We made a day trip to Suzhou from Shanghai; Suzhou is only 45mins away from Shanghai by train. Suzhou is famous for its classical gardens which are listed as a World Heritage site.
Upon arrival, unsure of what to do and constantly being annoyed by tour operators, we decided to agree and go on a tour for ¥120 per person. The tour visited the following places:
Suzhou Calm Garden
Out of 9 Classical Gardens of Suzhou that make the World Heritage listing, the Suzhou Calm Garden is unfortunately not one. The garden was a slight disappointment; maybe due to visit during winter, the garden didn’t feel ‘lush’ enough. The entry to the garden included a tea tasting and boat ride down the river.
Boat ride on the Grand Canal
One nickname for Suzhou is Venice of the East, due to its similar buildings on the edge of the canals. However, pollution and rubbish make it look nowhere as appealing.
Fengqiao (Maple Bridge) and Hanshan Temple (Cold Mountain Temple)
Hanshan Temple is famous because of the poem A Night Mooring by Maple Bridge by poet Zhang Ji.
Silk and Pearls
With small tours it is quite common at the end to take the tourists to shops disguised as attractions in the hope they will buy something and hence the tour guides get a commission. And this tour was no different. The first stop was a silk factory; Suzhou is famous for its silk in China. The silk factory was quite interesting, I didn’t realise that each silkworm cocoon was unwound to produce raw silk thread; it is a very mechanical process. The second unknown destination took us to a pearl factory, which wasn’t at all interesting.
At the end of the tour we had some free time to wonder around the city centre and view Suzhou at night. At night, the canals water reflected the buildings and light and the whole city didn’t look as dingy.