Suzhou, China is a memorable place to go to. Many vacationers solely pop in for a day journey from Shanghai to view its classical Chinese language gardens, however we advise spending a number of days to actually discover this beautiful metropolis within the Jingshao proving.
Referred to as the Venice of the East, we barely scratched the floor of all of the issues to do in Suzhou.
When you’ve got the time, it’s a place to chill out within the gardens, take within the vitality and pleasure of the nightlife and get misplaced within the again canals in probably the most livable cities in all of China.
1. Shantang Avenue
Shantang Avenue is Suzhou’s well-known road that’s an historical pedestrian path relationship again 1200 years. It strains both facet of the canal in Suzhou’s outdated metropolis.
Stretches from Shantaing River to Tiger Hill.
It’s 7 conventional Chinese language miles lengthy (2.38 miles) and crammed with outlets and eateries the place vacationers can take within the liveliness of town.
There are two sections to the road. The vacationer part has extra boutique-style outlets and western eating places like Dairy Queen and Starbucks, whereas the opposite half has extra conventional Chinese language outlets the place locals go about their each day enterprise.
2. Squirrel Mandarin Fish
It was right here on Shantang Avenue that we sampled Suzhou’s well-known fish dish, Squirrel Mandarin Fish.
Track He Lou has been serving conventional meals for greater than 250 years.
We ate a feast of recent family-style Chines meals such because the Suzhou candy and bitter mandarin fish, stir-fried shrimp and greens.
3. Canal Tour
Remember to take a ship tour alongside the Canal to sneak a peek at conventional life.
It could be prime actual property on the canal, however buildings right here can’t be renovated.
They’re tiny outdated properties that should be left as they had been, so as a substitute of wealthy Chinese language renovating homes for a weekend retreat, they’re left as they at all times had been with fundamental facilities.
Locals stay off the river, some with out correct kitchen, bogs or laundry services.
4. Shantang road at evening
Shantang Avenue is a very totally different vibe at evening and the crowds come out in droves to soak within the energetic ambiance.
We shortly made our manner via the slim road alongside the canal to the Chaozong Pavilion the place conventional Suzhou collides with the trendy metropolis.
On one facet of the canal is the picturesque pagoda and on the opposite is a mass of bikes lining the sidewalks gathering within the huge sq. crammed with quick meals, purchasing facilities, and eating places.
We had been welcomed by the group who appeared extra impressed with us being there than we had been of the scene earlier than our eyes.
5. Rickshaw Trip
Each time we go to China, we should take a rickshaw journey. When visiting Suzhou, the rickshaw’s took us via the quiet again streets and pathways lining the canals.
We stopped at a standard Chinese language market to view produce and a few very attention-grabbing eating selections.
It isn’t for the faint of coronary heart as stay frogs and turtles sit in mesh plastic awaiting their destiny.
However as we at all times say, “Not less than in Asia, they know the place their meals is coming from, not like the west the place we pack our meat neatly in styrofoam and plastic wrap pretending that it by no means lived within the first place.”
The tour ended at nightfall at one other well-known road of Suzhou, Pingjiang Highway.
6. Pingjiang Highway
Much like Shantang Avenue, Pingjang Highway is a pedestrian road spanning alongside the canal
It’s crammed with road distributors, cafes, memento outlets and loads of crowds.
There are picture alternatives alongside the canal as the road lights up for the evening.
I really like China at evening. The cities had been really designed for the darkish with lanterns and neon lights adorning the evening sky.
7. Chinese language Kun Opera
I do not know if I’d advocate seeing a complete Chinese language opera, however going to a small home in Pingjian Highway to look at an opera performer apply her make-up adopted by a present, is a should!
The Fuxi Tea Home on Pingjiang Highway offers guests the distinctive expertise of witnessing the transformation earlier than their eyes.
We sat down in a dim restaurant to look at an artist pull her face to excessive limits whereas portray her face to seem like a portray.
She advised us how the make-up was utilized and the way often opera performers have individuals assist them and it could actually take as much as an hour and a half to complete the work.
She has mastered her craft and managed to completed her transformation in 30 minutes!
Her face was pulled so tight that she mentioned (via our translator) that many new performers move out from the ache.
