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China Travel Themes: Find the parks, temples, beaches, mountains and best of China attractions | Bamboo Compass

Attraction of the week

The Hanyang Mausoleum is the burial site of Han Jingdi, the fourth Han Emperor, and his wife Liu Qi. This subterranean chamber features re-enforced walls, designed to protect the Emperor in his...


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The smallest but most renowned Suzhou garden, the Garden of the Master of Nets (Wǎngshī Yuán, 网师园) welcomes visitors into another world. Lattice windows within the residence perfectly frame scenes of delicate flowers and bamboo outside while elaborate rock gardens complement adjacent fish ponds. Representative of classic Chinese garden design, no distinction is made between the natural or the man-made and the amazing use of space means visitors don't feel crowded, despite the small size. A must-see in Suzhou.

Cold Mountain Temple (Hánshān Sì, 寒山寺), named after a well-respected monk that lived during the short-lived Liang Dynasty, is one of China's most renowned Buddhist temples—mainly in part for its role in several Chinese legends, folk stories and poems by Tang Dynasty poet, Zhang Ji. Today's visitors admire the temple's unique black roof and domed bridge. Other buildings in the temple complex include a Grand Prayer Hall, Sutra-Collection Building, Bell Tower, Fengjiang Pavilion and Tablets Corridor. The surrounding..

Originally built during the Ming Dynasty, Lingering Garden (Liú Yuán, 留园) is a 3 hectare (7 acre) park located 3 km (2 mi) outside of the Suzhou city center. Designed by Zhou Shicheng, a local stone master, Lingering Garden is one of the most historic parks in China, officially named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. In addition to numerous pavilions and towers, the garden features a number of rockeries and small lakes, and the tranquil setting of the gardens has been an inpiration to budding and accomplished..

Situated between Wuxi's rolling hills and the shores of magnificent Tai Lake (Tai Hu), the Plum Garden (Méi Yuán, 梅园) is a sprawling orchard that occupies a prime piece of scenic real estate. There are over 5,000 plum trees in the park, mostly planted in the early 20th century, though a few rogue peach trees date back to the Qing Dynasty. A thoroughly pleasant spot to visit at at any time of year, the Plum Garden really hits its peak in spring when those thousands of tree burst into million pink blossoms as..

Turtle Head Isle Scenic Area (Yuántóuzhǔ, 鼋头渚) is really a narrow peninsula jutting into Tai Lake, which, if you use your imagination, looks like the long craning neck of a turtle. It's primarily a park with some nice, close-up views of the lake. Scenic walking paths, viewpoints, teahouses, boat rides on the lake and the Wuxi Film Studios theme park make up the bulk of the attractions here. The Brightness Pavilion (Guāngmíng Dǐng, 光明顶), sits on an hillside and from its slightly elevated position offers some of the..

Incorporating the two hills Xi Shan (Xī Shān, 锡山) and Hui Shan (Huì Shān, 惠山), Xihui Park (Xīhuì Gōngyuán, 锡惠公园) sits west of town. The top of Xi Shan is the highest point in the park, punctuated by Longguang Pagoda (Lóngguāng Tǎ, 龙光塔)—a rebuilt Ming Dynasty tower with great views of Tai Lake (Tai Hu) and the Grand Canal cutting through Wuxi. The peak can be reached by foot or by cable car. Atop Hui Shan is Hui Temple (Huìshān Sì, 惠山寺), built during the Six Dynasties Period, which is..

Also translated as the Great Wave Pavilion, the Blue Wave Pavilion (Cānglàng Tíng, 沧浪亭) is the oldest of the numerous UNESCO World Heritage site gardens in Suzhou. Built in 1044 by Song Dynasty poet Su Shunqing, on the site of an earlier imperial flower garden (and taking its name from a line by another poet, Qu Yuan), the garden retains its original Song layout, and in its more ramshackle corners looks as if it has perhaps not been tended since that time. Of the various buildings on the site, the largest is the Enlightenment..

Named for the collection of rocks resembling lions, the Lion Grove Garden (Shī Zǐ Lín, 狮子林), or Lion Forest Garden, was built in 1342 during the Yuan Dynasty by a group of Zen Buddhists. For centuries, the garden has welcomed and inspired local writers, poets, and monks. Today, visitors try to lose themselves in the limestone labyrinth, lined with stone lions in different poses. The grounds contain over 20 buildings of various styles built over the centuries. Beautifully carved calligraphy can be found on the grove's large collection..

Less frequented than the other UNESCO gardens in Suzhou, the Couple's Garden (ǒu Yuán, 耦园), sometimes referred to as the Couple's Retreat Garden, was first developed during the 18th century, before being rebuilt by a magistrate from nearby Susong county at the end of the 19th century. Surrounded by canals on three sides, and divided into two parts (the "couple" from which it takes its name), it's a fine place to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the tourist hordes that often overwhelm the more popular gardens. Jiangsu guide |..

Situated in the west of Suzhou, Tiger Hill (Hǔ Qiū, 虎丘) marks the burial ground of He Lu, the father of Suzhou. Atop the hill stands the Tiger Hill Pagoda (Hǔ Qiū Tǎ, 虎丘塔), which the Suzhounese love to compare to the Tower of Pisa. The 1000-year-old pagoda began tilting 400 years ago—a good while after the Pisan Tower and arguably less impressively. The Tiger Hill grounds cover an area of about 14,000 sq m (approx. 3 acres) in total and is home to several historic buildings and landmarks. The burial site of He Lu, entombed here by his..

Yangzhou's most well-known scenic venue is the Slender West Lake (Shòuxī Hú, 瘦西湖), a narrow stretch of water in the northwestern portion of the city named after famous West Lake in Hangzhou. Once known as the Baozhang Canal, the lake formed gradually during the Sui and Tang Dynasties from part of the old city moat just outside the ancient city walls. The literati of Yangzhou gathered on pleasure boats and visited spots of note around the lake. It was also a favorite retreat of the Qing Emperor Qianlong and legend has it..

Situated in a northwestern Yangzhou within the pleasant green northern reaches of Shou Xihu Park, Daming Si has been drawing Buddhist worshippers since the fifth century AD, though much of what you'll see today has been built in more recent times, as this active temple has been expanded. The temple grounds are extensive, encompassing a Memorial Hall to Buddhist monk Jian Zhen, believed to have been the one who brought the faith to Japan, along with a Japanese-style pagoda commemorating Jian's legendary achievement.  In..

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