Top 10 Attractions
With more than 400 attractions to choose from, planning your perfect Suzhou itinerary may leave you not knowing where to start. Ranging from breathtaking gardens and sacred pagodas to romantic water towns and world-class museums, this list will make building your ultimate Suzhou itinerary easy.
Humble Administrator’s Garden
Dating back to 1509, this famed garden — dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site and counted among China’s famous classical gardens — is the largest in Suzhou and is considered one of the greatest examples of quintessential Chinese landscape design. Walk atop interlacing bridges as they lead you to the garden’s romantic water features, famed relics and preserved pavilions. Savor tea at the garden’s teahouse and be sure to stop by the museum for more history.
Location: Gusu District — 178 Dongbei Street, Suzhou
Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Mar. 1–Nov. 15) / 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Nov. 16–Feb. 29)
Admission: ¥70 (Jan.–Mar., June, Nov.–Dec.) / ¥90 (Apr.–May, July–Oct.)
Built in 1593 and famous for its stunning architecture, Lingering Garden is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and spans an area of almost nine square miles (23.31 sq km). Separated into four distinct themed sections — East, West, Central and North — each area serves a unique purpose and can be explored by way of a connecting corridor bedecked in ancient inlaid calligraphy.
Location: Gusu District — 338 Liuyuan Road, Suzhou
Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: ¥45 (Jan.–March, June, Nov.–Dec.) / ¥55 (April–May, July–Oct.)
Master of the Nets Garden
It may be the smallest of Suzhou’s Classical Gardens, but Master of the Nets Garden packs a grand punch. This 12th century gem (later refurbished in the 18th century) and UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts an impressive garden and nightly Kunqu opera performances, but it’s best known for its architectural splendor. An elaborate labyrinth of rooms leads to windows and gateways that perfectly frame the courtyards and gardens beyond, creating the illusion of a space that appears much larger than it actually is. If it looks familiar, it’s because it is — Ming Hall Garden at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is modeled after Master of the Nets Garden.
Location: Gusu District — No 1, Kuo JIa Tou Lane, Suzhou
Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Apr. 16–Oct. 30) / 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Oct. 31–Apr. 15) / 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Mid-Mar.–Mid-Nov.)
Admission: ¥30 (Jan.–Mar., June, Nov.–Dec.) / ¥40 (Apr.–May, July–Oct.) / ¥100 night tour (Mid-Mar.–Mid-Nov.).
Lion Grove Garden
Renowned for its multi-story rock maze that rises nearly 23 feet (7 m) into the air, it’s also one of nine Suzhou gardens that bear UNESCO World Heritage Site prestige. Stare in awe at the garden’s famed manmade mountains, comprised of deep caves and whimsical rock formations made from limestone found in nearby Taihu Lake. Observe the garden’s dazzling architecture and learn about each pavilion’s backstory. Don’t miss the majestic waterfall and ancient trees that also dot the grounds.
Location: Gusu District — 23 Yuanlin Road, Suzhou
Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (March 1 to October 15) / 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (October 16 - End of February)
Admission: ¥30 (Oct. 31–Apr. 15) / ¥40 (Apr. 16–Oct .30)
According to legend, in 496 B.C., three days after the King of Wu buried his father atop this hill, a white tiger appeared and guarded the tomb. Drenched in history and folklore, the ancient poet Su Dongpo about this popular attraction, “to visit Suzhou and not see Tiger Hill would lead to a lifetime of regret.” Upon approach, it’s hard to miss the cultural symbol of Suzhou, the Yunyan Pagoda (also called Huqiu Tower) — the park’s soaring, thousand-year-old pagoda famous for its menacing lean. After you’re done looking up, turn your eyes down towards to the Sword Pool, believed to be the king’s final resting place… for his swords. It only takes one visit to Tiger Hill to realize what Su Dongpo was talking about.
Location: Gusu District — 585 Huqiu Hill, Suzhou
Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Admission: ¥60 (January - March, June, November - December) / ¥80 (April, May, July - October)
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a trip to quintessential Suzhou countryside — its water towns. Living up to the nickname “Venice of the East,” Suzhou’s water towns are some of the oldest and most charming in the world. Zhouzhuang, located in Kunshan City along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and Taihu Lake, is as enchanting as a fairytale. From its impeccably preserved residential architecture and stone bridges to its winding canals and colored traditions, Zhouzhuang does not disappoint.
Location: Kunshan City, Suzhou
Hours: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Admission: ¥100 (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.) / ¥80 (4 – 9 p.m.)
Another top draw destination is the ancient water town of Tongli. Located in the Wujiang District along Taihu Lake, this thousand-year-old town boasts sacred bridges — the most famous being Taiping (peace), Jili (luck) and Changing (celebration) — plus hundreds of gardens, temples and mansions. Whether you’re visiting Zhouzhuang or Tongli (or both), the best way to experience Suzhou’s water towns is by way of a seafaring gondola.
