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.Begin the tour of Suzhou visiting one of the finest gardens in Southern China, the Humble Administrator’s Garden.Explore the Lingering Garden before heading to Tongli Water Town.Savor tea at the garden’s teahouse and be sure to stop by the museum for more history. 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. Due in part to Suzhou’s pristine preservation of its culture and heritage, Suzhou’s museums are both enriching and abundant. Admission: ¥15 Built in 2006 by famed local architect I. Pei, the Suzhou Museum is the city’s largest museum, showcasing a vast majority of the area’s breathtaking culture. (closed Mondays)Admission: Free (¥100 for a docent-led tour in English or ¥30 for an audio tour) Set out on foot (or bike) to discover Suzhou’s storied landmarks and hidden gems.Location: Gusu District — 178 Dongbei Street, Suzhou Hours: a.m. Location: Gusu District — No 1, Kuo JIa Tou Lane, Suzhou Hours: a.m. A longstanding history of silk production remains an integral thread in Suzhou’s cultural fabric. 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. For a trip back in time, head to Shantang Street, famous for its old temples, ancestral halls and memorial arches.
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. Location: Gusu District — 338 Liuyuan Road, Suzhou Hours: a.m. Admission: ¥45 (Jan.–March, June, Nov.–Dec.) / ¥55 (April–May, July–Oct.)Learn more about the Lingering Garden It may be the smallest of Suzhou’s Classical Gardens, but Master of the Nets Garden packs a grand punch. Don’t miss the majestic waterfall and ancient trees that also dot the grounds. Zhouzhuang, located in Kunshan City along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and Taihu Lake, is as enchanting as a fairytale. 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. 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.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 — or SIP — is the epicenter of modern-day Suzhou.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. 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. Location: Gusu District — 23 Yuanlin Road, Suzhou Hours: a.m. From its impeccably preserved residential architecture and stone bridges to its winding canals and colored traditions, Zhouzhuang does not disappoint. 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. 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.Walk atop interlacing bridges as they lead you to the garden’s romantic water features, famed relics and preserved pavilions. 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 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. 24, Hanshan Temple Alley, Fengqiao, Suzhou Hours: a.m. Admission: ¥20Learn more about the Hanshan Temple What better way to absorb more than 2,500 years of history than with a visit to one of Suzhou’s fascinating museums.
Adjacent, the Suzhou Museum is the latest masterpiece of China’s most famous architect, I. The 60 cabins carrying a total of 300 passengers take 20 minutes per rotation, providing great views of the lake and the Suzhou skyline.