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)
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.
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.
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.
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.