Suzhou: blending the old with the new

Suzhou is one of the oldest cities in China, established in 514 BC. The convenient geographical location and successful trade with other regions determined its long existence and prosperity. Even today, Suzhou is one of the richest cities in China and its rich history attracts tourists from all around the world. Another reason for its popularity is its proximity to Shanghai, a global financial hub and historically also one of the major seaports of China. So what are the main attractions in Suzhou and why is it worth visiting this city?

Gardens

The Gardens of Suzhou are well known not only in China, but also all over the world as they are declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Gardens are the main reason for the city’s popularity – if you mention Suzhou anywhere in China people will instantly tell you about the beauty of the gardens. For about the last 2000 years various Chinese scholars created and improved these gardens. The gardens are so beautiful that copies,  such as the Imperial gardens in Chengde Mountain Resort, have been attempted in other parts of China. It can be said that Suzhou’s gardens formed the principles for designing classical Chinese gardens.

The Gardens of Suzhou stand out because of their subtlety and aesthetics: various ponds, pagodas, shapely rocks and flora coexist in harmony with each other. To attract even more visitors various historical events, exhibitions and seasonal festivals (such as the flower blooming festival) are organized frequently. It is said that you haven’t seen Suzhou if you haven’t paid a visit to the most famous gardens: Tiger Hill and the Humble Administrator’s Garden.

 

Tiger Hill - Yunan pagoda

Tiger Hill – Yunan pagoda

 

Tiger Hill

Tiger Hill

 

Pan Gate park - preparations for Mid-Autumn Festival

Pan Gate park – preparations for Mid-Autumn Festival

 

Humble Administrator's Garden - the exhibition

Humble Administrator’s Garden – the exhibition

Humble Administrator's Garden

Humble Administrator’s Garden

 

Canals

Wonderful gardens are not the only attraction unique to Suzhou, known also as the “Venice of China”, as canals run through the entirety of the city. Ancient streets with these canals (ex. Ping Jiang lu and Shang Tang Jie) contain traditional Chinese boats, plenty of shops and bustle with the sounds of ancient folk songs. Other canals have been incorporated into the modern architecture that surrounds it (ex. GanJiang lu).

Traditional Suzhou canal

Traditional Suzhou canal

 

Ganjiang street - canal, surrounded by modern architecture

Ganjiang street – canal, surrounded by modern architecture

 

Suzhou Industrial Park

Blending the old with the new the Suzhou industrial park (SIP) is a new district focused on attracting investments from high tech companies from all over the world. It is the biggest project between the Chinese government and Singapore. One of the world’s top ten biggest ferris wheels, the third biggest screen in the sky, one of biggest buildings in China (Gate to the East), two lakes with artificial islands also make Suzhou very popular attraction.

 

Suzhou Industrial Park - the screen in the sky and Gate to the East in the background

Suzhou Industrial Park – the screen in the sky and Gate to the East in the background

 

Jinji lakte

Jinji lake

Conclusions

Today Suzhou can offer a lot – from cultural attractions (traditional Chinese gardens, ancient streets with canals) to modern attractions (Suzhou industrial park with its shopping centres, culture and expo centre). In addition, Suzhou also offers a thrilling night life, with bar streets and clubs. Bar options range from relatively quiet ones where people gather to chat, to ones where people listen to live music and dance. If you are living or traveling nearby Shanghai, you should undoubtedly include Suzhou to your “must visit” list.

Author: BalticAsia

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