12 Best Places to Visit in Suzhou for First-time Visitors

Suzhou, praised to be “Oriental Venice” and “Heavenly City on Earth”, is famous for the Chinese classical gardens and water towns. Then what are the best places to visit in Suzhou when you get there? Here we recommend some Suzhou must visits for reference.

Zhouzhuang might be the No.1 among all the water towns in southern China, full of traditional dwelling houses and ancient stone bridges along or over waterways. You may take a local black-awning boat to travel through the crisscross waterways and appreciate the townscapes leisurely. Then, go ashore to visit some ancient residences, which would show how the ancient Chinese dwellings in the south are like. Along the waterside alleys of this Suzhou place of interest, there are also many teahouses and restaurants, where you can take a seat on the higher floor to appreciate the scenery from a different angle while enjoying local delicacies and snacks.

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When talking about Suzhou places to visit, the local name card classical gardens are unmissable. Among them, the Humble Administrator’s Garden is a masterpiece and one of the four bests in whole China. The garden was well-designed so that you would not see the same scenery inside. The winding corridor, carved walls, splendid pavilions, rockeries in the middle of the pond, are all artistic to see. There are flower fairs held there now and then, like azalea in spring, lotus flowers in summer and chrysanthemums in autumn, which add more charm to the place.

 Recommended Tour:   One Day Private Suzhou Classical Gardens Tour from $104
Suzhou Museum is listed among places to go in Suzhou not only because of its rich collections, but also because of its Suzhou-styled venue constructed like a local classical garden, with dark grey roofs, white walls, bamboo woods, rockeries, and ponds inside. You could learn the history of Suzhou from the prehistoric age to the modern time through collections including potteries, bronzes, jades, paintings, and carvings. At the exit of the museum, there is a special architecture complex, Prince Zhong’s Mansion, which is the best-preserved buildings of Taiping Rebellion (1851-1864). The mansion is gorgeous, and the more attractive things are the Suzhou-style colored paintings on the houses.

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Tiger Hill has been a famous Suzhou China points of interest since ancient times. People built pagodas and temples, leave the inscriptions and couplets one generation after another. You could hike around the hill to explore these old remains heartily. The high Huqiu Pagoda is the most eye-catching building on Tiger Hill, which is reputed “oriental leaning tower”. Sword Pool is another site drawing the most of tourists.
Shantang Street is a thousand-year-old street along the Grand Canal, and was one of the busiest streets in Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 - 1911 AD). Nowadays, it is an epitome of old Suzhou, so among the top places to visit in Suzhou China. There are traditional houses and varieties of shops by two sides of the street, selling handicrafts, souvenirs, and local snacks. What’s worth a few more words is that the snacks here are very delicious. Reaching the opera stages, you may stop to watch the interesting performance of Kunqu Opera. When the night falls, the colorful night views of Shantang Street are even more charming to see.
Lion Grove Garden is also a famous classical garden in Suzhou. It was originally an attached garden of a Buddhist temple, which became a private garden later with the ancestral hall, the residence and the courtyard 3 main parts. Out of places of interest in Suzhou, it is especially known for the rockeries. Although it’s not large, you could find rockeries all over the garden. Many rockeries look like lions playing around, hence the name Lion Grove Garden. In addition to enjoying the rockeries through the rockery maze, you can also admire the pavilions, corridors, ponds, plum trees, and ancient stone inscriptions, etc.
Tongli Town is the best known water town in the southern outskirts of Suzhou, with an over 1,000-year-old history. The rivers divide the ancient town into several parts, making the small town like being dotted in water. You can take a walk around this Suzhou place to visit, to enjoy the old residences and the fine gardens hidden here and there. The rickshaws and boats are available, to provide you a unique and comfortable way to travel through the alleys and waterways. Local snacks cannot be missed, as the old streets full of snack shops are very popular.

 Recommended Tour:  Suzhou Mini Group Day Tour from Shanghai from $149
Lingering Garden is also one of China’s four best gardens, hence recommended as Suzhou must go places. It holds diverse sceneries inside. You could enjoy rockeries, water ponds, idyllic settings, woods and courtyards there all at once. Guanyun Peak is the most eye-catching thing in the garden, which is an ancient Taihu Lake stone standing toweringly, in a strange but beautiful shape. You would also appreciate the artistic calligraphy inscriptions, written by famed calligraphers in the past.

 Recommended Tour:  5 Days High Speed Train Tour in Shanghai, Suzhou & Hangzhou from $809
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Guanqian Street

This is the most bustling pedestrian zone in Suzhou, with many time-honored shops and old-timey buildings. This worthy place to see in Suzhou is located in the center of Suzhou Old Town. Getting there, you will find a large number of shops selling various stuff. The fashion clothes are the favorite of people, and the local foods are also the most popular. You may stroll on the street to learn the locals’ life, and try some snacks like seasoned duck and sweet pastries. Along the middle section of Guanqian Street, you can also visit Xuanmiao Taoist Temple, a quaint ancient site with many historical remains.
Mudu Ancient Town, one of best places to visit in Suzhou, is a quaint and peaceful water town. Walking on the streets or cruising on the river, you can visit the multiple gardens, old stone bridges, the temple, and so on. The Garden of Yan Family is the largest garden in Mudu, keeping twenty ancient imperial edicts. The Bangyan Mansion is known for the various carvings of bricks, wood and stones. What’s more, the local dishes and handicrafts of silk, embroideries, wooden carvings, etc. are appealing.
Luzhi Town is also an ancient water town with crisscross rivers, thus many antique bridges were constructed and have been kept well, being famous Suzhou points of interest. These bridges in Luzhi are in various designs. What’s interesting to see is, at multiple sites, two bridges over two rivers meet each other, where you may step from one bridge to another just after a few steps. Other visit-worthy sites there include Baosheng Temple, Wansheng Rice Shop, and Jiangnan Culture Park, which are all good places to experience historical vibes.
With over 1,400 years’ history, Hanshan Temple is a historical site out of Suzhou places to visit. Many Buddhist believers still come here to pray for blessings. In the temple, you would see the ancient gold Buddha statue on the white marble seat, and the celebrities’ inscriptions from the past. To welcome Chinese New Year, the rarely giant bell would be rung for 108 times on the Chinese New Year’s Eve, which is also a distinctive feature of Hanshan Temple.
- Last modified on Jan. 26, 2021 -
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