Suzhou is a city in the east of China, not far from the Taihu Lake, a large freshwater lake in the Yangtze River Delta. Somehow the name is ambiguous because it lies in an administrative area of the same name. The city is home to around four million people, whereas the administrative area, including the satellite cities Kunshan, Taicang, Changshu, and Zhangjiagang, comprises more than ten million. It lies at the Grand Canal, approximately 80 kilometres/50 miles west of Shanghai and is an important transportation hub in the Yangtze River Delta having frequent high-speed rail connections to the north, south and west as well as air connections to other destinations in China. It's one of the cities which are called Venice of the East, another being Wuzhen, which I covered not long ago. Suzhou boosts over 2500 years of history and remained an importance throughout the Han, Song, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Nowadays the city is one of the major tourist attractions in China featuring an UNESCO world heritage site, the Classical Gardens of Suzhou, stone bridges and pathways, pagodas and gardens.

Here are my top five things to do in twenty-four hours for Suzhou:

  • The Humble Administrator's Garden is part of the UNESCO world heritage site called Classical Gardens of Suzhou and is the largest garden in Suzhou, covering 52,000 square meters. It's renowned as one of the finest gardens in south China and features small forests and lakes, rock formations, pavilions and bridges. The admission fee is between 70 and 90 Yuan.
  • The North Temple Pagoda or Beisi Pagoda is a pagoda located within the Bao'en Temple in the north of the old town of Suzhou. The base of the 76 metres/249 feet high tower is shaped octagonal and the history of the structure dates back 1,700 years.
  • Shantang Street is an ancient riverside pedestrian road in the north-west of Suzhou. It stretches for approximately 3.5 kilometres/2.2 miles and features city- and landscapes. Take a stroll, eat some street food, visit the street market and enjoy the beautiful and picturesque scenery of a typical Chinese water town.
  • Pingjiang Road parallels the Pingjiang River and is the old main street of the ancient Suzhou. It's lined by bookshops, teahouses, small theatres, bars and restaurants. Lots of small alleys intersect and various stone bridges cross the canal. It's another picturesque street which you shouldn't miss during your visit of Suzhou.
  • The Momi Café is a small coffee house located on Pingjiang Road. But it's not just a coffee house: books about art, literature and travel are sold here as well as a wide variety of postcards. The postcards are designed by the staff or friends of the staff and have either a Suzhou theme or are art-inspired. A wall with 365 little boxes is located in the lower floor of this branch, there exist other shops in cities across China, instead of sending the postcard immediately you can post it into one of the boxes, one for each day of the upcoming year, and it will be send for you on that day.