Humble Administrator’s Garden

Suzhou City in Jiangsu Province, only about 30 minutes by subway from Shanghai, would be a very interesting destination for tourists who love historical sites as well as long-standing traditional crafts. With more than 2,500 years of existence and development, Suzhou City still retains its ancient features with the famous Grand Canal and ancient gardens known as gardening masterpieces of China and the world. Tongli country is known as the Venice of the East. So, what to do in Suzhou? Let’s check out our top rated 10+ top things to do in Suzhou, fun things to do in Suzhou and best things to do in Suzhou as follows!

Suzhou cityscape from Jinji Lake | best things to do in suzhou
Lingering Garden–a popular destination for classical gardening enthusiasts | best things to do in suzhou
Tongli Town on the outskirts of Suzhou is known as the Venice of China. | best things to do in suzhou
Learn about traditional craft at Silk Factory No. 1 | best things to do in suzhou
Sweet and sour squirrel Mandarin fish is a must-try dish in Suzhou

In this post, we will introduce the 10+ best things to do in Suzhou if you have the opportunity to visit this city.

Cruise on the Suzhou Grand Canal and visit the old town (# best things to do in suzhou)

Suzhou Grand Canal | best things to do in suzhou

As a vital transportation route connecting Beijing and Hangzhou, the Suzhou Grand Canal was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2014. Its construction began during the Spring and Autumn period (770 BC-453 BC) and was finally completed during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Suzhou Grand Canal has been a golden waterway for thousands of years, contributing a very important part to the prosperous development of Suzhou City today.

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Currently, about 6,000 boats pass through the canal, making the Suzhou area the busiest on the entire Grand Canal. This is the area connecting the Pan Gate, Xu Gate, and Jin Gate from ancient times to protect the stronghold of the ancient Suzhou people. Today, it has become a tourist route that attracts many tourists with multiple interesting stops along the journey on the Grand Canal in Suzhou.

Boat tour at the Grand Canal Suzhou | best things to do in suzhou

A great thing about the Grand Canal tour is that visitors can choose to cruise both during the day and at night. During the day, visitors can see the ancient city gates that are thousands of years old and the semicircular stone bridges that still stand tall. At night, when all the city lights are on, you will admire a shimmering, magical scene and the vibrant bustle of the old towns along the canal.

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  • Estimate cost: 120 RMB/person (depending on the boathouse)
  • Estimate tour time: 40–60 minutes per tour

Visit Tiger Hill (# top things to do in suzhou)

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Tiger Hill is a complex of famous historical relics and natural landscapes in Suzhou and is ranked as a national AAAAA tourist attraction. Here, the famous saying of poet Su Shi is still passed down by word of mouth, “What a lifetime pity it is if you have been to Suzhou without a visit to Tiger Hill,” as a firm confirmation of the enchanting beauty of this place. Some highlights of Tiger Hill you can visit include:

Tiger Hill Pagoda (# best things to do in suzhou)

The pagoda is thousands of years old and is a symbol of Suzhou because according to some research, it may have been built since the founding of Suzhou. As the oldest and largest temple south of the Yangtze River, Tiger Hill Pagoda has really important historical, cultural, and architectural significance in ancient China. The pagoda located on a high hill has an angle of four degrees to the North, so it is also referred to as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in China, although in fact, it is much older than the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. Many antiques found in the pagoda are now displayed at the Suzhou Museum.

Credit: pngtree | best things to do in suzhou

Sword Testing Stone and Sword Pool

These two relics are associated with a very interesting legend. Legend has it that in the past, King Helu had a hobby of collecting good swords in the world and this sword-testing stone was cut in half when the emperor found a satisfactory sword. The Sword Pool here is said to have 3,000 swords buried with King Helu. In addition, when viewed from above, the pool is also shaped like a sword, hence its name.

