Come to Suzhou in the Jiangsu province to witness the exceptional gardens and waterside architecture that date as far back as the 12th century BC. The city is part of the Yangtze River Delta and its waterways have always brought in the new: artists, scholars, goods, ideas, crafts, and more. The Grand Canal from the 6th century Sui Dynasty runs from Beijing to Hangzhou and has heavily influenced the culture of this region.
The city today is a bustling place, wrought with as much good as bad that comes with being an important port and trading center. Suzhou’s history is deep and rich, making it the 3rd most historically significant behind Beijing and Xi'an in China. It is so important to China’s legacy, in fact, that it is only one of 4 cities in the nation that is environmentally protected (alongside Beijing, Hangzhou, and Guilin) and its classical gardens were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Finally there is the artistic side of Suzhou. Silk, as you may know, has been a major trade variable in the Chinese economy for ages. The silk production in Suzhou and embroidery school is ranked No.4 in the nation. As well, the performing arts are particularly talented here. Much of the music and presentations are influenced from the Wu kingdom from the BC eras. Kunqu opera and storytelling, stele carving, calligraphy, and painting are all characteristics of Suzhou not to be skipped over.
Suzhou has 4 distinct season including a monsoon and subtropical climate. As with many other areas in China, summers are hot and humid while winters are cool and cloudy with some snow. Since Suzhou is in the north, some Siberian winds blow south, making the city an icebox some winter nights. On the other hand, southerly winds from the hot desert blow into the city in the summers, making it very hot and uncomfortable. Spring and autumn are the best seasons to travel Suzhou while weather at that time is pleasant.
Being an important historical and tourist city, Suzhou is easily accessible by air, rail and road. its location along the Beijing-Hangzhou grand canal means the city also enjoys good waterway transportation. For more details, just check out Suzhou Transportation.
There is no airport in Suzhou; flyers must first arrive to Shanghai or Wuxi then transfer into the city. You can also fly from Nanjing or Hangzhou.
There are 4 main train stations in Suzhou (Suzhou Station (Suzhou Zhan), Suzhou North Station (Suzhou Bei Zhan), Suzhou Industrial Park Station (Suzhou Yuanqu), and Suzhou Xinqu Station) and train is the most convenient way of accessing other faraway areas of China.
Suzhou Station is located just north of downtown on Beihuan Lu Road and is on the Shanghai-Nanjing mainline. There are frequent high-speed trains to Shanghai, Wuxi, Changzhou, Zhenjiang and Nanjing. A train ride to Shanghai takes less than 30 minutes and Nanjing is about 1 hour away. There are slower and lower class T- and K- services from other provinces on their way to Shanghai or Nanjing stop at Suzhou, but if you are traveling from anywhere within Jiangsu, it is recommended to take a fast G-train.
Between Suzhou and Beijing, access the Suzhou North Railway station on the outskirts of town which is used for high-speed trains that take about 5 hours.
The city is a major stop along the Beijing-Shanghai railway with more than 40 daily trains passing through. These trains connect Suzhou with Xian, Guilin, and beyond.
There are 3 main bus stations (South, North, and West) that link Suzhou with destinations such as Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuxi, Zhouzhuang, and Tongli.
The South station is the largest and most modern, servicing Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, and other places in eastern China. The North station has service to Wuxi, Zhangjiagang, Changzhou, Kunshan, and Nanjing. Finally, the West station has buses that run to small, local villages nearby Suzhou.
The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the lifeblood of Suzhou for both transport and trade. Boats along the canal can take travelers north in the direction of Zhenjiang and Yangzhou, or south to Hangzhou. The journey south is particularly marvelous with countless breathtaking landscapes.
As a large and developed city, Suzhou has a complete public bus system that well serves travelers and commuters. These buses go to almost all areas of the city and have a cheap, flat rate, with fares for air conditioned buses a little more than those that are not serviced. Be sure to have exact change for your journey. Knowing Chinese is very instrumental in taking advantage of the bus system but is not essential due to tourist maps available. There are 5 handy tourist buses with the prefix "tour" that all serve the railway station and connect most of the main sights within the city proper. In general, buses cover the entire city and run frequently from 5am to 9pm on the whole.
Reasonably priced taxis allow you to get around the city fast and efficiently. There are always taxies driving around to pick up passengers from the street. It is best to have your destination written in Chinese as few drivers are able to converse in English.
As of May 2013, there is 1 subway line in Suzhou that runs between the Suzhou New District and the Old Town and Suzhou Industrial Park. Expansion to this network is in the plans.
Since it is among the most popular destinations in China, Suzhou has many hotels and accommodations of all categories for travelers. Budget travelers may like the hostels while more discerning visitors may elect the fuller service hotels.
Some good budget choices include Mingtown-Suzhou Youth Hostel, Noah’s Hotel Suzhou, and Suzhou Minghantang Youth Hostel. Economic and value properties include Bamboo Grove Hotel and Suzhou Nanlin Hotel. To indulge, stay at the Somerset Emerald City Suzhou, Regalia Resort & Spa, or Garden Hotel Suzhou.
The flavors of Suzhou are namely sweet and delicate. Fresh vegetables, seafood, shellfish, and glutinous rice desserts are among the local favorites. There are many proven restaurants to discover where you can try the famous cuisine known as Taihu Lake Boat dishes and also a breaded fried fish plate called Song Shu Gui Yu.
Suzhou is particularly famous for its embroidery, silk fans, musical instruments, scroll mounting, lanterns, mahogany furniture, and jade carvings. Freshwater pearls, sandalwood fans, tea and green teas, and snuff bottles are also items you should consider taking back home with you.
The gardens of Suzhou steal the spotlight. These classic Chinese establishments have survived the tests of time and are private enclaves that offer dainty layouts and decorations from more traditional times. The most famous are the Humble Administrator's Garden, Garden of the Master of the Nets, Lingering Garden, and more.
For variety, also visit the Suzhou Silk Museum, Panmen Gate, Hanshan Temple, Ligongdi, Suzhou Industrial Park and Jinji Lake. For more attractions, just see our Suzhou's Top Attractions.
Here is an ideal itinerary we recommend for 2-3 days in Suzhou. You could also check our pre-designed Suzhou tours or conatct us to tailor-made your own Suzhou tour.
Day 1: Arrive in Suzhou, visit the Humble Administrator’s Garden, Silk Factory, and take a short jaunt to or boat ride along the Grand Canal.
Day 2: Visit the Master of Nets Garden, Lingering Garden, and wandering around Shantang Road or depart today.
Day 3: Leisure morning, depart Suzhou in the afternoon or evening.