29
Nov 2016
0
Architecture & Landscape Architecture, landscape architecture, Travel by Design
Suzhou

Suzhou is one of the oldest cities in China. It is also often called Venice of the East, thanks to its abundance of canals. Famous for its beautiful gardens, gorgeous stone bridges, and majestic pagodas, Suzhou has successfully retained much of its traditional look and essence. It is one of the top 24 historical and cultural cities in China, with the classic gardens of Suzhou earning a place in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Suzhou has an abundance of canals

Suzhou has an abundance of canals

To get to Suzhou, head to the Shanghai Railway Station (not to be confused with the South Station) and get yourself a ticket to Suzhou. The bullet train is the fastest way to get there and for the time you will be able to save, is reasonably priced. If you need to be back to Shanghai on the same day, it is better to buy your return ticket once you arrive in Suzhou. 

There are more than 60 gardens in Suzhou to explore, but if you’re pressed for time, you must at least see the Lingering Garden. This Chinese landscape garden design masterpiece integrates art, nature, and ideas to create ensembles of great beauty and peaceful harmony. And of course, there is Tiger Hill, the most popular destination in Suzhou. It is known for its natural beauty as well as its historical sites. The hill is named as such because of its resemblance to a crouching tiger. The Yunyansi Pagoda stands on this hill and is the symbol of ancient Suzhou. With its seven floors and eight sides, this brick pagoda was completed in 961 AD and was put in the protection list of national historical relics in 1961. The hill has been a tourist destination for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, as is evident from the poetry and calligraphy carved into rocks on the hill. There is also an amazing exhibition of penjing, which are potted landscapes and miniature trees and rockery created in the Chinese art of growing plants and trees that are kept small by skilled pruning to create the complex illusion of age (did you know that Japan’s bonsai is derived from penjing?).

Tiger Hill

Tiger Hill

If you would like to learn the basics of penjing/bonsai care, read this article

There is an old street that runs along the grand canal called Shan Tang Jie. The old Shan Tang Jie was originally built in year 825 and has thereby experienced about 2000 years of the elements. You can choose to explore this charming village– walk on century old pavements and board a boat along the canal. Stop by arts and crafts stores as well as dining establishments if you still have time.

Seven-Mile Shantang

Seven-Mile Shantang

Tip: Have the destinations you want to go to in Chinese–either stored as a file in your phone or printed on paper.

 


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