One of the most famous cities in China, Suzhou beautifully represents cultural and historical places. Founded in 514 BC, Suzhou often called “Heaven on Earth”. It has a variety of attractions to offer for their visitors such as rivers, historic temples, museum, hills, ancient house, gardens, and much more.
The city is also famous for its silk production and handicrafts. Here are the 10 Things to Do and Places to Visit in Suzhou:
1. Walk around Humble of Administrator Garden
Built-in 1509 during Ming Dynasty, Humble of Administrator Garden (also known as Zhuozhengyuan Garden in Chinese) is one of the largest of nine UNESCO world heritage sites garden in Suzhou. This 500-year-old garden belongs to a retired government official Wang Xianchen and is one of the top four gardens in China.
Covering an area of 5.6 hectares (13.8 acres), the garden is divided into three parts namely east, central, and west. The eastern part is divided into four tourist spots and cover the area of 5 acres. The main attractions are Lan Xue Tang, Tinquan Pavilion, Pinery Lawn. The main building here is the Cymbidium Goeingii Hall.
With the pool in centers, the western region covers an area of 2 acres. There are some former attractions such as tower shadow pavilion and the stay & listen pavilions and well as some newly built attractions such as Flos Daturae view (18 Camellias Hall) and Salio Mandarin Duck Guan ( 36 Pairs of Mandarin Duck’s Hall) which is separated into two parts south and north with the partition board.
The primary attraction of the garden is the central part where interconnected ponds are surrounded by pavilions, halls, corridor, and small bridges covering an area of 3 acres.
The interiors of the gardens are decorated with Ming Dynasty antiques, mini bamboos, pine forests, lotus pool, open courtyards of varying sizes which makes the garden even more beautiful.
Plan your visit towards the end of summer and you’ll experience the lotus growing in the middle o the water making the garden looks breathtaking. In the mid-March to early May, you can also witness the Azalea festival. As it is the most famous garden in Suzhou, you can expect the crowd.
2. Walk around Lingering Garden
Next in the list is another UNESCO world heritage site from Ming Dynasty, Lingering Garden (known as Liu Yuan in Chinese) is half a size of Humble Administrator’s Garden.
If you want to experience the classic example of the Qing Dynasty’s garden landscaping then this is the one. Situated in 2.3 hectares ( 5.6 acres), the garden is divided into four themed sections namely East garden, Central garden, West garden, and North garden.
Walk around the beauty of Lingering Garden and amazed yourself by witnessing the beautiful architecture, perfectly combined corridor, artificial hill, rocks, and water features.
Having buildings around a pond, the central garden is the oldest part. In the eastern garden, you will find the miniature mountain called Shi Ping Peak.
Furthermore, the garden also represents the manifestation of two UNESCO intangible world heritage called Pingtan and Guqin music.
Visit this beautiful Lingering Garden in spring to experience pleasant weather, vibrant trees, and lovely flowers. If you’re someone who can handle the crowd, you are good to go otherwise plan your visit on weekdays.
3. Climb Tiger Hill
Named after a legend, Tiger Hill is one of the oldest parts of Suzhou. Back in 496, when King Wu buried his father on top of the hill, a white tiger showed up to guard the tomb and hence named as Tiger Hill.
Tiger hill is also known as Surging sea hill which attracts thousands of visitors with a number of historical sites and its natural overwhelming beauty.
A beautiful scenic area, Tiger Hill reflects the beauty of ancient hill park, with tombs of ancient kings, Pagodas, temple, precious culture relics, and some amazing picture perfect landscape.
Additionally, there is the Octagonal Hill Pagoda (also called as Yunyan Pagoda) at the top of the hill which has a history of more than 1000 years. Besides, it is the landmark of Suzhou city as well.
Also, named as Leaning Tower of China, the Pagoda has seven floors with a total height of 47 meters. Furthermore, Suzhou’s largest Bonsai garden, Wanjing Villa is in Tiger hill which is a garden full of potted landscapes and ‘bonsai-style’ shrubs.
Besides, Tiger Hill Pagoda and Wanjing Villa, the other attractions are Sword Testing Stone, Sword Pool, Lu Yu well, and thousand Men Rock. Spring and fall are the best time to visit Tiger Hill because of pleasant weather, green trees, and blossoming flowers.
4. Suzhou Museum
Founded in 1960, in the former residence of the Zhang Prince of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, Suzhou Museum represents the ancient Chinese art, ancient Chinese paintings, calligraphies, and hand -made crafts.
The museum has over 15000 pieces of collections, 240 of which are grade one culture relics which includes Chinese paintings and calligraphies, porcelains, gold and silverware, jade wares, and precious stones. The building is designed by renowned architect IM Pei, which itself reflects an architectural work of art featuring a southern Chinese architectural style. Under China’s state protection, it is now listed as one of the most primary cultural relic units.
Furthermore, The museum is divided into three areas namely central, west, and the east area in which central area is the entrance, the main hall, and the garden, west area represents the main exhibition hall and the east area is the modern art gallery, the tea bar, and the administrative offices.
