How to plan a tour to Suzhou

Briefing:

Suzhou, known as the Venice of the East, boasts many gardens, canals and bridges. It is one of the oldest cities in China with a history of more than 2,500 years. During this long history, wealthy families in Suzhou built beautiful gardens for entertainment. The gardens are not huge in size but their skillfully changing views from different angles make the gardens full of surprises. Suzhou gardens were World Heritage listed by UNESCO in 1997. It is a nice escape or add-on from Shanghai if your travel plan allows.

Best time to visit:

The many lakes, rivers and canals in Suzhou keep the city humid in winter, so traveling from April to October is warmer and more comfortable. Flower fairs since February and freshwater fish in Fall are bonuses to enjoy.

Suzhou (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
Mean Maximum Temperature ℃(℉) 8 9 13 19 24 27 32 32 27 22 17 11 20
46 48 55 66 74 81 89 89 81 72 62 51 68
Mean Minimum Temperature℃(℉) 1 2 5 11 16 20 25 25 21 15 9 2 12
33 35 41 51 60 69 77 77 69 59 48 36 54
Rainfall amount ㎜(inch) 39 59 81 102 115 152 128 133 156 61 51 35 1111
2 2 3 4 5 6 5 5 6 2 2 1 44
Days with Rain(≥ 0.1 mm) 6 7 9 10 10 10 9 8 9 6 5 5 94
Mean Monthly Sunshine Duration hrs 136 119 140 153 174 162 233 242 162 161 150 149 1980

What to see:

The Humble Administrator's Garden

The Humble Administrator’s Garden, built in the early 16th century, is one of the four most famous gardens along with the Beijing Summer Palace, the Chengde Summer Palace and the Lingering Garden in Suzhou. It is the biggest classical garden in Suzhou and is divided into east, middle and west sections, with each section having its distinctive features to explore.

The Lion Forest Garden, sitting next to the Humble Administrator’s Garden, is a small but unique garden with rocks from Taihu Lake. The name is from its lion shaped rocks but is also related to Buddhism. The rocks are stacked and arranged to form tunnels to trail through, under and over like a maze.

The Master-of-Nets Garden, the smallest but the most exquisite garden in Suzhou, is famous for skillfully using space to locate architecture and gardens. Its east section consists of residential buildings while the west section is gardens to admire.

Panmen gate

Panmen Gate, situated at the east-west corner of Suzhou by the old canal, is the only available water and land gate in China. Highlights in the Panmen Gate scenic attraction include Panmen Gate, Ruiguang Pagoda (built in 241) and Wumen Bridge (the biggest single-spanned arch bridge over Beijing-Hangzhou Canal).

Tongli Water Town, one of the six ancient towns, was firstly built in the Song Dynasty. It is about 30 minutes from Suzhou, and the net-like water system divides Tongli into seven islands, while 49 well functioned bridges connect all islands together. Each house sits by the river and wooden boats are used for transportation. A boat ride is included for your experience.

Recommended Tour (3 Days)

tongli water town

Day 1, When you step out of the railway station, you will find your tour guide waiting for you holding your name at the exit. The comfortable A/C vehicle will take you through the city towards your hotel.

Day 2, Today’s focus is the representatives of Suzhou classical gardens. The Humble Administrator’s Garden starts the day, with two hours to appreciate the settings in this largest garden in Suzhou, then a stop by Lion’s Forest for a fun maze experience. After lunch visit the Master-of-Nets Garden and see how the garden owner designed the garden by making full use of space. A cultural show is available at night, offering different types of musical demonstrations. Or you can take a leisurely night walk on Pingjiang Road to see the old city or take a sip in a local cafe.

Day 3, After breakfast, visit Panmen Gate to witness the only water and land gate in China, proceed to Tongli Water Town and feel the charm of the Eastern Venice by taking a river cruise. After lunch you will be transferred to the railway station for your following destination.

How to get there

Note: There are no airports in Suzhou, bullet trains are the most used vehicle to connect main cities.

Recommended Hotels

Category Hotel Name Hotel Class Why Recommend Ranking on Trip Advisor
International Chain Shangri-La Hotel Suzhou 5-star √ Very clean and quiet rooms, sound proof
√ High standards in-house restaurants serving SE Asian food
√ Room service is topnotch
5
Crowne Plaza Hotel Suzhou 5-star √ Spacious bedrooms and bathrooms
√ Unique look as a large luxury boat
√ Sweet and professional staff
2
Renaissance Suzhou Hotel 5-star √ Fast, efficient and pleasant check-in
√ Walking distance to many good restaurants and shops
√ Rooms are very nice and comfortable with truly excellent beds
3
Best Value Pan Pacific Suzhou 5-star √ Hotel building alone is beautiful and filled with artefacts
√ Very good equipped room and bathroom with free wifi
√ Located in Panmen Scenic Area, free access to the garden behind hotel
12
Holiday Inn Jasmine 4-star √ Centrally located,near malls, restaurants and shops
√ Staff are very friendly and helpful and speak good English
√ Nice room with a view of the canal and ShanTang street
32
Garden Hotel (Liuyuan Road) - Lingering Garden 3-star √ Great breakfast with a lot of variety
√ Walking distance to Lingering Garden and entrance of old town Suzhou (and a Starbucks)
√ Clean and spacious rooms
54
Boutique Regalia Resort & Spa Ligongdi 4-star √ Beautiful views of Jinji Lake from rooms and in-house restaurant
√ Rooms are well appointed with comfortable beds and the L'Occitaine toiletries are nice surprises
√ Very friendly Staff speaking good English, willing to accommodate different needs
45