What to do in Suzhou



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...

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..

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,..

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..

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..

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...

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