Top 5 UNESCO Attractions To Visit While On Your Private Suzhou Tour

Situated in the southeastern portion of Jiangsu province, is the sensational city of Suzhou. Deemed the “Venice of China”, this stunningly beautiful city is world-renowned for its exquisitely designed gardens, canals, pagodas, and stone bridges. With over 2,500 years of history, Suzhou enjoys the status of being one of the major tourist attractions in all of China. Here are the top 5 UNESCO attractions to visit while on your private Suzhou tour.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Humble Administrator’s Garden

Located at 178 Northeast Street, Gusu District, Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest of Suzhou’s gardens and one of the most famous in China. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. As one of Suzhou’s nine famous masterpieces of classical Chinese garden design, it is a perfect UNESCO attraction to visit on your private Suzhou tour.

Dating from the Shaoxing period (1131 to 1162) of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 to 1279), Humble Administrator’s Garden is considered to be an incredible example of classical garden design in southern China. Covering an area of 12.84 acres (5.195 ha), it is divided into three sections – the Central Garden, the Eastern Garden, and the western Garden. All three of these garden sections are formed around a large, tranquil lake and contain a total of 48 buildings. In addition, in the southern section of Humble Administrator’s Garden is Suzhou Garden Museum. This is the only garden-themed museum in all of China and definitely worth the visit.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Tongli Ancient Town

Situated on the outskirts of Suzhou, is Tongli Ancient Town. Part of the collection of ancient waterfront towns in the southern section of the Yangtze River, Tongli was inscribed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. A mere half-hour away, this exceptional ancient water town is the perfect UNESCO attraction to visit on your private tour of Suzhou.

This beautifully well-preserved ancient town has several major attractions, including Retreat & Reflection Garden (which is part of the “Classical Gardens of Suzhou UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Pearl Tower, Luoxing Zhou, and Three Bridges. Tongli is renowned for its 55 bridges, but the three most famous (aptly referred to as Three Bridges) are Taiping, Jili, Changqing Bridges. Each of these bridges represents some sort of blessing. As a common practice, locals walk across the three bridges while praying for happiness and good health in life.

Zhouzhuang Ancient Town

Located in Kushan 30 km southeast of Suzhou, Zhouzhuang Ancient Town has an extensive history spanning over two thousand years. Part of the ancient water towns deemed a World Heritage Site in 2008, Zhouzhuang is a must-see UNESCO attraction on your Suzhou private tour.

The original site of this picturesque town dates from the ‘Spring and Autumn’ period (770 BCE to 476 BCE) of the Zhou dynasty. The town itself was founded in 1086 CE during the Northern Song dynasty (960 to 1127), when a devout Buddhist monk named Zhou Digong donated 32 acres of land to Quanfu Temple. In gratitude, the local people renamed the surrounding area “Zhouzhuang”, which translates to “Zhou Village”.

The total area of the ancient town now covers 124 acres, with numerous canals, and 14 bridges. Of the existing structures, 60 percent of the buildings were constructed during the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644), and Qing dynasty (1636 to 1912). One of the oldest building in all of Zhouzhuang Ancient Town is Chengxu Taoist Temple (also known as Shentang Hall). It was built from 1086 to 1093, during the Song dynasty, and is one of the most famous Taoist temples in Jiangsu province.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Lingering Garden

Considered one of the most beautiful gardens in Suzhou, Lingering Garden is one of the nine selected as a World Heritage Site in 1997. This stunning place is a definite must-see UNESCO attraction on your private tour of Suzhou. This garden was first constructed in the 16th century and has been given numerous names throughout the centuries. Originally, it was referred to as the East Garden and a local official known as Xu Taishi commissioned its construction. The garden was privately owned, until roughly 1823, when it became open to the public for all to enjoy.

Covering a total area of 23,310 square meters, Lingering Garden is divided into four separate sections: Central, East, North, and West Gardens, respectively. The main area is aptly referred to as the Central Garden and is the oldest section of Lingering Garden. The Western Garden has a collection of earthen hills dotted with Maple trees and yellow rocks. The Eastern Garden is renowned for its winding roofed walkway and its tranquility. The Northern Garden contains an extensive collection of precious bonsai trees, numbering over 500 in total.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Lion Grove Garden

Located in the northeast section of Suzhou, Lion Grove Garden is an incredible example of classical Chinese garden design. Part of the Suzhou classical gardens World Heritage Site, it is an excellent UNESCO attraction to visit on your Suzhou private tour. The garden is so named what for the gigantic lion-shaped rock grotto resembling a pride of lions. This is an intricate 1,154 square meter grotto made of Taihu rocks, which is a kind of porous limestone found around Dongting Mountain outside Suzhou.

First constructed in 1342 CE during the Yuan dynasty (1271 to 1368), Lion Grove Garden was built by Wen Tianru (a Zen Buddhist monk) in memory of his master, Monk Zhongfeng. Initially, the garden was 6,670 square meters, but now covers a total area of 2.7 acres.

Throughout the centuries, Lion Grove Garden fell into disrepair but received several major reconstructions. In 1956, Lion Grove Garden was opened as a public park. Divided into two main sections, the garden contains a rockery surrounding a pond, and a housing complex. There are 22 structures throughout the garden including pavilions, halls, and other buildings. Lion Grove Garden is also home to 13 species of rare, ancient trees some dating from the Yuan dynasty.

Recommended Suzhou Tours

1-Day Suzhou Tour, See Gardens And Zhouzhuang Water Town

Visit the classic gardens in Suzhou, which are UNESCO World Heritage Site and explore the charming Zhouzhuang Water Town.

1 Day Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Tour from Shanghai (Private)

1 Day Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Tour Highlights: Suzhou is both an ancient and modern city. Representative water town-Zhouzhuang.

One Day Breathtaking Suzhou and Tongli Tour from Shanghai

Exquisitely designed private garden in Suzhou. The well-preserved ancient residence and stone bridges in Tongli. Leisurely boat rowing experience in Tongli.

Want to see more tours? View our Suzhou Tours page.


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Sarah Bauder

Sarah has been extensive experience as a scribe, from travel writer to screenwriter, to a writer short stories. When she’s not doing one of those three things, she enjoys traveling, cooking, adventuring, reading, and anything involved being in (or under) water.
Sarah Bauder