As it is very close to the Humble of Administrator’s Garden and Lion Grove Garden, Plan a trip in such a way that you can visit them together.
You can also check out Suzhou Museum official website before you make your trip there.
5. The Lion Grove
Build by a Buddhist monk in 1342, Lion Grove Garden is located in the northeast of Suzhou-a city. Back in the year 2000, it was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage and is one of the classical Chinese-style gardens of Suzhou.
The primary feature of the garden is its labyrinthine rock formation including those which looks like lions. The Lion Grove Garden is also known as “Kingdom of Rockery”.
Walk around this Rock garden and observe the man-made mountains, deep caves, rock formations, garden’s magnificent architecture, splendid waterfall, ancient trees, and many more.
Covering the area of 10,000 square meters, the garden has a two-story pavilion that gives an amazing viewpoint. Some of the other attractions are True delight pavilion (Zhenquting), Pavilion for Greeting the Plum Blossoms (Wenmeige), Standing-in-Snow Hall (Lixuetang), Small Square Hall (Xiaofangting), and Nine lion peak
6. Suzhou No.1 Silk Factory
Suzhou is popular in China for the production of silk for ages. It has always been the center of silk production for imperial families throughout the Ming and Qing Dynasty.
Built in 1962, the Silk factory gives you an opportunity to learn about the life cycle of the silkworm, how the silk is harvested from the cocoons and the woven into the fabric, the whole process.
The factory does not only give you a chance to see the silks are made but it is also a good place to learn the history and culture of silk in China.
Additionally, Suzhou silk factory is split into three parts namely the exhibition hall, the working spot, and the product exhibition hall. The exhibition hall allows you to learn about the history of Suzhou silk and some ancient collections.
The working spot gives you an opportunity to experience how the silkworm lays eggs in a different pod, how they soak the pods, the reeling, and the making of silk. The product exhibition hall represents the main products of the factory where you can buy as well.
The factory’s name is real, it’s called Suzhou No.1 Silk Factory. Check out more info about the factory here.
7. Take a Day Trip to Tongli Ancient Town
One of the most famous ancient towns, Tongli water town is located in the southeast if Suzhou. It is 1100-year-old town and it’s unique water town scenery is the picture perfect view for your Instagram.
Tongli represents the architecture and culture relics of the Ming and Qing dynasties. While roaming around the town, you will get to see temples, pavilions, and gardens which reflect the architecture of such dynasties.
While you’re in Tongli ancient town, don’t miss some of the major attractions such as Garden styles architectures namely Tulsi garden, whose half of its area is covered by water which gives an amazing view, Jiayin hall which has four courtyards with covered beans and painted rafters, Chongben Hall which is guarded by stone-paved riverbanks.
There are ancient bridges which represent the stories of the ancient town. Some of them are The Three Bridge, Siben Bridge, Pu’an Bridge, and Fuguan Bridge.
Lanes such as Cangchang lane which is nicknamed as “one person lane: allows one person to walk at a time. A day trip to Tongli Ancient Town is a perfect destination gateway to enjoy with your family.
8. Master of Nets G
Master of Nets Garden (Wang Shi Yuan in Chinese) is 900 years old and is one of the smallest gardens in Suzhou. Founded on the former site of a Song Dynasty official’s mansion, it is the most graceful landscape in Suzhou city.
The garden is beautifully decorated with plants, rock, pavilion, and stone bridges. It is also known as Fisherman’s garden.
The best time to visit the garden at night when the lights are lanterns up in the garden highlighting the pavilions, terrace, and corridor which makes the garden look lovely.
The various shows are performed such as Kunqu Opera (Suzhou Opera), folk singing & dancing, and instrumental playing.
Plan your trip from mid-March to mid-November to be a part of these awesome shows. Go here to learn more about this place.
9. Zhouzhuang Water Town
Zhouzhuang Water Town is the most popular, well -developed, commercialized ancient water town in China. It links Suzhou and Shanghai because of which it is the travel destination for both Suzhou and Shanghai tourists.
Explore this beautifully structured town by walking around or on a boat and mesmerize the beauty of the surroundings. Zhouzhuang town is 900 years old and most of the buildings were built in Ming and Qing dynasties and is well preserved till now.
Some of the major attractions here are The Twin Bridges, Fu’an Bridge, Zhenfeng Bridge, Shen’s House, Zhang’s House, Ye Chucang’s Residence.
10. Panmen Scenic Area
Nestled in the southwest of Suzhou, Panmen scenic area was built on the base of historic sites which represents the architectural structure of classic gardens. It primarily consists of 3 sceneries: Panmen gate, Wu-men Bridge, and Ruiguang Pagoda.
With a history of around 2500 years, Panmen gate is the popular historical landmark in Suzhou. The Pan Men Gate is a two-story red house-like building with a curved roof which was was built in 1986.
The Wu Men Bridge is the tallest one and was built in the Qing Dynasty period. Furthermore, the Ruiguang Pagoda is a seven-story building and is constructed of brick with wooden platforms.