Nicknamed "Venice of the East," Suzhou is a sophisticated city that has inspired generations of writers, artists and scholars. Shop here to purchase some of the embroidery and silk products the area is known for.
Over the past centuries, Suzhou's wealthy residents built the many classical gardens that you can still explore today. Most of Suzhou's gardens were built between the 16th and 18th centuries; nine of them are now designated as UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites. Notice that they were designed to be enjoyed by private families and their guests and are typically smaller and more intimate than the grand imperial gardens you see in other parts of the country.
Don’t miss the Humble Administrator's Garden, considered to be among the finest of the city’s many gardens. A characteristic example of Ming-period landscaping, the garden features many imaginative water elements.
Check out one of the enchanting evening performances that regularly take place at the Master of the Nets Garden. In addition to enjoying traditional dance, Chinese opera or instrumental music, admire the charming light display that illuminates the garden’s ponds and pavilions.
Stroll around the city’s Jinji Lake, which offers a crowd-pleasing mix of urban and natural scenery. You’ll find dozens of restaurants and shops, as well as lakefront paths ideal for cycling, jogging and walking.
Be sure to see the Pan Gate, the city’s only remaining original gate, which dates back to the 15th century. From the top of the gate, look for Wumen Bridge and the 11th-century Ruiguang Pagoda.
Plan to see the impressive Suzhou Museum, a fascinating work of contemporary architecture modeled after the city’s courtyards and gardens. Inside the museum, examine a fine display of paintings, jade, textiles and other cultural exhibits.
Suzhou is located less than 40 minutes away from Shanghai by high-speed train. Visit the city as a daytrip from Shanghai and stay until the evening to see the beguiling paper lanterns that illuminate the city’s canals.