The Venice of the East (Suzhou 蘇州)

If you have visited the Great Wall of China in Beijing, you can’t miss the world’s longest Grand Canal of Suzhou (蘇州). Undisputed the grandest and most beautiful “Venice of the East”, Suzhou is famous for her classical gardens, canals and bridges. Harshad, Tracy and I took 2 days off to visit this magnificent ancient city garden.

Suzhou is only an hour’s train-ride from Shanghai. We got ourselves a very beautiful hotel (Pan Pacific Suzhou), just right beside the 2,500 year old attraction Pan Gate (盘门). In my opinion, Suzhou is certainly more beautiful (and less hilly) than Hangzhou. The ancient Chinese landscapers were amazing! Every element is harmoniously sculptured into the right space. It is taking a stroll in an enchanting 3D Chinese painting. (Honestly, I wonder why the Suzhou government modeled their new city after Singapore in the 90s? For the past 1,000 years, Suzhou has the best ancient gardens in China!)

Spring is the best season to visit Suzhou. The gardens come alive with colorful fishes, flowers and birds. Enjoy a walk or a slow canal cruise under a clear sunny sky and cool spring wind. This is the perfect retreat away from the buzzing and polluted city life. We visited the 1,000-year old Leaning Pagoda of Tiger Hill (虎丘), strolled at the famous Lion Forest Garden (狮子林) and took a 1-hour night cruise through a “under-bridge water art gallery” around the ancient city canal.

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