Suzhou Museum

As a center of China’s trade, education, and recreation during imperial era, Suzhou is the place with many striking cultural highlights. Before visiting some classic gardens in Suzhou, let’s spend time in Suzhou Museum first to understand this town’s culture and history. Designed by a Chinese-American architect I.M.Pei, this museum is the combination of Suzhou’s traditional garden architecture and modern art in an area of over 10,000 square meters. This museum displays more than 30,000 historical and cultural relics including ancient paintings, porcelains, calligraphies, and other precious crafts made from jade and gold. Suzhou Museum is very close to Humble Administrator’s Garden and Lion Grove Garden.

Humble Administrator’s Garden

Built during Ming Dynasty (500 years old), Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest classic garden in Suzhou. It is really gorgeous with lush trees, elegant pavilions, romantic ponds and winding paths. Humble Administrator’s Garden can be divided into three parts: Eastern Garden, Central Garden and Western Garden. Eastern Garden is spacious with four main attractions: Orchid and Snow Hall (Lan Xue Tang), Pinery Lawn, Heavenly Spring Pavilion (Tianquan Pavilion) and the Cymbidium Goeingii Hall. The Central Garden is the most elite part of Humble Administrator’s Garden. One-third of its area is covered by water where you can take pictures of lotuses blooming in summers. Lastly, Western Garden is beautiful with many old buildings, hills and ponds.

Lingering Garden

Famous for its exquisite architectural art, Lingering Garden has a long history of over 400 years ago. Lingering Garden contains four main sections: Eastern Garden, Central Garden, Western Garden, and Northern Garden. The Central Garden is the most worth-visiting part since it is the most ancient section. With artificial mountains and lakeside scenery, Central Garden looks like an old Chinese painting. Lingering Garden is recognized as UNESCO Heritage site in 1997.

Master of the Nets Garden

Built during the Qing Dynasty (1636-1911), Master of the Nets Garden is the smallest garden in Suzhou – one-tenth the size of Humble Administrator’s Garden. Formerly, this garden belonged to an official under Song Dynasty (960-1279). Song Zongyuan, an official during Qing Dynasty, bought and restored this garden in 1765. This garden contains three parts: the residential section, the main garden and the inner garden. The main garden is pristine with ancient pavilions, intact pathways and rustic ponds.

Tongli Ancient Town

Built during Song Dynasty (over 1000 years ago), Tongli Ancient Town was originally called Futu (means ‘a prosperous land’ in English). It is 10 kilometers from the center of Suzhou and is one of the most popular ancient towns along Yangtze River’s bank, together with Nanxun, Wuzhen, Xitang, Zhouzhuang and Yongzhi. Tongli Ancient Town is praised as ‘the Oriental Venice’ due to its elegant architecture and rich culture. Ancient Bridges, Residential Houses and Tuisi Garden are interesting spots where you should take some photos. There are 55 ancient bridges in Tongli, which adds a rustic feature to this old town. The three most famous ones are Taiping Bridge, Jili Bridge and Changqing Bridge.

Zhouzhuang Water Town

30 kilometers from the Southeast of Suzhou, Zhouzhuang Water Town is a famous tourist attraction when traveling to Suzhou and Shanghai. Built in Ming and Qing Dynasty, currently this town still preserved more than 100 old houses with courtyards. Shen’s House, Zhang’s House and Ye Chucang’s Residence are where you can appreciate the elegance of Chinese classic architecture. Moreover, waterside lanes and the system of stone bridges have contributed to the beauty of Zhouzhuang Water Town. Twin Bridges, Fu’an Bridge, Zhenfeng Bridge and Fuhong Bridge are three most romantic bridges here. Taking a cruise along the town is the best way to appreciate its beauty.