Known as a paradise city in earlier days, Suzhou has been as famous a city as Hangzhou. Closer to Shanghai and Taihu Lake, Suzhou is located in the center of Yangtze River Delta, in the southeast corner of the Jiangsu province. Since 42% of the surface area of the city is covered by water, including a vast number of ponds and streams, Suzhou is praised as the Venice of the Orient. Some of these bodies of water include Lake Tai (Grand Lake) and the Grand Canal (which divides Suzhou). For its celebrated history and culture, as well as the splendid natural and cultural landscapes exemplified by the classical gardens, Suzhou is a legendary tourist city of China.
Built in 514 BC, Suzhou is a city with a 2500 year history. The unique characteristics of the past are still retained in present-day Suzhou. The double-chessboard layout of Suzhou, with the streets and rivers following side by side while the water and land routes run in parallel, are preserved basically intact. Strolling the streets, you can feel the unique lingering charm of this landscape left by its long history.
There is a saying, “Gardens to the south of Yangtze River are the best in the world, and Suzhou gardens are the best among them.” These gardens attain their lofty reputation not only for sheer numbers, but also for their charming natural beauty and harmonious construction. At present more than sixty gardens are kept intact in Suzhou, and a series of them have been listed in the World Heritage List, including the Humble Administrator's Garden, the Lingering Garden, the Garden of Master of Nets, and the Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty.
Rated alongside these classical gardens are the exquisite water townships in Suzhou. Towns such as Zhouzhuang, Mudu, Tongli Town should not be missed by any visitor. In each of these water townships of Suzhou, a number of Ming and Qing dynasty preserved buildings can be found. The natural sights and landscape designs enhance each other's beauty, a reward for visitors who linger there.
Being the cradle of Wu Culture, Suzhou plays a vital role in Chinese cultural history. Many great names and schools of art arose here. For example, the Wumen Fine Arts School is the finest in the history of Suzhou, represented by Shen Zhou, Wen Zhengming, Tang Yin, and Qiu Ying, whose poems, calligraphy and paintings are considered historical artifacts. Pingtan, Kun Opera, and Suzhou Opera are praised as “three flowers” in the cultural history of Suzhou. Furthermore, embroidery, fans and brocade produced in Suzhou are noted worldwide. If you want to explore more of their history, visit the museum of Suzhou folk-costume for a thorough description.
As one of the famous tourist cities in China, Suzhou has made great strides in improving its guest facilities for the comfort and convenience of guests. Suzhou is accessible by plane, train, and bus. Star-rated hotels with quality service and reasonably priced guesthouses and hostels provide a range of lodging choices. Of course, tasting local delicacies should not be forgotten in your journey. Authentic Suzhou cuisines and snacks can be found in Guan Qian Street, where delicious food and friendly service are notable. When night falls, Suzhou City is quiet and peaceful. You can enjoy the soothing atmosphere while sipping a cup of tea in the many teahouses.
How to get there
Hangzhou and Suzhou, which share cultural roots, are quite close to each other. The routes to Suzhou from Hangzhou mainly include train and bus.
Fifteen trains run between Hangzhou and Suzhou daily. Seven of them run between Hangzhou Railway Station and Suzhou Railway Station. The other eight trains run between Hangzhou East Railway Station and Suzhou Railway Station. The bullet train takes two hours and forty minutes to reach Suzhou. Costs run between 89 Yuan and 107 Yuan.
Passengers can take long distance buses to either Suzhou South Bus Station or North Bus Station. More than 20 buses are available between the two cities. The two-hour trip costs 71 Yuan. Passengers can board at either Hangzhou Passenger Transport Central Station or North Bus Station. Buses from Hangzhou North Bus Station arrive at Suzhou North Bus Station, while travelers departing from Hangzhou Passenger Transport Central Station arrive at Suzhou South Bus Station.