Suzhou Introduction Walking Tour, Suzhou

Suzhou Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Suzhou

"Above there is heaven; below there is Suzhou (and Hangzhou)." Often spoken of in conjunction with Hangzhou, another picturesque city in China, Suzhou is located in the eastern part of the country and is colloquially referred to as the "Water Town of the East," renowned for its waterways and classical gardens, together creating an idyllic setting.

As the cradle of Wu culture, the city boasts a rich heritage dating back to the Zhou period (the longest dynastic regime in Chinese history, from 1046 BC to 256 BC). The legendary Zhou lord Taibo established the state of Wu in the 11th century BC, fostering agriculture and irrigation skills among the locals. This laid the foundation for what would become Suzhou.

The present name, "Suzhou", which translates to "Su Prefecture," is derived from the Sui dynasty, in 589 AD, with "Su" being a contraction of the old name "Gusu," signifying a "Satisfied place" in the Old Yue language. The term "zhou" originally referred to a province or county but was often used to denote the capital of such regions.

Suzhou's importance grew further when the Grand Canal was completed, establishing it as a hub for trade. During the Tang dynasty, in 825 AD, poet Bai Juyi constructed the Shan Tang Canal (better known as "Shan Tang Street"), connecting the city with Tiger Hill.

Over the years, Suzhou saw periods of turmoil, including the Taiping Rebellion, but it rebounded to prosperity. Suzhou became a vital source of tax revenue, overseeing the Yangtze shoals that later became part of Shanghai. In the late 19th century, Suzhou opened to foreign trade, attracting expatriates and witnessing the rise of its silk industry and publishing sector.

Despite facing destruction during World War II and Japanese occupation, Suzhou's historical sites, such as the Humble Administrator's Garden and the Lingering Garden, underwent restoration in the early 1950s, preserving the city's rich heritage.

Today, Shan Tang Street and Guan Qian Street beckon with their bustling marketplaces, where one can discover a myriad of local delicacies, souvenirs, and cultural treasures. The Suzhou Silk Museum is another must-visit destination, providing insights into the city's illustrious silk industry, which has thrived for centuries.

As you explore Suzhou's enchanting attractions, you are bound to get an experience like no other. Intrigued by the allure of Suzhou? Embark on a self-guided journey to this captivating city and witness its historical marvels and cultural treasures firsthand.
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Suzhou Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Suzhou Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: China » Suzhou (See other walking tours in Suzhou)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
Author: leticia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Classical Chinese Garden
  • Shan Tang Street
  • Suzhou Silk Museum
  • Humble Administrator's Garden
  • Suzhou Museum
  • Lion Grove Garden
  • Guan Qian Street
  • Great Wave Pavilion (Canglang Pavilion)
  • Pan Gate
Classical Chinese Garden

1) Classical Chinese Garden (must see)

The Chinese garden, also known as a Chinese classical garden, recreates natural landscapes in miniature. The style has evolved for more than three thousand years, and includes both the vast gardens of the Chinese emperors and smaller gardens built by scholars, poets, and former government officials.

The classical Chinese garden is enclosed by a wall and has one or more ponds, a rock garden, trees and flowers, and an assortment of halls and pavilions within the garden, connected by winding paths and zig-zag galleries. By moving from structure to structure, visitors can view a series of carefully-composed scenes, unrolling like a scroll of landscape paintings.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Shan Tang Street

2) Shan Tang Street (must see)

Shan Tang Street is an old street, which houses a number of ancient buildings (some of which were occupied by prominent individuals from the various dynasties). The street stretches for approximately 2.5 kilometers and is a prime venue for shopping.
Suzhou Silk Museum

3) Suzhou Silk Museum (must see)

The Suzhou Silk Museum is a museum in Suzhou, China. It documents the history of silk production and Suzhou embroidery from around 2000 BC. Exhibits include old looms with demonstrations, samples of ancient silk patterns, and an explanation of sericulture. Of major note is a room full of live silk worms, eating mulberry leaves and spinning cocoons. By December, 2009, the live silkworms had been replaced with models.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Humble Administrator's Garden

4) Humble Administrator's Garden (must see)

The Humble Administrator's Garden is a renowned Chinese garden in Suzhou. At 51,950 m2, it is the largest garden in Suzhou and is generally considered to be the finest garden in all of southern China. In 1997 it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.

Today's garden is only very loosely related to its earliest version, but maintains its late Qing appearance, with numerous pavilions and bridges set among a maze of connected pools and islands. It consists of three major parts set about a large lake: the central part (Zhuozheng Yuan), the eastern part (Dwelling Upon Return to the Countryside), and a western part (the Supplementary Garden).

