One of our favorite cities in China during our trip in August, was without doubt Suzhou. Located only 30 minutes away from Shanghai, this will offer you the best contrast to the crazy city life of Shanghai. Suzhou is the perfect idyllic Chinese city, with its many beautiful gardens, canals, and vendors around every corner selling steamed goods. Would recommend anyone being in the Shanghai area to stop by this city.
What to see and do
- Stroll around the Humble Administrator’s Garden and admire the idyllic pavilions, lotus ponds, bamboo groves, and zigzagging bridges. There are in general so many gardens and pagodas to visit in Suzhou, such as Lion’s Grove Garden, North Temple Pagoda, Temple of Mystery, and Couple’s Garden.
- Suzhou Silk Musem
- Go shopping or stop by the cafés along Pingjiang Lu.
- Tour the small canals within the city walls. Just like in Venice, you can hire a guy to give you a tour of the canals. As the price isn’t negotiable, we teamed up with two Chinese couples, and ended up only paying 40 ¥ for the two of us. If you got more money on your hands, you can also pay the boatman to sing traditional Suzhou songs.
- The Grand Canal runs through Suzhou, so obviously you need to take a night boatride on it. We were fortunate enough to meet a Danish guy, who arranged the tickets for us, but it should be easy enough to get your hands on them if you arrive early. Tickets can be bought for 120 ¥ at the Tourist Boat Wharf, and includes 55 minutes tour of the canal and singing and píngtán, singing and storytelling in the Suzhou dialect.
What to eat and drink
For lunch we found a little local courtyard restaurant hidden in an alley north of Lion’s Grove Garden. The restaurant is called Wumen Renjia, and serves traditional Suzhou cooking. Our favorites were their kungpao chicken, fried rice, and the pork balls in brown sauce.
Good to know