- We were here: September 26, 2018.
- Recommended number of days: at least one full day, including overnight stay. Better if they are two.
- My score: I doubt between rating it 3 or 4/5.
Most visitors think Suzhou is a town with canals and gardens and not a full-blown city with almost 6 million inhabitants. The truth is that it is both, being interesting in its historic center, which has remained surrounded by the old rectangular canal, trying in recent years to destroy as little as possible its classic houses and keeping it out of reach of large glass skyscrapers. It is the place with the most beautiful traditional Chinese gardens and only for that reason it is worth a visit, that is something beyond doubt. What causes me doubts about whether or not I would repeat a visit is the fact that although undeniably harmonious and beautiful, these gardens are similar to each other, so it is not necessary to explore every one of the most recommended, even more so if we have already gone to Yuyuan garden in Shanghai. But that they resemble does not mean they are the same, and besides they are not the only thing in this city:
- The most famous is the Humble Administrator’s, very spacious, it is the largest and most complete; It has many types of plants, constructions made of gray stone in impossible shapes, bridges over ponds, small buildings of different styles with ornate windows in its walls and a huge bonsai garden, which certainly were not invented in Japan, but in China, and its original name is penjing. It is located next to Suzhou Museum, one of the main attractions of the city. Other similar and very well considered are the Lion Forest, the Lingering Garden or the Master of Nets.
- Quite different are Tiger Hill, several kilometers northwest of the center and which looks more like a park with a large pagoda, and the Panmen Gate Scenic Area, a very open garden with another large pagoda, an impressive central pond and the restored Panmen gate together with a part of the old wall. Both are next to canals.
- And it is that the water masses are the second great attraction in Suzhou:
- While the most scenic canal, the northernmost part of the west of the Grand Canal, is closed to boats as of the writing of this article, these have been diverted to the second best part, Shantang Canal, which flows in the direction to Tiger Hill. Another one that is not navigated but is a favorite for pedestrians is Pingjiang, in the center-east of the historic center. Surrounded by old houses, the vision of the canals, especially when they are illuminated at night, is moving and peaceful.
- With contemporary sculptures, colorful fountains and some of the most distinctive skyscrapers in the city, but respecting large areas of relaxation, the huge Jinji Lake, several kilometers east of the center, can be as quiet or as busy as we want.
- And the third point in favor of Suzhou is that it is the best base for day trips to old villages, and this time they do are villages, with canals, among which Luzhi and above all Tongli, where since recently you can go by metro, although it takes an hour to go and another to return, and beware, in both have to pay to enter.
Well, with this I have clarified my doubts, I rate it 4/5 because now I realize that I did not spend enough time, I’ll have to go back.
WHAT TO DO
- NORTH TEMPLE PAGODA AND HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR’S GARDEN
- PANMEN GATE SCENIC AREA
- WHEN TO GO
- DANGERS AND PROBLEMS