Suzhou Travel Guide
Suzhou – A beautiful city in the southeast of China that is considered as the paradise on the earth. A major tourist city in China that features classic gardens and elegant natural scenery. An ancient city that has the history of 2500 years with the unique characteristics of the past. A modern city that has a well-developed communication network and can be easily reached from all parts of China.
Featuring beautiful landscapes and elegant gardens, Suzhou enjoys the reputation as 'The City of Gardens', 'Oriental Venice' and 'The Land of Silk'. The tour of Suzhou will allow you to fully appreciate the ever-lasting charm of Suzhou garden art and love the beautiful sceneries of the Grand Canal and the old water town of Tongli and Zhouzhuang. Furthermore, enjoying the evening performances and shopping the local products like embroideries, fansfans, brocades and etc. In Suzhou will surely make your stay in Suzhou even more perfect.
As the saying goes - '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 high reputation not only for their vast numbers, but also for their charming natural beauty and harmonious construction. At present more than 60 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.
It is a large hillock, standing 36 meters high and covering an area of some 14,100 square meters. It was where the King of the State of Wu( a small state in the Spring and Autumn Periods over thousands of years ago) Fu Chai, buried his father-Helu along with 3,000 swords. Legend has it that on the third day after the burial, a white tiger appeared to guard the tomb, hence the name of the hill.Going up to the hill, you will find a number of historical sites, including some from 2,500 years ago, which are as old ad the city of Suzhou.
The Garden of the Master of Nets
It is the smallest garden in Suzhou covering a space of only 5000 sq meters, The small space is its greatest charm as it encompasses all the elements of a classic Chinese garden within close boundaries. The present garden was founded on the former site of a Song dynasty official's mansion. Its owner, an early Qing-dynasty official Song Zongyuan, gave its present name based on the earlier one, "Fisherman's Retreat".
Humble Administrator’s Garden:
The garden is the best representative of Chinese classical gardens, constructed in the Ming dynasty, which focuses on a central pond with pavilions, terraces, chambers, and towers located nearby, the garden is divided into three parts: the eastern, middle and western parts.
Right on the Grand Canal, the Hanshan Temple has become the city's most important landmark. The temple was first built between the year of 502 and 519. It was named after Han Shan, a Tang-dynasty monk who lived there. Through the years, the temple had undergone several rounds of destruction and restoration. The existing one is a late-Qing architecture work.
The temple has been immortalized by the famous poem Anchorage by the Maple Bridge written by the prominent Tang Dynasty poet, Zhangji. Zhang's poem reads" The moon is down, the raven calls, the cold frost fills the sky; Off near the Gusu Town( Suzhou) as midnight passes by. The chiming of a temple bell comes to my boat tonight".
Zhouzhuang , located at the middle between Shanghai and Suzhou, is an ancient town of Kunshan City, Jiangsu Province, where abounds with rivers and lakes. So it is thought by many to be the best waterside town in China.This ancient town has a history of more than 900 years old with many houses built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. There are about 100 houses with courtyards, and 60 of them have arch gateways made by carved bricks.
Tongli – a small water town located a short driving distance from Suzhou, has a history of more than one thousand years. There are over hundreds of gardens established in Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty, temples, cartilages and former residence of eminent souls. Fifteen rivers divides the town into seven island and 49 sets of historic bridges connect the town as a whole.
Called Jiangsu cuisine for short, Jiangsu-style cuisine is mainly composed of local dishes of Nanjing, Suzhou, Huaian, Xuzhou and Haizhou. Jiangsu cuisine is good at braising, stewing, steaming and frying, pays more attention to making soups, preserve the natural juice, which keeps the flavor fresh, thick but not greasy, light but not thin, loosen and boneless but not loosing the shape, and smooth and tender but not loosing the taste. The characteristic of Jiangsu Cuisine is: adopting materials in a wide range while taking delicacies of rivers, lakes and seas as the main; with fine cutting skills and various cooking methods while being good at braising, stewing, simmering and coddling; pursuing the natural taste which is fresh, mild and adaptable; and the dish style is refined and pretty with nice shape and good quality.
Suzhou has a concentration of over 2,000 kinds of goods featuring local flavor, such as Su embroidery, mandarin coats, pure silk clothing, carvings, carpet and tapestry. Anyway, Suzhou provides tourists with various kinds of souvenirs according to their different requirements.
Suzhou embroidery, multi-colored and gorgeous, is regarded as a pearl of Chinese art. The vivid descriptions of animals, people, landscapes and flowers are popular themes of Su embroidery. Contemporary embroidery in Suzhou is blended with fashionable elements, yielding a unique style of embroidery that is popular all over the world.
Suzhou jade carvings are well-known for their exquisite workmanship. There are two types: plain or three dimensional. The designs are made based on the different shapes of materials and fine carvings are done with appropriate skills.
