Suzhou, China

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.

The distinct teapot in front of the teahouseRiver flowing through the Calm GardenSuzhou Calm Garden
Magnificent peacock wood carving from the roots of a treeSonya standing in a brightly coloured archInside the teahouse

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.

Tour boat on Suzhou Grand CanalMinor canal branching from Suzhou Grand CanalBuildings on the edge of Suzhou Grand Canal

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.

Suzhou Grand CanalPoet Zhang JiHanshan Temple entrance
Traditional pastry being made in Hanshan TempleSonya enjoying her traditional pastryDistinguishing yellow walls of Hanshan Temple

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.

Large machine unwinding the silk threads from silkworm cocoonsPearls in a pearl oysterPlenty of pear necklaces

Suzhou city

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.

Suzhou city centreSuzhou canals at nightSuzhou canals at night