Roam Free Tours | Engaging China City Walking Tours

Suzhou City: A Perfect Add-on to Your Shanghai Trip

Why Suzhou?

If you have more than four days planned for staying in Shanghai, seeing some natural beauty or historical sites away from the city may be a great add-on to your trip.

Being the most well known cultural and historical heritage, plus the convenience of transportation, Suzhou, a city 100 KM away from Shanghai, is absolutely one of your best choices!

Suzhou is located in southern Jiangsu Province in the center of the Yangtze Delta. It is known as the Garden City of China, but to the rest of the world, it’s the Venice of China.

Historically, Suzhou was the city symbolizing high culture, as it had generations of artists, scholars, writers. Suzhou’s Garden, which represents the elegant aesthetics of the top social class, were mostly built by famous scholars. They standardized the classical Chinese garden design elements, such as artificial landscapes mimicking natural scenery of rocks, hills, and rivers located with pavilions, reflecting the Chinese appreciation of balance and harmony. People comment that Suzhou garden as the “most refined form” of garden art.

Like other modern cities in China, Suzhou has been through urbanization but still preserves the charming ancient gardens and temples. We recommend you spend 1-2 days here to enjoy the beauty of Suzhou.

How to get there

Suzhou is 100km (62mi) away from Shanghai, which takes only 30 minutes’ high-speed train. Shanghai Pudong Airport and Hongqiao Airport also have shuttle buses to Suzhou.

What to see

Pingjiang Road (平江路)

Pingjiang Road area has been a famous commercial pedestrian ever since the city was established. It is the largest historical block in Suzhou. Here you will encounter temples, bridges, ancient residences, and of course, restaurant and souvenir shops. You can take a boat ride on the Grand Canal to immerse yourself closer to the historical feeling there.

Opening Hours: 24 hours but most stores closed around 9 pm

Admission: Free entrance

Nearest Metro Sation:Xiang Men Station by Line 1

Suzhou Museum (苏州博物馆)

Founded in 1960, Suzhou Museum has been a highly-regarded regional museum with a large number of significant Chinese cultural relics. The museum is designed by world-famous architect I.M.Pei completed in 2006. Its design interprets the traditional Chinese palace complex architecture in a modern way featuring black and white tones reflecting the old Suzhou architecture style. It houses over 30000 cultural relics, most notably for excavated artifacts, Ming and Qing Dynasty paintings and calligraphy, ancient arts, and crafts.

Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm from Tuesday to Sunday (No entry after 4 pm)

Admission: Free entrance

Address: No. 204 Dong Bei Street, Gusu District, Suzhou City

Nearest Metro Sation:Beita Temple Station by Line 4

Four Classic Gardens of Suzhou

The four gardens listed below are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. As the city’s world-renowned cultural icon, it is definitely worthwhile to check at least one of them!

The Humble Administrator’s Garden (拙政园) 

The Humble Administrator’s Garden was originally built in 1509. It was initially a private garden of a former government servant named Wang Xianchen during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).  This garden is the largest in Suzhou, also being the most typical symbol of classic Suzhou garden. It features water and natural landscape, including forests, hills, and rocks with pavilions, halls, and parlors scattered among the landscape. The harmony of nature and architecture makes the garden a man-made utopia.  We recommend you to visit here in the summertime as it is the best time to appreciate the lotus in the garden, and you can feed the goldfish to get some good luck since they are believed as the lucky mascot by Chinese.

Opening Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Mar. 1–Nov. 15) / 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Nov. 16–Feb. 29)

Admission: 70 RMB (Oct.31st-Apr.15th); 90 RMB (Apr.16th-Oct.30th)

Address: No. 178 Dong Bei Street, Gusu District, Suzhou City

Nearest Metro Sation:Beita Temple Station by Line 4

Lingering Garden (留园)

Lingering Garden was initially built in 1593 and is famous for the beauty of its magnificent halls, and various buildings. The garden is divided into four sections: East, West, North, and Central, according to different architectural styles. The central part is recognized as the best since it is the original garden remains while the other parts were later added during the Qing Dynasty.