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Broken Beam Hall (Duan Liang Dian)

Broken Beam Hall is a single-porch building constructed of wood and bamboo that dates back over 600 years to the Yuan Dynasty, with stone slabs inside recording the construction and restoration of Tiger Hill.

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Thousand People Stone (Qian Ren Shi) (# top things to do in suzhou)

A rather large rock has existed for a long time in Tiger Hill with the special feature that every time it rains, the rock will turn blood red. Legend has it that 1,000 workers participated in building King Helu’s tomb here and his son was afraid that the secret would be revealed. So, he killed all the workers at this stone and the stone later turns red every time it rains. In addition to the above relics, the classic natural scenery here is also great for taking a relaxing walk.

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  • Estimate visit time: 2–3 hours
  • Ticket price: 80 RMB in high season and 60 RMB in low season

Stroll around Tongli water town (# what to do in suzhou)

Tongli water town | top things to do in suzhou

Tongli Town is a very popular tourist destination located in the southern suburbs of Suzhou. With a history of more than 1,000 years, this town still retains its ancient character with classic houses, stone bridges, and an intricate waterway transportation system that is reminiscent of Venice.

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There are up to 15 small canals weaving throughout the town and 49 bridges with many shapes still preserved intact, many ancient houses and beautiful traditional gardens that have existed for hundreds of years are the highlights when visiting this town. Visitors can choose to take a boat trip through the small canals around town or stroll down the narrow stone alleys built during the Ming and Qing dynasties to enjoy the cramped but peaceful space of the old town. Or you can simply immerse yourself in the quiet atmosphere of the gardens before enjoying authentic Suzhou meals.

Poetic beauty of Suzhou | top things to do in suzhou
Tongli Bridge | top things to do in suzhou
  • Ticket price: 100 RMB valid for 2 days with 10 main attractions. Free for children under 1m4.
  • If you want to go sightseeing, you can book a boat for 90 RMB for about 30 minutes.

Explore classical gardens (# fun things to do in suzhou)

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Suzhou is a city famous for its 60 surviving classical gardens, nine of which are recognized by UNESCO as “of outstanding universal value.” The city is also a top destination for traditional gardening enthusiasts.

Humble Administrator’s Garden | top things to do in suzhou
Master of the Nets Garden
Lingering Garden | top things to do in suzhou

Some typical gardens in Suzhou that visitors can choose from are the Humble Administrator’s Garden, Lingering Garden, Master of the Nets Garden, and so on. They are the pinnacle in the design of private gardens in Suzhou with a lifespan of more than 500 years. These large gardens are considered to still fully preserve and maintain ancient perspectives such as lakes, observation houses, and rockeries that are skillfully arranged among diverse ornamental plants. Along with that, traditional music performances are held regularly which will help you have a relaxing time when visiting these attractions.

Admire the modern beauty at Suzhou Industrial Park

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The Suzhou metropolitan area extends beyond the moats surrounding the city’s old quarters. Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) is home to the city’s most modern hotels and commercial areas, located along the vast Jinji Lake. Prominent in this area is the W Hotel Suzhou, inaugurated in 2017, which is considered an impressive architectural style representing the new Suzhou architecture.

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Vibrant Suzhou Industrial Park at night | fun things to do in suzhou

There are many interesting night activities taking place here. Every Saturday night, many tourists gather on the banks of Jinji Lake to watch the water music show organized by the city. Many restaurants and bars on the rooftops of high-rise buildings are ideal destinations to fully enjoy the perfectly mixed performance of water, light, and music.

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Besides, Suzhou entertainment areas and commercial centers are also the choice of many tourists at night. But if you don’t want to spend the night at a crowded place, you can rent a boat to travel around Jinji Lake and observe the modern center of Suzhou at a distance.

Visit Suzhou Museum

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Suzhou Museum is home to about 15,000 important artifacts, representing all cultural aspects of Suzhou. Some of them date back more than 1,000 years, such as the Celadon lotus-shaped bowl and the jade pillar of the Buddha Temple, along with other antiques such as ancient paintings, calligraphy, porcelain, and precious gemstones that will help you understand more about this ancient city.

