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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for Getting off the Beaten Path in Suzhou: Exploring the City's Hidden Gems - Venturing Beyond the Tourist Trail
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Getting off the Beaten Path in Suzhou: Exploring the City's Hidden Gems - Venturing Beyond the Tourist Trail

Suzhou is a prominent city in the south of Jiangsu province, in the East of China and west of Shanghai. It is a popular city for its scenic beauty, picturesque canals, classic Chinese Gardens and bridges. Here are some hidden gems of Suzhou that must be discovered!

1

Explore ancient waterfront villages

Suzhou's old villages, like Zhouzhuang, Luzhi, and Tongli, provide a peek into the traditional way of life for the Chinese before industrialisation took over greater China. These villages were made close to a grid of canals, with narrow alleys, gravel bridges, and simple, traditional architecture.Travellers can go on a boat ride via the canals, visit the small shops and markets, feast on authentic eats and drink Chinese tea in one of the many charming teahouses.

2

Suzhou's Museums

With a history dating to almost 2500 years, Suzhou's rich cultural legacy is astounding. Travellers to Suzhou can visit the Suzhou Museum, the Silk Museum, and the City Wall to understand more about the beginnings of the city. The main museum in Suzhou is a masterwork of design by renowned architect I.M. Pei. A visit to the museum will enlighten you about Suzhou's incredible artworks, culture, and the city's historical past. The Silk Museum demonstrates the city's silk production, and the Ancient City Wall will give you a glimpse into Suzhou's military engagements and defensive architecture. If you're searching for apartments in Suzhou, consider checking out a property such as Oakwood Hotel and Residence Suzhou that could serve as a comfortable home base while you explore the city's many attractions.

3

Explore Local Cuisine

Like everywhere in China, Suzhou is renowned for its delectable cuisine and is a combination of flavours from the Jiangsu province and adjacent cities.

Some must-try preparations are sweet and sour mandarin fish, Suzhou-style noodles, fermented rice wine cake, noodles with red soup, and pan-fried pork buns. Tourists can enjoy these preparations and more at restaurants and food stalls or join a traditional cooking class to learn how to make them yourself.  

4

Amble along the Lingering Garden

Despite being lesser than the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the Lingering Garden is a beautifully created Confucian masterpiece. The garden layout was designed at the height of the Qing Dynasty. Among the major attractions is the Celestial Hall of Five Peaks, a hall made from scarce nanmu wood and is the focal point in the gardens. Others include the Fish Fossil, a portion of marble sculpted to look like a sea creature towering over the main pavilion, and the Cloud Capped Peak, dated to the Song Dynasty and crafted from stones of Taihu Lake. 

5

Tiger Hill and Cloud Rock Pagoda

One of Suzhou’s historic locations is Tiger Hill and the soaring Cloud Rock Pagoda, dating to the 10th century. The hill is artificially made and is also the burial site of He Lu, the 6th-century founder of the city. According to anecdotes, Lu's remains were interred with a thousand swords to safeguard him in his afterlife.

The hill became a favourite retreat for many emperors and consorts. Thus the site became a place of importance for the many people who visited it, as it was for the Chinese elite. It has barely altered since then and is a great way to spend your afternoon exploring the many fascinating places on the hill.