Top Tips for Capturing Photos in Suzhou #SeenInSuzhou

Dubbed “Venice of the East” by Marco Polo, Suzhou’s elegant canals, picturesque water towns, UNESCO-designated classical gardens, and traditional Chinese architecture sets the scene for a photographer’s paradise.

Steeped in history, the city’s 2,500 year-old past invites shutterbugs to capture its unrivaled cultural experiences, must-visit tourism attractions, and local customs through a unique lens, capturing moments in time that will remind travelers of their visit to Suzhou for years to come.

A number of travel photographers who have visited Suzhou in recent years have plenty of tips to share for travelers seeking the perfect shot:

Connect with Culture

Kun Opera captured by Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbeil, The Planet D
“The culture and experiences are so different from what you’d expect. Keep an open mind and try new things. I never thought I’d find something to photograph when going to an opera, but it ended up being one of the most fascinating experiences we had in Suzhou, and we came away with great shots.” – Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbeil, The Planet D
Having a camera opens so many doors. In my case, it opened up gardens, teahouses, and silk factories. We were able to go behind the scenes, meet those who are continuing Suzhou’s ancient tradition in the modern world and speak with so many locals through on-camera interviews.” – Kelley Ferro, On-air Travel Expert & Filmmaker

“Taking photos in Suzhou allowed me to dive deeper into the local culture. I was able to learn more about its rich history with textiles, gardening, craftsmanship, and more, all from behind a lens.” – Stacey Leasca, Freelance Journalist & Professor

Set the Scene

“Try to truly feel the destination and what is happening around you. It will help you freeze the moments in time more beautifully by paying attention to the little things that happen in the daily life of the locals in Suzhou. ” – Nastasia Yakoub, Founder of Dame Traveler

“Have your camera ready at all times. You never know what you may find around the next corner. I enjoyed capturing hidden moments, the joy of tasting local foods, and finding something new. It’s a very different culture from my own, so it was wonderful to capture moments of learning which is the true essence of travel.” – Stacey Leasca

“I find that photography brings people together. Locals are interested in looking at the photos we are taking, and local photographers are interested in chatting about gear and locations. When shooting sunset at the Chaozong Pavilion, a local photographer set up his tripod beside mine and we compared photos.” – Dave and Deb

Tell a Story and Transport Your Audience

“A good photograph immediately transports the viewer right to that destination, making them feel like they are there in that moment.” – Nastasia Yakoub
Tongli Water Town Photo: Nastasia Yakoub, Dame Traveler
 
Panmen Gate Park Photo: Matt Payne Travel Photography

“To me, a good photo is one that tells a story. I think of it in three parts. You need nice light - mornings and evenings, a beautiful setting, and most importantly, something happening in that setting. I went to Panman Gate Park to take a photo with the morning light. There, the pagodas and the ponds certainly created a sense of place, but when the morning sun seemed to land on a couple joyfully slow-dancing under one of the park’s pavilions, I knew I had the shot I wanted.” – Matt Payne

Canals along Shantang Street

Photo: Stacey Leasca

“What makes a good travel photograph is one that captures the spirit of a destination. It doesn’t have to be perfectly composed or taken on a fancy camera. Instead, a great travel photo is one you can simply look at and understand a place just through this one visual.” – Stacey Leasca

These photography tips are part of the recently launched #SeenInSuzhou campaign designed to showcase Suzhou’s culture, heritage, and tourism experiences through visual activations. Travelers can follow the campaign and related events via Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter (@VisitSuzhou) and share their photos using the campaign hashtag #SeenInSuzhou and destination hashtag #TravelSuzhou for the chance to be featured on the our Instagram stories.