Location: Wujiang District — No. 1 South Zhongshan Road, Suzhou
Hours: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Admission: ¥100 (day) / ¥50 (evening)
One of the ten great temples in China, Hanshan Temple’s current structure dates back to the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), but its original architecture can be traced as far back as the Southern dynasty (502–557). With more than 1,500 years of history under its roof, Hanshan Temple — or Cold Mountain Temple as it translates — is an absolute must-see on the tourism circuit. Originally made famous by the poem “Mooring for the Night at Fengqiao Bridge,” the Buddhist monastery’s 108-bell-ringing ceremony has become an annual New Year’s Eve tradition for locals and visitors alike. If you happen to visit on a non-holiday, make your way to the top — the pagoda offers some of the best views of the city.
Location: Gusu District — No. 24, Hanshan Temple Alley, Fengqiao, Suzhou
Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
What better way to absorb more than 2,500 years of history than with a visit to one of Suzhou’s fascinating museums. Due in part to Suzhou’s pristine preservation of its culture and heritage, Suzhou’s museums are both enriching and abundant. A longstanding history of silk production remains an integral thread in Suzhou’s cultural fabric. Guests of the Suzhou Silk Museum can experience the silk lifecycle by watching the artisans hard at work, beginning with harvesting the silk (from silkworm to cocoons), before moving on to preparing the silk and finally spinning the thread.
Location: Gusu District — No. 2001, Renmin Road, Suzhou
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Built in 2006 by famed local architect I.M. Pei, the Suzhou Museum is the city’s largest museum, showcasing a vast majority of the area’s breathtaking culture. Satisfying art and architecture buffs alike, the Suzhou Museum’s design was inspired by the region’s Classical Gardens with water and bamboo elements sprinkled throughout. Its galleries host a collection of more than 15,000 pieces, from ancient paintings and ornate calligraphy to porcelain crafts and unearthed relics.
Location: Gusu District — No. 204 Dongbei Street, Suzhou
Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (closed Mondays)
Admission: Free (¥100 for a docent-led tour in English or ¥30 for an audio tour)
Sightseeing Along Suzhou’s Historic Streets
Set out on foot (or bike) to discover Suzhou’s storied landmarks and hidden gems. For a trip back in time, head to Shantang Street, famous for its old temples, ancestral halls and memorial arches. For an even richer blast to the past, stroll along Shiquan Street to discover architecture from the Ming and Qing dynastiesy, as well as the popular Nanlin Restaurant and Hotel and the commanding Master of the Nets Garden. Sample dumplings and confections on Guanqian Street, or enjoy Suzhou’s most delicious export at a local teahouse along Pingjiang Street. Along the way, be sure to admire the narrow canal, stone bridges and charming, whitewashed homes. Modern shoppers rejoice — Jinchang District’s Shilu Shopping Street provides a bevy of retail and department store goodies, and the shops even stay open until 10 p.m. Whether you’re exploring the city’s deep-rooted history or you’re in need of a major shopping fix, Suzhou’s streets are the place to go.
Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP)
Suzhou Industrial Park — or SIP — is the epicenter of modern-day Suzhou. Boasting hundreds of contemporary hotels, shops and restaurants, SIP is also home to several modern marvels, including Jinji Lake, the largest inland city lake in China, the Suzhou International Expo Center, two manmade islands (Peach Blossom Island and Exquisite Island), the largest Ferris wheel in Asia and a musical fountain and water curtain that doubles as a movie screen — the largest waterscape engineering feat in eastern China. If you happen to be in town on Friday or Saturday, don’t miss the 30-minute-long show that begins at 8 p.m.
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From sprawling modern cities like Shanghai, to small water towns like Suzhou, China captivates visitors. This tour includes the eternal watch of the terracotta warriors in Xi'an, the allure of the Forbidden City, and all of China's intriguing destinations.
12 Night: Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Guilin, Guangzhuo, Hong Kong 13 Days
Beijing, the capital of China, it served as the capital for 5 dynasties over a period of 800 years with each emperor identified as a dragon sent from heaven. Tour Tiananmen Square (the Gate of Heavenly Peace) , the largest square in the world, and also known as a witness for many historical and contemporary events. Visit the Palace Museum, more commonly known as the Forbidden City, until recently opened only to the emperor's family. This complex, the largest imperial palace ever built in the world, features more than 800 buildings with over 9,000 rooms, resplendent golden- glazed roofs, red lacquered pillars and vermilion walls. See the high-walled "Inner City" with its government buildings. After lunch, we tour the Summer Palace, built in classical Chinese style in 1750 as a royal recreational resort. Among its famous features are the 700-meter-long corridor with its wonderful Painted Gallery, the Marble Barge, and several magnificently painted pavilions and pagodas. On our way back to the city, we’ll make a photo stop at the National Grand Theatre- “Dome” and Qianmen Street. Enjoy roast Beijing duck in dinner. After dinner, you will enjoy an acrobatics performance.
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Popular choice for most first time visitors to see the Great Wall in Beijing, Terracotta Warriors in Xian, modern Shanghai and beautiful gardens of Suzhou.
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."