Top 10 Things to Do in Suzhou

An old saying is popularized in China "The gardens to the south of Yangtze River are the top in the world, and Suzhou's gardens are the best of them". Thus, the top 10 things to do in Suzhou certainly include visits to the classical gardens. The beautiful and ancient city is also dubbed "Venice of the East" and the romantic water towns will offer you a unique experience. Let's see the best places to visit in Suzhou.



Humble Administrator's Garden

Humble Administrator's Garden
As one of China’s four most famous gardens, Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest and most famous classic garden in Suzhou and was named a UNESCO World Heritage cultural site in 1997. The garden is known for its exquisite design and the tranquil ponds, rockery and pavilions. When you enter the garden and look around, you will find the architectures matching the environment perfectly, which is like the unrolling of a beautiful painting.

Visiting the garden is one of the top things to do in Suzhou. There are azalea shows in spring, lotus exhibitions in summer, and chrysanthemum shows in fall. However, remember to avoid the peak seasons and holidays and you will have a better experience.

 Recommended Tour to the Garden:  One Day Suzhou Tour from $140

Lingering Garden

Lingering Garden, Suzhou
Lingering Garden enjoys the equal popularity with Humble Administrator's Garden. Though a small delicate garden, it holds the title as one of China’s four most famous gardens. You can enjoy the exquisite pavilions and winding corridors in Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) style. One of the best things to do is to stroll around in the garden and appreciate the three treasures: Celestial Hall of Five Peaks made of nanmu wood, Fish Fossil - a piece of marble with one-meter diameter, as well as Cloud-Capped Peak which is said to be a relic from the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127), made of rocks from the Taihu Lake. The west part is the highest place of the garden and you can ascend the belvedere to overlook the stunning landscapes.

Tiger Hill – Culture Symbol of Suzhou

Tiger Hill, Suzhou
Tiger Hill is a must-see place in Suzhou and it has been called the culture symbol of the city. Why does it have such a reputation? That’s because in different dynasties, whatever literati or emperors all have a high regard of the hill and every attraction hide a legendary story. A famous poet Su Shi in Song Dynasty said that “ It is a lifelong pity to visit Suzhou but not  to see the Tiger Hill.” The most attractive spot is the Tiger Hill Pagoda, also called Pagoda of Yunyang Temple, which is famous for being a leaning tower. Anyway, in Tiger Hill, you can not only take in the beautiful natural scenery but also know more about the stories in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC).

Visit Shantang Street

Shantang Street, Suzhou
Shangtang Street is an ancient street with more than one thousand years’ history, lined with old buildings like memorial archways, ancestral temples, guild halls and modern buildings such as souvenir shops, tea houses and restaurants. Especially the southeast part of the street, also called old Shangtang Street, extends 360 meters (395 yards) long. There assembles various artifacts stores and local snacks. In addition, you can see a large ancient architectural complex, Yuhan Hall, which is the former residence of the official in Ming Dynasty (1644 - 1911). Finally, cruising on the river and enjoying the old buildings is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Suzhou at night. 

Stroll around Pingjiang Road

Suzhou Pingjiang Road
Pingjiang Road historical block is to the south of Humble Administrator's Garden and it has a history of more than 2,500 years. Pingjiang Road stretches around 1.6 km (1 mile) with different lanes on both sides of west and east. Especially on the east side, a lot of waterways parallel the lanes. One of the free things to do in Suzhou is to stroll in the narrow streets to appreciate the ancient stone bridges and elegant old houses with white walls, grey tiles as well as wooden doors and window frames. Meanwhile, there are a lot of special boutiques and nice bars catching tourists’ eyes. 

 Recommended Tour with Pingjiang Road:   Suzhou 2 Days Tour from $259

Zhouzhuang – No. 1 Water Town in China

Zhouzhuang Water Town
Situated in Kunshan City which is near Suzhou, Zhouzhuang has a reputation of “No. 1 Water Township in China ”. Thus, exploring the water town should be on the list of top 10 things to do in Suzhou. The town is crisscrossed with various water ways and rife with ancient architectures in Ming and Qing Dynasties. The residence of Shen Wansan, a legendary merchant who possessed a large quantity of fortune in early Ming Dynasty, is an attraction you cannot miss. Besides visiting various former residences of Chinese celebrities, taking a wooden boat on the winding canals to enjoy the ancient stone bridges will give you  a really unforgettable experience. 

