"Suzhou" Top 5 Page for this destination Suzhou by mke1963

Suzhou Travel Guide: 346 reviews and 1,113 photos

Suzhou is one of China's very special cities, built on a human scale, and still retaining a old-world feel. It presents itself as a city that closely emulates the 'proper' management and presentation of its cultural heritage, although in 2004 the city demolished a significant area of old houses to the west of the Humble Administrator's Garden to make way for a new museum...about old Suzhou. Work that one out!

Suzhou is the closest most visitors will come to classical southern Chinese architecture, as seen in pictures and old movies. It is a city criss-crossed by limpid canals, lined by gardens large and small. Few Chinese cities can match Suzhou for its picturesque streets, courtyards and alleyways, and you would have to travel deep into the Jiangsu or Anhui countryside to find it in the many villages that still maintain these features. It is also one of the few cities that is probably best seen in the drizzling rain, when the canals, looks and pools are rippling under the weeping willows; Suzhou makes good photography easy! More than a hundred of the gardens have survived China's revolutions. It remains focused on all things delicate, whether it is sandalwood fans, silk embroidery or its famed light cuisine. Even today, industry in Suzhou is mainly making fiddly high-tech gadgets and pharmaceuticals rather than big dirty things like railway engines or steel girders.

Suzhou also takes the prize for being China's oldest continuously inhabited city, having been founded during the Spring and Autumn Period as the capital of the Wu state. (770-476BC). It later became the city of Helu, then Suzhou during the Sui Dynasty of 581-618.
It has always remained in the shadows of Nanjing and, more recently, Shanghai, so sparing it some of the excessive ravages of development. However, even here no-one thought twice about putting a six-lane expressway through the old town.
It is a town usually visited quickly, which is a pity: when you come across a laid-back, relaxed town in China it is worth staying a while to take it all in.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful gardens, canals, streets
  • Cons:Can get overcrowded in the peak season
  • In a nutshell:Old world southern China
  • Last visit to Suzhou: May 2004
  • Intro Written Nov 29, 2004
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Reviews (13)

Comments (2)

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    May 27, 2007 at 2:15 AM

    Excellent page - stunning opening shot, informative and personal tips. I loved Suzhou and am sorry to hear about the demolition of some parts since my visit.

  • nepalgoods's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2004 at 10:05 AM

    Excellent an dinformative! I would like to read and sea more...

mke1963

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