Travellers looking for a unique experience can’t go wrong with Suzhou and you are guaranteed experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. Suzhou is located in southeastern China at the centre of the Yangtze River Delta, 90km west of Shanghai. One of the oldest cities in the region, it dates back more than 2,500 years. Today, Suzhou is one of the hottest travel destinations in China, offering plenty to see and do in a dynamic and beautiful setting.
Classical Chinese garden design flourishes in Suzhou, where nine of the city’s gardens have been designated Unesco World Heritage Sites. Two of these gardens, Humble Administrator’s Garden and Lingering Garden, are considered the most famous gardens in all of China. Humble Administrator’s Garden is the nation’s largest garden, defined by its pristine collections of small forests and the gentle patter of the water feature that is the garden’s backdrop. Lingering Garden blends man-made construction and nature’s beauty into one scenic experience. Domiciles and temples come together with native trees and flowers that intertwine along with intricate woodcarvings and a collection of rocks deliberately arranged in the garden by its original creators.
One of the best ways to enjoy the history and beauty of Suzhou’s landmarks and waterside gardens is relaxing in a boat. Known as the Venice of China, Suzhou’s narrow water passages are some of the oldest in the world and perfect for any traveller looking to take in the city’s original charm. Reach out and touch the plants in the garden of Mudu as you float by with the gentle backdrop noise of the boat’s soft paddle touching the water. Or, float beneath the famed bridges of the Wujiang District, where newlyweds routinely cross in the hope that the tradition will bring them happiness, peace and fortune.
Located adjacent to the Humble Administrator’s Garden is the Suzhou Museum, designed by world-renowned architect I M Pei, where guests are treated to a collection of ancient ceramics, woodcarvings and other cultural artefacts illustrating the past. The city is also home to the Suzhou Silk Museum, which showcases Suzhou’s title as the silk capital of China and offers guests a historical look at the silk production of yesteryear that made the city famous. Visitors can experience the step-by-step silk-making process starting with the silk worm and moving on to thread and finished products.
On the whole, Suzhou is a pretty safe place to visit, but like all cities, visitors should take the normal precautions to guard against the likes of pickpockets on buses and other local transport. Hawkers can also be quite pushy, but just stand your ground if you are not interested.
Suzhou is famed for its silk embroidery, so this would have to be one of the most obvious choices. The gift shop at the Silk Embroidery Research Institute is a great place to shop as it offers a variety of products, such as silk fans, lanterns and musical instruments for visitors to take home as keepsakes. Best of all, the quality is higher than similar souvenirs you’d find in the street stalls.
There’s something to suit all budgets, from guesthouses to mid-priced hotels. But if you are looking to splurge on a hotel, the Regalia Resort & Spa Ligongdi is a good choice and is renowned for its unique architecture and beautiful tropical gardens.
1. Take a boat ride through the canals
2. Hire a bike and explore the city
3. Visit some of the beautiful gardens
4. Check out the famed bridges of the Wujiang District
5. Take a tour of the Suzhou Silk Museum