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Credit: Uncube Magazine
| fun things to do in suzhou

In addition, the museum with modern architecture is considered a new architectural symbol of Suzhou with two separate areas built on the foundation of the former residence of General Li Zhong, one of the three great ministers in history. In addition to the four permanent exhibition spaces, you can also participate in several folk exhibitions to experience local customs.

Explore Suzhou’s traditional silk factory

Suzhou Traditional Silk Factory | fun things to do in suzhou

Suzhou silk has long been famous for its high quality and long history, contributing greatly to the formation of the world-famous Silk Road. Silk Factory No. 1 was established in 1926 and now serves as a museum of traditional crafts, helping visitors have a detailed look at the elaborate process of interesting silk production.

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Visiting the factory, visitors will have the opportunity to learn in detail about the thousands of years of silk history and culture in Suzhou and China and witness firsthand the production process from raising silkworms to spinning and weaving silk most intuitively. Then, you can choose your favorite items made at the factory as souvenirs with reasonable prices and diverse types.

Experience Suzhou’s exquisite cuisine

Exquisite cuisine of Suzhou | fun things to do in suzhou

Suzhou cuisine emphasizes the freshness of ingredients and elaborate preparation, making it a favorite of Emperor Qianlong. Most of the dishes here use locally available ingredients including shrimp, fish, freshwater crabs, and seasonal vegetables with a somewhat sweeter taste than other regions of China.

Shredded eel at Songhelou Restaurant
Squirrel Mandarin fish–a specialty of Suzhou
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A traditional meal here often includes many dishes served at the same time, so it will be very convenient if you dine with a large group or with family. Many traditional restaurants in Suzhou are hundreds of years old. You can visit floating restaurants along the shores of Taihu Lake in Pingjiang District to enjoy a traditional meal.

Learn about traditional embroidery in Suzhou

Traditional embroidery in Suzhou

The art of Suzhou embroidery, also known as Su Xiu, has a history of more than 2,000 years and is one of the important traditional crafts of China. It displays one of the arts of ancient women and is also used widely in people’s daily lives in the past.

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Su Xiu (Su Embroidery)

To learn about traditional embroidery, you can visit the Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute where you can see rare preserved embroidery samples as well as observe craftsmen at work with unimaginable perseverance. Some works take months or even years to complete.

In addition to classic embroidery patterns such as clouds, flowers, and birds, you will find some portraits and landscapes that look like photographs on display, and visitors can buy them as souvenirs.

Watch a Kun Opera performance or a Pingtan performance

To better understand the local culture, enjoying Kun Opera or Pingtan performances is something you should do in Suzhou. Suzhou opera, also known as Kunqu, is one of the oldest traditional performing arts in Suzhou. With a history of more than 600 years, this form of art was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2001. To bring the best theatrical effect and artistic beauty, the performance focuses on delicate makeup, gentle and graceful singing, and elegant actions, combined with traditional music. It is truly a sumptuous audio and visual feast for those who love to explore this unique genre of art.

Kun Opera in Suzhou

An art form that came into existence later, more simple and closely related to people’s lives, is Pingtang performances. This is storytelling combined with light music performed in the Suzhou dialect, which was invented about 400 years ago. The performances usually feature two artists playing the zither and lute and telling daily stories or romantic, traditional love stories from the past. Visitors can watch these performances at the gardens or teahouses in Suzhou.

A Pingtan performance

However, the fact that Suzhou City does not have an airport will be an obstacle for many people. But for true travel enthusiasts, all the impressive spots, unique traditional culture, and rich cuisine will make your stay in Suzhou longer than you think. With the 10+ activities that have been mentioned above, we hope that you will have a fulfilling trip to Suzhou and enjoy all the special things of this wonderful city.

Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Suzhou you can refer to

Are you looking for more top things to do in Suzhou: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here. And China here.