Tongli Town

Map of Tongli Town
Map of Tongli Water Town (Click to enlarge)
Originally named Futu (meaning a rich land), Tongli is an age-old but very well preserved water town with a history of more than 1,000 years. Located on the eastern shore of Taihu Lake, just 11 miles (18 kilometers) from Suzhou City, the town is 24 square miles (63 square kilometers) in area and has a population of over 33 thousand. True to its reputation, Tongli water town is a really wonderful travel destination where you can spend a marvelous holiday or experience traditional Chinese culture. Follow this introduction and you will have a general idea of this captivating water-town.

Cultural History

Tongli is a town with a profound cultural background and achievement. From ancient times, it has been teeming with poets, painters, Confucian scholars and government officials. Their abilities have made great contributions to progress in many areas of the country. Dozens of stone tablets from different periods are preserved here and many of the streets are named after their official titles. Walking through the alleys of this venerable water town, one cannot fail to appreciate its pristine and intoxicating atmosphere. In 1981 Tongli was declared one of the thirteen national standard tour towns of the Taihu Lake region. In addition, in 1982 it was listed for protection as the standard provincial town of cultural interest in Jiangsu Province.

Ancient Bridges

These are the vital links between the different parts of town. Forty-nine stone bridges in a variety of styles join the seven islands created by fifteen rivers and five lakes upon which Tongli Town stands. Each bridge has a name and these examples will give you an idea of the poetic nature of the inhabitants. Perhaps the most notable are Peace and Tranquility Bridge (Taiping Bridge), Luck Bridge (Jili Bridge) and Lasting Celebration Bridge (Changqing Bridge). These are known as Ternate Bridges as they cross three rivers at their confluence and form a natural ring road.
Tongli Town, Suzhou
 Tongli Town Pictures
Bridges act the common connecter of different parts of the town
Bridges link different parts of the town
The small and exquisite Taiping Bridge was built during the reign of emperor Jiaqing of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911); Jili Bridge is an arch bridge and inscribed with age-old couplets describing the beautiful painting-like views at either end; Changqing Bridge, also named Guangli Bridge, was originally constructed in 1470 and rebuilt by Xiezhen in 1704. Ternate Bridges are propitious symbols in the eyes of the local residents and they walk over them for good luck during wedding or birthday parties.

The oldest bridge in the town is Reflecting Origin Bridge (Siben Bridge) which was built in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) while the smallest bridge is called Single Step (Dubu) which is only 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length and less than 3 feet (1 meter) in width. Standing motionlessly for hundreds of years, the bridges bear witness to the vicissitudes of history and remain an indispensable part of the town.

Residential Houses

Tongli water town deserves its reputation of a 'museum of ancient architectures' as there are good many houses and temples dating from the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). Built along the riversides and decorated with flying eaves, carved windows, porcelain furniture, figured clay bricks, dapper gardens and small stairs leading down to the water, these complexes mean Tongli is a shining pearl among the water-towns south of Yangtze River.

An elegant house in the town
An elegant house
Residential house in the town
Old residential house in Tongli

Retreat and Reflection Garden (Tuisi Garden)

Tongli Town, Suzhou
Tongli, an ancient water town

Built by the retired official Ren Lansheng from 1885 to 1887, Retreat and Reflection Garden is the most spectacular in the town. Its name is derived from an aphorism expressed in a very famous biography called Zuo Zhuan written by Zuo Qiuming in the Eastern Zhou period (770 BC-221 BC): 'Be loyal to the emperor when in officialdom; be meditative upon the previous faults while away from officialdom'. The ingenious design for the garden conforms to the local landforms and conditions and covers about 700 square meters (one fifth acre). Compact and  harmonious, the garden is in two parts. The residential area in the west consists of an outer house and an inner house including the sedan hall, the tea hall, a main reception hall and two buildings forming the actual dwelling. The garden in the east has ponds, marble boats, waterside pavilions, halls, kiosks, verandas, rockeries and bridges. Together with flourishing trees and colorful flowers, the garden greets visitors with its beauty and charm whatever the season.

How to Get to Tongli from Suzhou/Shanghai/Hangzhou?

From Suzhou:

1. Take a bus from the north square of Suzhou Railway Station or from Suzhou North Bus Station/South Bus Station, at a fare of CNY 8.
2. Take Rail Transit Line 4 and get off at Tongli Station. Then transfer to the tourist bus bound for the north entrance of Tongli. If you have the entrance ticket of Tongli Town, you can take the bus for free. The bus departs every 30 minutes between 08:00 and 17:00. Or you can take bus 725 from the subway station, and get off at Shipailou Station. Walk for 200 meters (220 yards) northward and you can see the south entrance of the town.
Suzhou Bus Search

From Shanghai:

Take a tourist bus from the General Station of the Shanghai Tour Bus Center or Hongkou Branch to the town.

From Hangzhou:

Take a bus from Hangzhou North Bus Station to Tongli. The bus runs respectively at 07:50, 10:35 and 12:55.

Admission Fee CNY 100 (including 10 scenic spots)
Free of charge for children below 4.6 feet (1.4 meters).

1. The ticket is valid for two days at most. Tourists who plan to stay overnight have to declare when buying the tickets and get the tickets stamped at the ticket office.
2. One can enter the town without a ticket from 18:00 to 6:00 the next morning, but can not visit any of the scenic spots inside without a ticket.
Opening Hours The town is open all day long.
The scenic spots inside are open from 7:30 to 17:30;
The Retreat and Reflection Garden has an additional open from 18:30 to 21:30 on the weekends in summertime.
Boat CNY 90 for a rowboat
A boat allows six people at most and a cruise takes about half an hour.
Sightseeing Car CNY 10 per person

 Other water towns around Suzhou:
 Luzhi Town
 Guangfu Ancient Town
 Mudu Ancient Town
 Zhouzhuang Water Town
 Shaxi Ancient Town 

 Top 10 Things to Do in Suzhou 
- Last modified on Jun. 04, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Tongli Town
Asked by Peer from INDIA | Jun. 04, 2019 00:27Reply
What would be the minimum but a quality time required to explore Tongli Town?
Answers (1)
Answered by Gloria from AUSTRALIA | Jun. 04, 2019 19:39

It is suggested to stay for 1-2 days.
Asked by Rachel from IRELAND | May. 08, 2019 05:00Reply
Where can I purchase a ticket for Tongli Town if I travel to Suzhou and take train line 4 there ?
Answers (1)
Answered by Nelly from CANADA | May. 09, 2019 00:37

You can buy a ticket at the entrance of the town.
Asked by Sophie from ENGLAND | May. 02, 2019 06:53Reply
Do you need to book tickets of Tongli Town in advance?
Answers (1)
Answered by Sarah from NEW ZEALAND | May. 06, 2019 01:24

No, you don't.
Asked by Michael from PHILIPPINES | Apr. 29, 2019 07:21Reply
Hi, how much does it cost to ride Bus 725 from Tongli Station to Tongli Town?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jim from AUSTRALIA | Apr. 29, 2019 22:38

It takes about 20 minutes and CNY1.
Asked by Apurva from INDIA | Apr. 27, 2019 12:41Reply
How many hours will it take to travel from suzhou to Tongli Town?
And the ferry ride and back to suzhou?
Answers (1)
Answered by Anna from NETHERLANDS | Apr. 28, 2019 01:42

It takes about 30mins from Suzhou North Bus Station to the town.
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