Nestled within the Yangtze Delta, Suzhou is known as the “Venice of the Orient” because of its numerous canals, streams and ponds. Canal-side cafes and shops bring a lively waterfront ambience to the city, while pocket gardens and museums add a dose of culture.
Things to do in Suzhou
Pingjiang Lu is one of the oldest and most popular canal-side streets in the historic district, lined with whitewashed cottages and traditional tea houses. It’s also where to find trendy espresso shops, dumpling cafes, ice-cream stands and rice-wine tasting venues. Pick up souvenirs in small shops, including Tibetan crafts and instruments.
Perched just off Shiquan Jie, you’ll find the Master of the Nets Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 12th century. Reflecting a meticulously crafted use of space, the garden encompasses a compact labyrinth of courtyards, windows and gardens within gardens. Keep an eye out for the Rosy Cloud Pool and a cypress tree from the Ming dynasty.
Visit Suzhou Museum to view an extensive collection of Chinese art, calligraphy, paintings, crafts and ceramics. You can also visit the Folk Branch of the museum near Lion Grove Garden to explore Chinese festivals, traditions and child-rearing ideals. Head over to Suzhou Silk Museum to learn about the city’s 4,000-year-old silk and weaving industry.
Take a break at Bookworm Beijing, a cultural gathering spot for book readings, live music and open-mic sessions. The cafe serves casual international cuisine and you can borrow books to read while relaxing. The store hosts an annual literary festival in March.
Getting around Suzhou
Sunan Shuofang International Airport in Wuxi is about 40 kilometres away. You can rent a car or use taxis, tourist buses, trains and bike hire for getting around.