In total, the garden contains 48 different buildings with 101 tablets, 40 stelae, 21 precious old trees, and over 700 Suzhou-style penjing/penzai. Eastern Garden Composed of a few buildings around a central great lawn and pond combination. Central Garden is composed of many scenes arranged around the Surging Wave Pond. Within the pond three islands recreate the scenery of the fariy islands of the east sea.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Suzhou Museum

5) Suzhou Museum

The Suzhou Museum is a museum of ancient Chinese art, ancient Chinese paintings, calligraphies, and hand-made crafts, situated in Suzhou, Jiangsu, People's Republic of China. It is free to visit.

In 1960 the Museum was founded and first open to the public in the former residence of the Zhong Prince of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom.

The current building of Suzhou Museum was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei in association with Pei Partnership Architects. Construction of this building started in 2002. It was inaugurated on October 6, 2006.

The museum has a display area of 2,200 square meters. It has more than 15,000 pieces in its collections. Most are ancient paintings and calligraphy, ceramics, crafts, unearthed relics and revolution relics. It also possesses more than 70,000 books and documents, and over 20,000 rubbings of stone inscriptions. The collection of paintings and calligraphy includes works of masters from Song Dynasty to Ming and Qing dynasties.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Lion Grove Garden

6) Lion Grove Garden

The Lion Grove Garden is famous for the large and labyrinthine grotto of taihu rock at the garden's center. The name of the garden derives from the shape of these rocks which are said to resemble lions. It is recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The 1.1 ha garden is divided into two main parts, a housing complex and rockery around a central pond. In addition to the 22 buildings the garden also houses: 25 tablets, 71 stelae, 5 carved wooden screens, and 13 ancient specimen trees, some dating back to the Yuan dynasty.

The garden is most famous for its elaborate grotto of Taihu stone. This 1154 m2 grotto contains a maze of 9 paths winding through 21 caves across 3 levels. The pond divides the grotto into east and west sections. The taihu stone peaks are located atop this grotto. Most famous is the Lion Peak surrounded by four other stones which collectively form the Famous Five Peaks. There is a folktale about two immortals, Iron-Crutch Li and Lü Dongbin who wandered into the maze of the Lion Grove and being unable to exit settled in a cave to play chess.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Guan Qian Street

7) Guan Qian Street (must see)

Guanqian Street is located in Suzhou city center, an area covering 0.52 square kilometers, the commercial part of the city.

The location of this 150-year-old street lying in front of the Xuanmiao Taoist temple explains its name, which means "before a temple". The street running 760 meters long, consists of the eastern, middle and western sections. The eastern part is filled with nice ancient buildings of historical significance. The middle is mainly the temple and fashionable shops occupy the western part.

There are hundreds of shops, restaurants, bars, stores and clubs in old fashioned structures surrounded by colorful signs and neon lights along the street.

An old laneway leads to the gate of the temple while the Guanqian pedestrian street lies just ahead of it.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Great Wave Pavilion (Canglang Pavilion)

8) Great Wave Pavilion (Canglang Pavilion)

The Great Wave Pavilion is located at 3 Cāng Làng Tíng Jie. It is recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Great Wave Pavilion was built in 1044 CE by the Song Dynasty poet Su Shunqing (1008–1048), on the site of a pre-existing imperial flower garden c 960 CE. It is the oldest of the UNESCO gardens in Suzhou, keeping its original Song Dynasty layout. The 1.6 (ha) garden is divided into two main sections. The garden is sited on a branch of the Fengxi Stream which forms a lotus pond. The garden has 108 leaky windows each one with a unique design.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Pan Gate

9) Pan Gate

Pan Gate, Pan Men, Panmen or Panmen Gate is a famous historical landmark in Suzhou. It is located on the south-west corner of the Main Canal or encircling canal of Suzhou. Originally built during the Warring States Period in the state of Wu, historians estimate it to be around 2,500 years old. It is now part of the Pan Gate Scenic Area. Pan Gate is part of the ancient city wall built in 514 B.C. that surrounded and protected Suzhou. Pan Gate was the only entrance to the wall that surrounded ancient Suzhou. It is also known in China for its architecture. It is so famous for its complex of both land and water city gates that many times, people directly refer to it as the "Land and Water Gate". In order to attract more tourists, in recent years, the city of Suzhou has renovated the old wall and built many other attractions around the original gate in the Pan Gate Scenic Area. The present Pan Gate was built in the 11th year of the reign of Zhizheng in the end of the Yuan Dynasty.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Suzhou, China

Create Your Own Walk in Suzhou

Create Your Own Walk in Suzhou

Creating your own self-guided walk in Suzhou is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Central Suzhou

Central Suzhou

Downtown Suzhou is a mix of modern business hub and historic area where time seems to have frozen. Among the attractions worth visiting here are The Suzhou Police Museum, Dinghui Temple, Twin Pagodas, Xuanmiao Temple, and lively Guan Qian Street, all located within a walking distance from each other in the heart of the city.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.0 Km or 3.7 Miles