Besides the function of cooling people down, Suzhou fan has another function of giving people a chance to appreciate the great charm of traditional Chinese culture. Well known for its long history and refining craftsmanship, Suzhou fan is a kind of folding fan which attracts many experts to write poems and draw pictures on it. The "Old Fan Face", well-known for its fine, strong, even and endurable quality, is the best among all the Suzhou fans. The area of Peach Blossom Shipyard of Changmen has been the centralized place for Suzhou fan ever since.
Biluochun green tea is well-known for its smooth shape, fresh color, fragrant aroma and mellow taste. The best Biluochun tea leaves are usually picked during March and April.
Suzhou is not only an ancient city of thousands of years' history, but also an open modernized metropolis, so that it boasts a great varieties of traditional and modern entertainment options for different tourists. Suzhou is rich in cultural heritage, Musical performances and Kun Opera (a form of traditional Chinese opera) are popular among tourists from around the world. Folk music and dancing and six other artistic performances will provide lasting memories of Suzhou City.
Cruise on the Grand Canal
Over 20 historical attractions of Suzhou are united by it, making for an exquisite night tour in the evening, you can enjoy the lights from the ancient city walls, Couple’s Garden, and Baodai Bride. Though day time tours are lovely, colors and lights of night tours are incomparable. The trip circumnavigates the entire ancient city and will take about 60 minutes.
Night Tour at Master-of- Net Garden
Every year from middle of March to middle of November, there are 8 night shows from 19:30 to 22:00. Each program will last for about 10 minutes and the guests can enjoy the shows whenever they join in.
When the night falls, with yellowy clearance lights and scarlet palace lanterns outlining the pavilions and platforms along the river, grace and elegancy can be found everywhere in this River South garden. Actors and actress in ancient theatrical costumes of generous local styles play Ping Tan, Kun Qu, Di Xiao, Chinese zither, folk music and folk dancing for the guests in the halls or pavilions, representing a fantastic scene of "One show in one hall, shows changing while guests changing".
Cruise tour on Jinji Lake
Jin Ji Lake is a fairly modern area in Suzhou. Ten years ago, the lake was surrounded by farmland and fishermen. The area around the lake has now been developed with business areas, beautiful parks, residence areas, and a 9 mile walkway around the entire lake. The Lake is inside of the Suzhou Industrial Park or SIP, which was developed with the help of Singapore.
In addition to jujitsu, silk hanging, driving skills, climbing pole, circle, such as breathtaking programs, the death round will bring the audience a great visual and psychological impact.
Kunqu, also known as Kunju, Kun opera or Kunqu Opera, is one of the oldest extant forms of Chinese opera. It evolved from the Kunshan melody, and dominated Chinese theatre from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Kunqu originated in the Wu cultural area.
Kunqu boasts a 600-year history and is known as the "teacher" or "mother" of a hundred operas, because of its influence on other Chinese theatre forms, including Jingju (Peking Opera). Its emergence ushered in the second Golden Era of Chinese drama, but by the early twentieth century it had nearly disappeared, which was only exacerbated by deliberate attempts to suppress it during the Cultural Revolution. Today, Kunqu is performed professionally only in Beijing, Nanjing, Suzhou and other 4 cities in China.
Being an important historical and tourist city in China, Suzhou is easily accessible by air, railway and highway. Since It’s located along the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal ,the city also very much related with a good waterway transportation.
Since Suzhou is not served by a civil airport, most tourists who come to Suzhou often fly to Shanghai , and then take a bus or train to Suzhou. There are regular bus services from Shanghai to Suzhou ( approximately 1 hour driving time ). In addition, there are plenty of trains running between Suzhou and Shanghai. Airport shuttle bus service is also available. It runs every one hour either from Sahnghai Hongqiao ( Rainbow ) Airport or Shanghai Pudong Airport to the city center of Suzhou.
Suzhou is a major railway stop in the southeast of China, and there are more than 40 daily trains that stop at Suzhou Railway Station. Since the high speed train commenced in 2010, it becomes much quicker and easier travelling between Shanghai and Suzhou. When you fly into Shanghai Hongqiao (Rainbow) Airport, you can simply connect the high speed train service without going out of the airport. The train fare is around RMB45.00.
Taxis are convenient and are generally a hassle-free alternative to public transportation. There are lots of taxis looping the city so there is usually no problem to flag one down to stop for you. The starting price is 10 Yuan for 3 km, and 1.8 Yuan/per km for over 3 km,
Being an important tourist city, Suzhou has a complete public transportation.service. Public bus routes run into all parts of the city. Fares are flat rated, usually 1 Yuan for a non-air-conditioned bus and 2 Yuan for an air-conditioned one. There is no fare collector on the bus, so please ensure that you have small denominations of change ready for the driver when boarding.
High Speed Train Schedule ( Sahnghai Hongqiao Train Station )
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