After she completed, she placed on a present for a packed corridor and though we could not perceive a phrase she was saying, we felt the enjoyable and delight the group was having. (we assume at our expense as the one foreigners within the constructing:)
8. Humble Administrator’s Backyard
Suzhou has 69 classical Chinese language gardens and 9 of the best are collectively they’re designated a UNESCO World Heritage Web site.
The Humble Administrator’s Backyard is probably the most well-known of all of the gardens. Relationship again 500 years, it is likely one of the 4 well-known gardens of China.
Not like the Summer season Palace or Forbidden Metropolis Backyard’s of Beijing that had been imperial gardens utilized by royalty, the Humble Administrator’s Backyard was owned by a non-public household.
This backyard really exhibits the wealth and prosperity of China’s elite.
Since it’s so standard, it will get very busy in a short time. We arrived very first thing within the morning and beat the crowds, however by 9:00 am, it was swarming with individuals.
9. Lion Grove Gardens
Not too far-off was the smaller but for my part extra spectacular Lion Grove Gardens.
Constructed-in 1342 throughout the Yuan Dynasty, Lion Grove Gardens was named after the rocks that resembled that of a lion.
What units this backyard aside is the multilevel rock formations referred to as rockeries that weave via waterways creating pathways up, over and thru ornamental rocks made of limestone from Taihu Lake.
We received misplaced in a maze of rocks designed to create a soothing ambiance of serenity and contemplation.
At the moment the crowds take away from the serenity, however they can not detract from the fantastic thing about the gardens. It’s really a murals.
10. Panmen Scenic Space
One other backyard that we loved visiting was the Panman Gardens. Related to our resort lodging, the Pan Pacific Resort, it gave us the chance to walk the grounds with out crowds throughout the off hours.
It’s a massive space housing pagoda’s, lakes, gardens, and bridges. The backyard leads out to the unbelievable Grand Canal.
11. Panmen Metropolis Gate
The Panman Gate is positioned right here on the Grand Canal and guests can enter right here crossing via the historic construction relationship again 2500 years.
It has the excellence of being the one preserved water and land metropolis gate on the planet.
Hooked up to the Previous Metropolis Wall, it’s attainable to stroll alongside the 300 metres (328 yards) which are nonetheless intact standing 5 metres (16 foot) excessive providing panoramic views.
Watch our Video: Issues to do in Suzhou, the Venice of the East
12. Boat Journey on Grand Canal
We took a stroll via the Panmen Gardens to the Grand Canal the place we hopped aboard a canal tour to soak up the sights alongside the water.
The Grand Canal is a should cease as it’s a part of the longest and oldest man-made waterway on the planet.
Referred to as the Golden Waterway, Development started on the Grand Canal in 770 BC. It spans an astounding 1776 km from Beijing to Hangzhou
Photograph attribute Groverlynn – CC BY-SA four.zero Wikemedia
13. Pan Pacific Resort
Whereas we’re right here, we should discuss our lodging, the Suzhou Pan Pacific Resort.
It is a vacation spot unto itself. Related to the Panmen Gardens, The Pan Pacific feels as in case you are staying in a standard Chinese language Palace. Modeled after the Forbidden Metropolis, it appears like a temple that boasts spectacular gardens of its personal.
We stayed within the new wing of the constructing and if you end up within the unrenovated facet (like we did at first) make sure you ask to vary.
The distinction between the 2 sections is like evening and day. So ask for the Govt Premier Rooms within the Backyard and Pagoda wings.
The Pan Pacific has a stunning in and outside swimming pool, health centre, spa, and three eating rooms.
14. W Resort for Water Mild Present
Like most cities in China, Suzhou has a unbelievable fashionable skyline and going to see it at evening is a should.
China actually comes alive when the solar goes down and on Friday and Saturday nights (days range by season) it places on a lightweight and fountain present much like the Bellagio in Vegas and the Dubai Fountain Present on the Burj Khalifa Lake.
We went to the highest of the W Resort the place it’s apparently, it’s the finest view. If you happen to actually need to see the present, I recommend attending to the waterfront early and watching it from under, however this was a superb comfort.