For more beautiful photography, follow each of our experts on Instagram:

Nastasia Yakoub

Stacey Leasca

ThePlanetD

Matt Payne

Kelley Ferro

Featured Tour Packages

Eastern China Explorer

Eastern China Explorer

"Explore the natural wonders, historic monuments, cultural heritage, and culinary delights"

Book it
China Sampler

China Sampler

Explore other facets of Suzhou’s ancient history as you stroll along Pingjiang Road, graced with fine examples of Song Dynasty architecture. Then experience a popular Chinese pastime as you join city residents to fly a kite at the historic Panmen Gate. Learn how silk is made at a local workshop before traveling to Shanghai where you’ll check in to the landmark Fairmont Peace Hotel. Meals B+L.

Book it
Oriental Express

Oriental Express

An Epic itinerary covers all you mast sees in mainland China. In Beijing, explore imperial treasures like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. Visit the necropolis at Xian, where you encounter thousands of Terra Cotta Warriors. Explore cosmopolitan Shanghai and surrounding cities.And a 4 days 3 nights Yangtze River cruise to see China’s mother river

Book it

Expert Tips:

Suzhou, China

Humble Administrator’s Garden is one of China’s finest, the centerpiece of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that comprises nine classical Suzhou gardens. Visitors during spring and summer may attend the azalea or lotus festival. Adjacent, the Suzhou Museum is the latest masterpiece of China’s most famous architect, I.M. Pei. For transportation, take tourist buses No.1, 2 or 5.

Suzhou, China

Traveling with children? Don't miss the Suzhou Amusement Park at Junji Lake with zipline ride, a dancing water fountain show on weekends and one of the world's tallest Ferris Wheels. The 60 cabins carrying a total of 300 passengers take 20 minutes per rotation, providing great views of the lake and the Suzhou skyline.

Suzhou, China

Currency in Suzhou, and throughout China, is abbreviated as CNY for Chinese Yen or as RMB for Renminbi. Along with 13 other major currencies, US dollars can be exchanged at all the outlets of the state banks of China at the same rate. Bring a passport to make any transaction.

Suzhou, China

Known as the "Silk Capital of the World", those keen to see silkworms in action can be guided through the process from mulberry leaves to finished product at Suzhou No. 1 Silk Mill. The region's temperate, subtropical zone that's ideal for deciduous mulberry trees has supported 5,000 years of silk cultivation.

Suzhou, China

Picturesque canals, stone bridges, temples, gardens and pagodas make the ancient city of Suzhou one of China's top tourism destinations. Calligraphy carved onto Tiger Hill rocks indicate that it has attracted visitors for thousands of years. A Song Dynasty poet, Su Shi, said, "It is a lifelong pity if having visited Suzhou you did not visit Tiger Hill."

Suzhou, China

In Suzhou, the regional Chinese language is called Wu, the subgroup is called Taihu, and the local dialect, one of nine, is known as Suzhounese, considered one of the most elegant, flowing in all of China. Most people are bilingual in Mandarin used in schools, because Suzhounese is not mutually intelligible with either Mandarin or Cantonese.

Suzhou, China

Atop Tiger Hill, the Yunyan Pagoda, nicknamed the Leaning Tower of China, stands as a symbol of Suzhou. Completed during the Song Dynasty in the year 961, the 1,000-year-old pagoda is taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa and has become a symbol of Suzhou. The 3-degree tilt means that since 2010, visitors are no longer permitted entry.

Suzhou, China

Visit an authentic Buddhist monastery and temple just 3 miles west Suzhou old town. The temple has been well-known since the Tang Dynasty of the 7th and 8th centuries. Take bus No. 3, 6, 9, 17, 21, 31, 301 or Y3 and get off at Fengqaio Station.

Suzhou, China

Suzhou Railway Station, one of China's busiest, dates back to 1906. Now throughly modernized, the fast train connection with a design speed of 217 miles per hour covers the 52 miles to Shanghai in a journey of only a 24 minutes.

Suzhou, China

One of the best ways to tour the "Venice of the East" is from a front row seat on a hand-steered canal boat. Afterwards, stop into 130-year-old Pin Von Teahouse for exotic teas served in private booths on the second floor. It overlooks Pingjiang Lu, an 800-year-old lively pedestrian street, one of China's "National Historic and Cultural Streets."