Suzhou China – Top-10 Tourist Attractions and Things to Do
Suzhou is a stunningly beautiful water town located just west of Shanghai. It’s considered by many Chinese as “heaven on Earth”. In the past the city was always associated with the pursuits of the upper class- their legacy can be seen profoundly through the historical attractions the city has to offer. However, Suzhou’s main attractions are it’s tranquil gardens and riverways. What you’ll get is ancient pagodas and temples found within the serene setting of parks, gardens and waterways.
We’ve found the top ten tourist attractions and activities in the city that we know you’ll love!
1. Panmen Scenic Area
This scenic area encompasses several different cultural and natural attractions. Here you can see the historic landmarks and architectural wonders left behind by ancient Chinese people. Amongst the highlights the resort has to offer are the Ruigang Pagoda, the Panmen scenic gate and Wumen Bridge.
Ruigang pagoda is the oldest in Suzhou and is rumoured to be crafted in the year 247 by Sun Quan. The pagoda sits at over 50 meters tall, and is made using timber.
Panmen gate is at the heart of the attraction, and it’s an important landmark because it’s considered to be the only the only preserved water and city gate in the world. The gate had significance for the army in it’s early days, and a sluice can still be opened and shut. On the top of the gate is the city tower, and you can also see numerous ancient weapons.
Wumen Bridge is the highest in Suzhou, and it’s definitely a must-see.
7:00 am- 5 pm
2. Pingjiang Lu
Take some cash to buy food and drinks
Although many waterways in the city have been removed to make way for roads, Pingjiang Lu gives visitors a glimpse into a Suzhou of the past. You’ll see white houses, and a tree lined stream slowly meandering through the peaceful setting. Many of the ancient houses have been converted into restaurants and cafes, so these are a great place to stop and refuel.
It’s also a great place to do some shopping- pick up a souvenir from one of the vendors, and try out some tasty street food.
3. Garden of the Master of the Nets
This cosy, historical garden is one of Suzhou’s finest. The home belonged to a retired government official who became a fisherman. Through the clever architectural design, the area appears to be far greater than it actually is.
Central in the attraction, is the main garden. Off to the West you’ll find a courtyard inside the walls, and an inner garden where you can see the owner’s study.
7:30 am – 5 pm
4. The Humble Administrator’s Garden
90 RMB, 70 RMB for an audio guide
Widely considered to be the best (and largest) of Suzhou’s gardens, this attraction is one of Suzhou’s must-see gardens. The area is over 5 hectares big, and within it’s walls you can find a museum, and a teahouse.
We loved the beautiful surroundings, too. You’ll see ponds, bamboo plants, and arch bridges. There are over ten pavilions.
7:30 am- 5:30 pm
5. Suzhou Silk Museum
During the Tang dynasty Suzhou was the silk- producing capital of China, and this attraction serves to commemorate that. Much of the silk donned by ancient royal families was made by weavers in Suzhou.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of the museum’s décor is white. The architectural design is a unique blend of old and modern.
As you enter the gates, you’ll see three pretty white marble statues, one of a girl picking mulberries (the silkworm’s favourite food). Various halls and murals depict the history of silk in the city, and there’s also various shops if you want to buy some silk for yourself!
Tuesday to Sunday: 9 am – 5 pm
6. Tongli Ancient Town
One of the areas most famous water towns, Tongli is only ten km from Suzhou. It’s massive- over 50 square kilometres. The town has 15 rivers that flow through it, and a total of 49 majestic ancient stone bridges connecting the land.
With a history over 1000 years, the town has massive cultural significance. The highlights of the town are all the traditional residences, houses and temples that can be found throughout.
Other highlights include the Three Bridges: the most famous trio of Suzhou’s bridges, their architecture is held sacred by the locals.
Make sure you visit the Retreat & Reflection Garden. Throughout the garden you will see pavilions, towers and terraces and a man-made lake. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Scenic spots open at 7:30 am- 5:30 pm.
7. Tiger Hill
This is a must-see attraction in Suzhou. It’s a large tourist area with a number of different attractions spanning over 3 acres, many dating back to over 2500 years ago. Of all the sights, these are the ones you shouldn’t miss.
The Tomb of King He Lu
During a war in 496 BC, the famous king of the Wu clan was killed. He was buried on the hill by his son, and three days after this it’s said that a white tiger came and sat on his grave, as though protecting it. Hence the name of Tiger Hill.
Come here to see hundreds of bonsai trees that have been internationally recognized!
7:30 am- 5:30 pm
8. Suzhou Ferris Wheel Amusement Park
40 (kids) -80 RMB
One for the kids, or if you need a break from the cultural attractions. The Ferris wheel will take you 120 meters into the sky, and you may even catch a look at Suzhou’s Shangri La. There’s also a roller coaster, and other rides and entertainment.
13:30 pm-21:30 pm on weekdays; 09:30am-22:00 pm on weekends.
9. Shantang Jie
Cash for shopping/ eating
This street makes for a picturesque stroll on your way to Tiger Hill. It was built during the Tang dynasty to deliver China’s royalty to the popular Tiger Hill attraction. The pretty is lined with ancient buildings along a canal that is crisscrossed with old bridges decorated by hanging red lanterns. There are tourist shops, and plenty places to eat. Make sure to snap a pic of the seven stone cats guarding the bridges over the stream.
10. Ride around Lake Tai
105 RMB for Turtle Head Island, bikes are about 10 RMB
Lake Tai is the third largest freshwater lake in all of China. You can rent a bike from many places around the lake, and it’s the best way to explore the tranquil shores. Make sure to visit Turtle Head Island, named for it’s shape.
The Turtle Head Islet Park is mostly a natural attraction (see huge trees and beautiful plants and flowers), but it’s been smartly supplemented by some man-made additions like sculptures.
8:30 am- 5:30 pm
11. Suzhou Museum
Construction finished in 1960, the museum is home to numerous Chinese relics that are of vital national importance. It’s been remade to make the best possible use of the space available, and the modern design does not ignore the history and balance of Suzhou. It’s in the classical Suzhou-style garden setting.
The exhibits highlight the prosperous Wu era: see the Wu Treasures, Wu Pagoda Relics, Wu Arts and Crafts, and Wu Paintings and Calligraphy.
9 am- 5 pm