The view of the present itself was a bit obstructed so we needed to maneuver our manner round hanging cameras over the sting, but it surely was price it.
The ambiance on the W rooftop is elegant and the views of town and lake are attractive.
15. Stroll Alongside the Waterfront
After the present, take a stroll alongside the waterfront to see the sunshine present (till 10 pm) on portrayed on the magnificent constructing The Gate of the Orient.
This skyscraper appears like a pair of trousers and is the right backdrop for a lightweight spectacle displayed on the face of the constructing.
In case you are down on the waterfront throughout the fountain present, you will see the photographs displayed on the constructing, however in case you are up within the W Resort like we had been, you’ll have to wait till after the present to view the scene.
It is price seeing for certain!
16. Suzhou Industrial Park
Suzhou Centre Mall is an enormous purchasing centre full with skating rink, snowboard park, pony driving enviornment, and a carousel.
It is a mall that rivals the department stores of Dubai and it is a unbelievable place to get your purchasing on.
It’s such a formidable mall, that it even gained the award of Finest New Purchasing Centre” at MAPIC Awards 2018 in Cannes, France.
17. Suzhou Museum
Throughout our time in Suzhou, we had been fascinated to seek out out that IM Pei grew up close to right here.
In the course of the day of our go to to the Suzhou Museum which he designed, we came upon that he had simply died.
It was a really unusual feeling to be standing in entrance of certainly one of his nice architectural designs and be taught of his childhood dwelling whereas on the identical time studying that he handed away.
Suzhou was the normal retreat of his household and so they owned one of many gardens within the metropolis.
It is just becoming that he designed a murals in a spot that gave him such inspiration.
IM Pei designed The Louve pyramids, the Financial institution of China Hong Kong Tower and lots of different well-known buildings all over the world.
18. Tiger Hill Scenic Space
Constructed throughout the Track Dynasty, (960-1279) Tiger Hill has grow to be the unofficial image of Suzhou and is a well-liked vacationer attraction.
Considering we would must climb to the highest we had been shocked to hop on a golf cart that introduced us proper to the doorway of the Tiger Hill Pagoda.
We love how environment friendly the Chinese language are.
Tiger Hill Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Suzhou and it’s distinctive in the truth that it’s leaning.
Sure, we have all heard of the leaning tower of Pisa, however the Tiger Hill Pagoda has a formidable lean of 5 levels and when standing under the 158 foot (48 metres) tower you are feeling as if it could fall over at any second.
There are lots of sights to see within the three.5 acre complicated together with the sword pool the place it’s believed that King He Lu was buried along with his assortment of swords under the water,
19. Bonsai tree session
Bonsai masters are revered in Suzhou and it’s at Tiger Hill that we witnessed a formidable assortment of Bonsai Timber.
We met with a Bonsai grasp who taught us methods to prune bonsai bushes correctly.
Attempting our hand at a mature tree, my fingers shook as I frightened I’ll slip and wreck a masterpiece.
Nevertheless it all turned out and we discovered that to prune a tree correctly, you could reduce the place the department splits in three to be able to management which manner the go away develop.
Earlier than leaving the world, make sure you take a look at the 400-year-old bonsai that’s protected by a fence and solely reduce by the Bonsai grasp.
20. Grasp Yang Tai Chi
China is the birthplace of Tai Chi, and evidently at any time when we go there, we take a category. I do not know why we do not take up Tai Chi once we are at dwelling, it’s enjoyable and has many advantages.
As our muscle tissues and bones ache, we maintain telling ourselves to immerse in Tai Chi sooner or later.
Nevertheless it’s exhausting to prime a lesson with Grasp Yang. He’s a Tai Chi Champion in China and Hong Kong.
We met him on the Pan Males gardens for an early Tai Chi class and marveled at his abilities with a sword as he demonstrated what is feasible with this martial artwork.
What began out as a quiet and serene morning, shortly turned to a energetic efficiency as native Chinese language residents stopped by to look at us attempt our hand at their conventional artwork.
They took our photographs and a few even joined it. It was a festive occasion that introduced everybody collectively and we beloved each second.
If you wish to ebook a category, ask your information or concierge to telephone Grasp Yang. Everybody is aware of him, he is well-known!