 Recommended Tour:  1 Day Tour to Zhouzhuang Water Town from $140

Watch Kun Opera or Suzhou Pingtan Performance

Suzhou Pingtan Performance
Enjoying Kun Opera or Pingtan is one of must things to do in Suzhou, which is also a good way to do a deeper dive into the local culture. As one of the oldest operas in China, Kun Opera stemmed from Suzhou area with a history more than 600 years. In past time, its graceful performance and delicate stories made watching Kun Opera become a popular activity in the nobility. However, now you can easily enjoy the Kun Opera in a common local teahouse or theater. In addition, Pingtan, a kind of traditional performance consists of storytelling and ballad singing in Suzhou dialect, is also pretty popular in South of Yangtze River.

Su Embroidery

Su Embroidery
Another cultural symbol of the city is the Su Embroidery, a delicate silk handicraft you cannot miss. As one of the four most famous embroideries in China, it’s known for the ingenious design, elegant colors and unique style of rich local characteristics. The best way to know about this handicraft is to visit the Museum of Suzhou Embroidery Art which holds more than one hundred spectacular collections. The museum consists of three parts: Ancient Exhibit Hall, here you can appreciate the collections before Ming Dynasty; Ming and Qing Hall, which contains the masterpieces including Emperor Qianlong's imperial robe and some popular accessories in the Qing Dynasty; Modern Exhibit Hall, which showcases the fabulous works in modern times like complex double-sided embroidery with different images on either side.

 Recommended Tour to learn Su Embroidery:  2 Days Suzhou Tour Package from $279

Suzhou Museum

Suzhou Museum
Visiting Suzhou Museum is one of the free things to do in Suzhou. Designed by the famous architect Ieoh Ming Pei in 2006, the museum consists of two main parts: modern building constructed in 2006 and former residence of Li Zhong, one of the three heroes in the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-1864). The museum perfectly combines traditional and modern characteristics, which is sure to leave you a lasting impression. Besides visiting the four permanent exhibitions, you can also take in some folk exhibitions to experience the local customs.

Remember to appreciate the two national treasures in the museum: Celadon Lotus-Shaped Bowl and Pearl Pillar of the Buddhist Shrine, which were both created 1,000 years ago.

 Recommended Tour:  Suzhou Day Trip to the Museum from $121

Jinji Lake - Modern Sights in Suzhou

Suzhou Jinji Lake
Having seen so many historical sites, Jinji Lake is a beautiful attraction you can’t miss to enjoy the modern aspects of the city. The lake is even larger than the West Lake in Hangzhou and you can have a riverside stroll or river cruise to enjoy the leisure. In addition, the International Commercial Water Street lined with various famous brands from abroad and domestic is very attractive. At last, enjoying a fantastic bird’s eye view of the lake on the sky wheel is also a good option.

 Recommended Tour to the Lake:  1 Day Suzhou City Tour from $102

Read More:
8 Things to Do in Suzhou at Night
Top 8 Suzhou Water Towns
12 Best Places to Visit in Suzhou
- Last updated on May. 25, 2023 by Catherine He -
Questions & Answers on Top 10 Things to Do in Suzhou
Asked by Hana from INDONESIA | Oct. 06, 2023 13:56Reply
From Wuxi Airport to Heyuan Road Suzhou
How to get to Cendre Hotel Heyuan Road Suzhou from Wuxi Airport?
Answers (1)
Answered by Lily | Oct. 06, 2023 18:01

You can take the Bus Line 1 from the airport to Wenchang Garden South and then transfer to Bus Line 85 to Guanjing New Village. Walk about southeast 650m, and you can see the hotel. It takes about 1.5 hours for a single journey.
Asked by LP Chai from SINGAPORE | Sep. 10, 2023 20:46Reply
From Suzhou Railway station to Hotel Soul Suzhou (China, Jiangsu, Suzhou, Gusu District, 215005)

1) Is it very near to the hotel? Can we walk? If yes, how long?
2) If no, which transportation to reach the Hotel? eg bus, Metro , taxi etc
3) Any tourist attraction nearby hotel?

Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by Andrew | Sep. 12, 2023 00:25

1. It is about 3-4 km from the railway station. Walking is not recommended.
2. You can take Metro Line 4 to Chayuanchang Station and get out of the Exit 4 and walk east about 400m to the hotel.
3. There are many gardens nearby like Yi Garden and Suzhou Garden.
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)