Our 3 week China tour – Suzhou Edition

Our hosts at Nanjing University were kind and generous enough to make arrangements and organized two student guides to take us to the city of Suzhou for an overnight trip. We absolutely loved Suzhou. It is often referred to as the “Venice of the East” due to its many canals and stone bridges. It is also famous for its multitude of classical Chinese gardens, which is collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Suzhou also had a laid back vibe that we had not sensed in other Chinese cities.

We felt like we got the perfect Suzhou experience so if you have one day in Suzhou, this is how we would recommend you spend it…

A visit to one of Suzhou’s classical gardens: Humble Administrator’s Garden (Suzhou’s largest garden)


Street where Humble Administrator’s Garden and Suzhou Museum is located. Lined with tourist carts and shops.


Rockery, a key element in classical Chinese garden design


An area of the Humble Administrator’s Garden


My peeps


An area of the Humble Administrator’s Garden

Then after lunch, hire a gondola/boat to take you for a ride on the canal. For an additional fee, the gondolier will even sing some traditional folk songs to entertain you.


Our gondolier


Narrow canal


The canal remains a part of every day life in Suzhou as evidenced by these locals using the canal to wash clothes and other household items.


Local life on the left. Tourist shops and cafes on the right.


A rare family photo. We try to take one in each city:)

After the boat ride, take a stroll down Pingjiang Road, an ancient Suzhou street and explore a little further into the alleyways to get a sense of local life.


Quaint Pingjiang Road


Back of a home. Notice the funnel and pipe leading from the second story window into the canal. Unknown what they are depositing using this method. Hopefully nothing too nasty.


An alleyway and window into local life


Front door of a home

There are many cafes along Pingjiang Road for a walking break. We chose one with outdoor seating overlooking the canal. It was a great way to people watch and absorb the atmosphere surrounding the canal.

The next morning after breakfast we had just enough time to explore another famous Suzhou street, Shantang Street, before heading to the train station for our train to Hangzhou. We enjoyed the atmosphere on Pingjiang Road more so if you only have time for one of them, choose Pingjiang Road.


The Grand Canal off Shantang Street


The image I will take away of Suzhou

We highly recommend a visit to Suzhou. Its close proximity to Shanghai (less than an hour by train), Hangzhou and Nanjing (both less than 2 hours by train) make it an easy travel destination for both domestic and international tourists.


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