Suzhou Grand Canal (Suzhou Canals)

The Suzhou Grand Canal is a section of the Grand Canal from Hangzhou to Beijing, which was built in the Sui Dynasty (581 - 618 AD) about 1,400 years ago. The Suzhou Grand Canal makes a circuit around Suzhou Old Town. It acted as a moat in ancient times, when it was an important mean of transportation for goods and passengers. Almost half of all goods in Suzhou were transported through the canal in the past. Nowadays, with historical sites on its banks and diverse old bridges above, it is a top attraction in Suzhou city. The best way to tour it is by cruise.

What Can You See along the Suzhou Grand Canal

Old Bridges

There are 20 historical bridges over Suzhou Grand Canal, thus the canal is considered a bridge museum. These old bridges go through the vicissitudes in history, becoming more charming. Some bridges are carved with diverse patterns that you can appreciate more fully from the water. Among these, Midu Bridge, with a single span, is the best-perserved one.

Suzhou Ancient City Wall

Since the Suzhou Grand Canal was also used as the moat in the past, it was built next to Suzhou's Ancient City Wall. Built about 2,500 years ago, the Suzhou Ancient City Wall has witnessed the historical changes in the old city. It was extended and rebuilt many times in its long history. Although the city wall is not grand, it is quite beautiful. From the water, you can feast your eyes on the quaint city wall together with its city gates.

Ancient City Gates

The city wall has a total of 10 ancient city gates. The most famous one is Xu Gate. First constructed in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), Xu Gate was rebuilt in 1351 AD during the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368 AD). It is the most important historical structure along the Suzhou Grand Canal.
 See also: Panmen Scenic Area

Combined Views of Old and Modern Suzhou

Along the canal you can see not only the ancient architecture, but also the modern sights. On one side of the canal, is Suzhou Old Town inside the ancient city wall. You can see typical antique buildings on that shore. On the other side, there are modern buildings of current Suzhou. These harmonious views show you the charms of different eras in Suzhou.

Best Way to Tour Suzhou Grand Canal – Cruise from Xinshiqiao Wharf

Tourists can take a daytime or a nighttime cruise on the Suzhou Grand Canal. The boats depart from the Xinshiqiao Wharf when they are full, and make a round trip along the canal, returning back to the wharf in about 45 minutes. The hours are 9:00-16:00 and  18:00-20:30.

The night cruise is the most popular. When the colorful lamps are lit everywhere, you can witness the night views in Suzhou, as the ancient houses and modern buildings enhance the beauty of each other. The polychrome old town at night and the soft Suzhou language are enchanting. It seems to be a dreamy fairy land.
On the boat, tourists can also try the local delicious foods and watch a Pingtan performance – story telling and ballad singing in the Suzhou dialect, which provides some insights into the local Wu culture and Chinese traditional culture.

How to get to Xinshiqiao Wharf

 1. Take the city bus 7, 45, 51, 200 north line, 200 south line, 300 north line, 300 south line, 318, 522, 921, 970 east line, 970 west line, night line 5 to Xinshi Bridge Wharf Stop.
 2. Take the bus 47, 602 or 935 to Xinshi Bridge South Stop, then walk northward for about 450 meters (492 yards) to reach the wharf.

See Also: 8 Things to Do in Suzhou at Night
- Last updated on Mar. 31, 2021 -
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