21. Tongli Watertown
Suzhou is named the Venice of the East, however Tonglin Watertown really lives as much as it.
Only a one-hour drive from Suzhou, this beautiful city is the right place to get on a canal and take within the sights.
Tongli is certainly one of six historical cities south of the Yangtze River and it could actually even be reached by Shanghai public transit.
Like Suzhou, it has a classical Chinese language backyard to discover, there are canals operating via the city and pedestrian streets crossing over historical bridges to wander.
One of the crucial photogenic stops is on the canal tour once we handed a ship crammed with massive blackbirds. I feel this is likely one of the most recognizable scenes of Tongli.
Silk is a significant trade in Suzhou. In actual fact, college students learn to deal with silkworms in class right here.
A part of their curriculum is to take dwelling and lift silkworms correctly.
So visiting a silk manufacturing unit is a should.
I am unable to consider that Dave and I’ve by no means visited a silk manufacturing unit earlier than in all our travels. I used to be captivated by the method. The silk trade in China dates again 8500 years!
Silkworms are reared on the manufacturing unit the place they’re given loads of mulberry leaves to munch on earlier than they
See from the worms to the silk-making, boiling and threading.
One cocoon can create one kilometer of thread! Earlier than the cocoon is completed, it’s boiled and killed inside its protected haven earlier than it could actually hatch.
A handful of useless cocoons are then positioned in a threading machine the place the strands of silk are woven collectively making a powerful cloth.
This course of has been used for hundreds of years. The one factor that has modified is the expertise, however the worms do all of the work.
23. Marriage ceremony gown capital of the world
Being an enormous producer of silk, it’s no marvel that Suzhou is the marriage gown capital of the world.
They’ve a complete road devoted to marriage ceremony attire.
When Dave and I heard this, we weren’t too eager to go to a marriage gown market, however after visiting the manufacturing unit and studying of how enormous the trade was, we had been recreation to seek out out extra.
We had the chance to go to the most important provider of marriage ceremony attire – Jusere – in China and so they had an unbelievable show.
Not solely did they’ve marriage ceremony attire, however in addition they have a non-public room the place they gown film stars and dignitaries.
Folks fly from all all over the world to have a gown made right here.
Even when you aren’t into large fancy weddings, the marriage gown market or a manufacturing unit tour is an attention-grabbing tour in Suzhou.
24. Embroidery Institute
And the ultimate cease for artistry was the Embroidery Institute. Anyone has to have the abilities to embellish these lovely attire.
Embroidery artists are one other revered job in Suzhou and ladies work on intricate patterns with swaths of thread to create embroidery artwork and clothes.
The work is so troublesome that they must take common breaks to meditate within the backyard.
You will need to have younger eyes to be an embroidery artist, I could not even see the attention of the needle after they confirmed me how they thread it.
Okay, I’m impressed!
25. Grasp of the Nets Present
Our last night in Suzhou ended with one of many prime issues to do in Suzhou in keeping with different web sites.
I discovered this humorous and realized that many individuals most likely did not trouble doing this, they most likely simply examine it on one other web site and put it of their submit. Ah, the Web.
However the backyard itself is taken into account one of many most interesting in Suzhou, so you need to see it.
The Grasp of the Nets present is a kitschy efficiency of conventional Chinese language music, folklore, and poetry. We could not perceive a factor and the group moved from one room to a different via the gardens.
It was a reasonably show because it was lit up with colourful lights, but it surely undoubtedly wasn’t a mindblowing cultural efficiency.
The musicians appeared bored and the performers appeared like amateurs.
Clearly, each bundle tour goes to this, so likelihood is, in case you are on an organized journey via Suzhou, you’ll be seeing the Grasp of Nets.
The very best recommendation I may give you is to run forward of the group after every brief efficiency to be able to get a seat on the subsequent cease. They pack individuals in!
Suzhou is an incredible vacation spot in China. I can see it turning into a bigger cease on individuals’s China itinerary and shortly, it will not be simply Chinese language vacationers exploring the gardens and Canals.
Whether or not you’re a fan of conventional or fashionable China, Suzhou has all of it. I’d rand town proper up there with Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing as a must-visit city heart of the nation.