Opening Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission: 45 RMB (Jan.–March, June, Nov.–Dec.) / 55 RMB (April–May, July–Oct.)

Address: No. 338 Liuyuan Road, Gusu District, Suzhou City

Nearest Metro Sation:Shantang Street Station by Line 2

Master of the Nets Garden (网师园) 

Built-in the 12th century and expanded in the 18th century, Master of the Nets Garden is smaller compared to the other three, but well-known for its exquisitely designed garden and nightly Kunqu opera performance. The principal garden is arranged around the large pond, with style being called “close to the water.”

Opening Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Apr. 16–Oct. 30) / 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Oct. 31–Apr. 15) / 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Mid-Mar.–Mid-Nov.)

Admission: 30 RMB (Jan.–Mar., June, Nov.–Dec.) / 40 RMB (Apr.–May, July–Oct.) / 100 RMB for a night tour (Mid-Mar.–Mid-Nov.)

Address: No 1, Kuo Jia Tou Lane, Gusu District, Suzhou City

Nearest Metro Sation:San Yuan Fang Road Station by Line 4

Lion Grove Garden (狮子林)

Built-in 1342, Lion Grove Garden is regarded as the “Kingdom of Rockery.” The rocks in the garden are delicately piled up and make the garden renowned for its rock maze made from the famous Taihu Lake limestone. It is also said that the rocks were originally assembled to mimic different lion postures.

Opening Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Mar – Oct 15) / 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Oct 16 – Feb)

Admission: 30 RMB (Nov–Apr.15) / 40 RMB (Apr.16– Oct)

Address: No.23 Yuanlin Road, Gusu District, Suzhou City

Nearest Metro Sation:Beita Temple Station by Line 4

Tiger Hill (虎丘)

Located in the northeastern corner of Suzhou, Tiger Hill Scenic Region consists of pagodas, temples, pools, springs, and bonsai gardens. This area has more than 2500 years and has a lot of historical remains such as the Tomb of the Helv(the king of ancient Wu), the Sword Pool, the third Spring of the World, the 10th-century Huqiu Pagoda (one of the oldest brick pagodas in China and the most famous leaning pagoda in China) and so on.

Opening Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Admission: 60 RMB (Jan – Mar, June, Nov – Dec) / 80 RMB (Apr, May, Jul – Oct)

Address:No.585 Huqiu Hill, Gusu District, Suzhou City

Nearest Metro Sation:Shantang Street Station by Line 2

What to eat in Suzhou

Suzhou is a paradise for gourmet food for its mild, sweet, and delicate cuisine. Also don’t miss the chance to try hundreds of soup noodles there!

Sweet & Sour Squirrel-Shaped Fish  (松鼠桂鱼)

Crispy on the outside, moist and tender inside, the Squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish is indeed a legendary dish in Jiangsu cuisine. In making this dish, a whole fish is deboned with the fillet still attached to the tail, the fillet is then cut in a cross-hatch pattern and when deep-fried, will look like a squirrel in flight. The sauce served with it is sweet, slightly tangy and pleasantly red. Red is the auspicious color for the Chinese, so this sauce is extremely appropriate for the Chinese New Year.

Cracking Eel Paste (响油鳝糊)

As Suzhou is surrounded by lakes, many of the local dishes contain aquatic animals, such as the yellow eel. This is a famous dish with sliced fresh eel cooked with rice wine, soy sauce, and seasoned with scallion, garlic, and pepper. This dish gets this name as it is served with hot oil poured all over that creates the sizzling sound.

Suzhou Noodles

Soup, noodles, and toppings are the three basic elements with the soup being the soul of its taste. Authentic Suzhou style noodles should follow:

  1. The soup must be clear. It is said that each noodle shop has its own secret soup recipe.
  2. Noodles should be soft and smooth.
  3. Toppings will change by season, each season the noodles have special toppings.

Classic Pork Noodles

Seasonal Crab Roe Noodles

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