famous poem, “Overnight Stay at Feng Qiao” by Zhang Ji, a Tang Dynasty poet who rose to fame at the Cold Mountain Temple, found inspiration at Tiger Hill.
And there’s more. If you pay a visit to Humble Administration Garden, don’t forget to include the close Suzhou Museum. It’s a modern museum with fabulous and ancient buildings, a must-see when you tour Suzhou.
For more information about Suzhou tours, feel free to contact us at 1-888-373-6882.
SUZHOU THINGS TO DO
Humble Administrator Garden
Located on Dongbei Street of Suzhou, the Humble Administrator Garden is a classic southern-China-style garden built in 1509. The whole garden is divided into three parts, sparse in east and dense in west with water all around. It covers 5.6 hectares (13.8 acres) and is one of the top 5 most famous gardens in the country and the largest in Suzhou.
Ranked as one of the top four most famous gardens in China, the Lingering Garden of Suzhou is also a World Heritage site. It offers a charming setting for any Pingtan and Kunqu opera performance and swallows up an area of 5.8 acres (about 23,300 square meters). The garden was bought by Liu Shu, a calligraphy lover who designed masterpieces and collected strange rocks in Lingering Garden.
Lion Grove Garden
Built by Zen Buddhist disciples of Monk Tianru as a memorial of their master, the Lion Grove Garden is also recognized as one of the top four famous gardens in China. It was historically recorded that the site of the temple had a lot of strange stones that shaped like lions. The garden has inspired many poems and artworks throughout history.
It’s interesting to see the giant old bell in the Hanshan Temple. The monks here will strike the bell 108 times in the Lunar New Year — a backpacker’s experience to the point. Legend has it that the bell represents a man who had came forward 108 times, worrying about life. By listening to the 108-strikes, you are reminded to expel all the worries in your mind.
Tongli Ancient Town
An ancient town in the Yangtze River Delta, located south of Suzhou city in Jiangsu Province, the Tongli Ancient Town is both pretty and charmingly rustic. The Tongli abode is famous for its fertile paddy fields, rich natural resources and outstanding natives, rightfully giving its nickname, “Small Oriental Venice.”
Suzhou Silk Museum
During the Tang and Song Dynasties, Suzhou has already become China’s silk capital. The silk garments in the Ming and Qing Dynasties mostly came from the skillful craftsmen of Suzhou. The Suzhou Silk Museum features a classically elegant yet unconventional exhibition. It’s a unique take on Suzhou’s rich and silky history.
Poet, Su Shi once was quoted saying, “It is a lifelong pity if having visited Suzhou you did not visit Tiger Hill.” Tiger Hill is the first leaping tower in China and the second in the world. It’s the symbol of the old Suzhou. The other famous sights is Sword Pool, The Tomb of King He Lu, and Tiger Hill Pagoda. Be sure to add this to your bucket list.
The Canglang Pavilion is the oldest garden in Suzhou and also one of the four most famous gardens in the city. It was originally the residential house for the noble caste of China’s Five Dynasties Period. The overall design of the Canglang Pavilion is of China’s Song Dynasty style, natural with immaculate simplicity.
Zhouzhuang Ancient Town
It’s located in the southwestern part of Kunshan affiliated to Suzhou, at the junction of Shanghai and Kunshan, a typical water town. As one of the six great ancient towns in the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Zhouzhuang enjoys its good reputation as, “the first water town in China.”
Panmen City Gate
The history of the Panmen Gate traces back to 514 AD. It was built by Wu State in the period of Spring and Autumn. Panmen is the only ancient city wall left intact in Suzhou, the oldest gate and the only existing water and land gate in China. Locals and historians believe it to be over 2, 500 years old. It’s one of Suzhou’s best kept secrets.
Fengqiao Scenic Area
Zhang Ji wrote a sentimental poem, “Boat Berths near the Maple Bridge” to describe this beautiful scene at Fengqiao. The area we see today was built in 1867. It’s an arch-shaped bridge with a big half-circle hole below, which tourists can travel underneath by boat — a scenery that weakens the knees and describes Zhang Ji’s poem.
Quyuan Park is a garden named after the former residence of Yu Yue, Quyuan Park. He was a famous scholar and an imperial official who flourished in the late Qing Dynasty. Yu Yue bought the land and engineered the space himself. He also dubbed the garden as “Quyuan,” which meant “man should make himself flexible in order to be perfect in one’s personality.”
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