Near China’s east coast and bordering Shanghai, Suzhou is a contradiction of classical gardens and ancient canals, next to modern offices and residential developments. However Suzhou’s history of attracting great artists, writers and scholars has made it a cultural hub and well worth a visit.

Suzhou has several gardens that have been UNESCO listed as examples of classical Chinese garden design. The gardens often contain water features, ornate pavilions, tea houses and are often surrounded by walkways to ensure that visitors see the garden from the perfect angle. Look out for bonsai trees, lotus ponds and strangely shaped rocks that have been carefully curated to create a perfect version of nature. The larger gardens can be busy, so head to some of the smaller gardens to experience the serenity the gardens were designed to provide.

You can further experience old style Suzhou in the area around the Pan Gate. At around 2500 years old, this was part of the ancient wall that once protected the city. Sitting next to a canal, with the oldest pagoda in Suzhou nearby as well as a historic bridge, this is widely regarded as one of the most picturesque parts of Suzhou.

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Read more on Suzhou below with flight options, current weather, maps, and activities to try while you are there.

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