Transportation in the City
Despite its old-world charm and historic eminence, Suzhou is one of the most developed cities in all of China. Modern transportation systems have been implemented to support tourists and locals alike. Here are some fast and easy ways to get around Suzhou.
Traveling by train can be a quick and effective way to get from point A to point B in no time. Suzhou Rail Transit (SRT) provides two metro lines ideal for visiting local attractions, while Suzhou’s four main transit stations provide connections to major cities, including Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing.
Metro — Use Metro lines 1 and 2 for traveling within Suzhou. Metro lines 3, 4 and 5 are under construction and are expected to be completed between 2015 and 2020. Depending on the distance, ticket prices range from ¥2 to ¥6.
Suzhou Rail Transit — Line 1
Direction: Runs east-west from Mudu Station (western Suzhou) to Zhongnan Jie Station (Suzhou Industrial Park/SIP)
Local Stops: Suzhou Amusement Land, Suzhou International Expo Center in Suzhou Industrial Park/SIP
Number of Stations: 24
Suzhou Rail Transit — Line 2
Direction: Runs north-south from Suzhou North Railway Station (north Xiangcheng District) to Baodaiqiao South Station (Wuzhong District)
Local Stops: Suzhou Railway Station, Suzhou North Railway Station
Number of Stations: 22
Intercity Stations — Suzhou’s four conveniently located train stations are ideal for day trips and best used for city-to-city travel. Although some lines make local stops within Suzhou, many trains provide high-speed service perfect for quick connections to neighboring cities. Fares vary for each destination, and visitors must purchase their tickets from the railway station counter or through ticket offices throughout the city.
Travel Tip — If traveling during a Chinese holiday or festival, purchase your ticket well in advance.
Suzhou Railway Station
Line: Shanghai–Nanjing Main Line
Location: 27 Chezhan Road, Gusu, Suzhou (Gusu District)
Suzhou North Railway Station
Line: Beijing-Shanghai (Jinghu) High-Speed Railway
Location: Fulin Road, Xiangcheng District (northwest Suzhou)
Suzhou Yuanqu (Industrial Park) Railway Station
Line: Nanjing–Shanghai Main Line
Location: Zhihe West Road, Suzhou Industrial Park
Suzhou Xinqu (New Distict) Railway Station
Line: On the Nanjing–Shanghai Main Line, but used for high-speed trains to/from Beijing only
Location: Hushuguan Town, Suzhou New Zone 215004
Suzhou buses are both convenient and affordable. Clearly labeled with a “Y” for tourist routes, most fares are as little as ¥2 and can take you to all of Suzhou’s most popular attractions. All mentioned buses depart from the Suzhou Railway Station (27 Chezhan Road, Gusu).
Travel Tip — Be sure to have exact change before hopping aboard, and know that bus route information is printed in Chinese (not English).
Bus Route Y1
Runs the length of Renmin Lu
Time: 5:15 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Attractions: Liuyuan Garden, Shizilin Garden, Zhuozhengyuan Garden, Suzhou Museum, Beita Temple
Bus Route Y2
Runs along Shi Quan Jie from Tiger Hill to Panmen Gate
Time: 5:45 a.m. – 6:45 p.m.
Attractions: Shizilin Garden, Zhuozhengyuan Garden, Suzhou Museum, Wangshiyuan Garden, Panmen Scenic Area; Tang Yin’s former residence
Bus Route Y3
Runs from Suzhou Railway Station to Golden Hill Gas Factory
Time: 5:05 a.m. – 8:45 p.m.
Attractions: Suzhou Train Station, Suzhou Amusement Park
Bus Route Y4
Runs the length of Renmin Lu
Time: 5 a.m. – 9:10 p.m.
Attractions: Silk Museum, Beisi Pagoda, Yiyuan Garden, Canglang Pavilion, Tang Yin’s former residence
Bus Route Y5
Runs along the western and eastern edges of Suzhou
Time: 6 a.m. – 10:15 p.m.
Attractions: Suzhou Train Station, Shizilin Garden, Zhuozhengyuan Garden, Suzhou Museum, Panmen Scenic Area
With a fleet of more than 4,000 cabs, taxis are a common way to get around Suzhou. Similar to the U.S. and Canada, cabs can sometimes be hard to hail during peak travel time, rain-soaked weather and on holidays. A taxi is available if you see the illuminated Chinese characters “空车” or the dash light is illuminated in green.
Fares are inexpensive, starting at just ¥10. Using meters, rates increase based on the total mileage/kilometers, time of day and traffic.
Travel Tip — Know your destination’s address. Many drivers don’t speak English, so write down the address (in Chinese) and hand it to the driver.
A favorite among visitors and locals alike, cycling through Suzhou is both a scenic and speedy mode of transportation. Avoid busy thoroughfares and ride along charming back roads, winding canals and budding gardens.
Rent a bike from a local shop for roughly ¥25 per day. Or, if you’re staying at a hostel in Suzhou, ask the concierge if they have any bikes for rent.
Travel Tip — Check your seat, brakes and tires before touring the historic city of Suzhou.
See the same sights as a cyclist without ever putting foot on a pedal. Pedicabs are perfect for travelers who want to see the sights — they are even small enough to travel down Suzhou’s historic, narrow streets.
Pedicabs are a great alternative to taxis — and are often less expensive, starting at just ¥5. Due to summer heat, rates in warm-weather months tend to be higher.
Travel Tip — Negotiate and confirm the price before hopping in; drivers have been known to price-gouge after the trip concludes.
Featured Tour Packages
13-Days : Panda Experience
For a rich blast to the past, stroll along Shiquan Street to discover architecture from the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as the commanding Master of the Nets Garden.
5 Night: Art themed journey to Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hong Kong
Celebrate China's contemporary art and architecture scene while also taking in some of the country's historic sites and landmarks. Explore Shanghai and Suzhou, and in Hong Kong spend an afternoon at Art Basel Hong Kong, Asia's premier showcase for contemporary art. Begin in Shanghai to discuss textiles with a fashion designer, tour the Propaganda Poster Art Museum, and visit the galleries of the energetic M50 arts district. Learn about China's colonial history on a walking tour of the former French Concession. In nearby Suzhou, see some of its classic gardens and explore the city's I.M. Pei-designed museum. Fly to bustling Hong Kong, where highlights include a ride on an iconic Chinese junk boat at twilight. Discover the city's landmarks and contemporary collections, experience the annual Art Basel fair, and enjoy lunch in a private club, followed by a special viewing at Christie's Hong Kong.
9 Night: Uncover Chinese Culture Through Expansive Artistic Venues
China’s mystical heritage is transposed into handcrafted sculptures, digital masterpieces, graphic design and aesthetic paintings – resulting in unrivaled creations. Amid the 1.3 billion people, you will encounter quiet spaces brimming with carefully constructed artwork throughout all four stops of your adventure across China. In Beijing, you will find a synchronized balance between hushed viewings and popular, must-see attractions; in Suzhou, you will be enveloped by breathtaking scenery, which is highlighted by lush garden beds and the stream stretching through middle of the city; in Shenzhen – the urban hub for shoppers and extravagant restaurants – you will be enraptured by its futuristic modern style and architecture; and in Taipei you will find that its contemporary, yet peculiar interpretations will perfectly tie together your exploration through China’s finest artistic venues.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 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.
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."