Suzhou is a great place for classical Chinese arts—especially the art of the garden (see Attractions for garden listings). In addition, Suzhou is home to excellent museums that can deepen appreciation of China's cultural heritage and make for nice breaks from touring gardens and temples. Classic Chinese performing arts are also well represented, with nightly performances of Chinese opera, folk dance, storytelling and theater taking place in the beautiful Garden of the Master of Nets and other spots around town.
Bars & Clubs
After several years' renovation, Guanqian Lu (Guānqián Lù, 观前路) and Shiquan Jie (Shíquán Jiē, 十全街) have emerged as the places to go for entertainment, food and drink, and shopping. Guanqian Lu is a pleasant pedestrian area. Try Pulp Fiction for darts, billiards and chatty expats, check out Whiskey Jack's for live music or hop to any of the other bars along Shiquan Jie. The Shanghai success story Zapata's—a popular dance club/Tex-Mex restaurant better known for its tequila-fueled revelry and bar-top dancing than it is for its authentic Mexican food—now has a place in Suzhou overlooking Jinji Lake in the business district outside the old city center.
In the spring and autumn months, you can catch performances of Chinese opera, folk dance and theater in the Garden of the Master of Nets every evening at 7:30. For a taste of Suzhou opera, try the Museum of Opera and Theatre. Keep an eye out for male-female duos singing and playing traditional instruments—they can be found at various spots around town, including at the Ping Tan Museum.
Museums & Galleries
The Suzhou Museum showcases ancient paintings, calligraphy, carvings and crafts, and its new wing, designed by native son I.M. Pei, pays homage to traditional Suzhou architecture while making a contemporary statement about China's present. More of Suzhou's rich cultural heritage can be found at the Museum of Opera & Theatre, the Silk Museum and explore Suzhou's history in silk at theSuzhou Silk Factory and Silk Embroidery Institute.
Festivals & Events
Try to catch a temple fair if you're in Suzhou at the right time—The Chang Men Temple Fair celebrates Ya Shenxian in mid-April (the fourteenth day of the Chinese lunar calendar's fourth month)—that's the day one of Taoism's Eight Immortals, Lu Dongbin, comes to town disguised as a mortal. In September and October, the Huqiu Temple Fair showcases folk arts, puppetry, traditional music, acrobatics and wrestling in celebration of the harvest season. The Suzhou Silk Tourist Festival runs from September 20th to 25th. Spring sees a slew of flower festivals in Suzhou city and in the surrounding water towns.
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..
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..
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..
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...