Tongli Water Town and Suzhou Chinese Gardens Tour

Highlights:

  • Described by Marco Polo as “Heaven on Earth”, explore the beautifully preserved classical gardens and temples of Suzhou, which some consider to be a sort of “Chinese Venice”.
  • Take a visit to the canal town of Tongli, one of China’s most beautiful and best preserved ancient towns
  • To maximize comfort and convenience, for your tour of Suzhou you’ll have your own professional English-speaking guide, driver, and car.

(Lunch included)

Detailed itinerary:

From your hotel in Shanghai, you will be picked at your hotel by your English-speaking travel guide at around 8am, and from there we will make the short drive to the nearby canal and garden town of Suzhou, but on the way there we’ll stop at the water town of Tongli, which is located on the outskirts of Suzhou. Tongli is over 1000 years old and has only recently been changed into a tourist attraction. The town is characterized by stone bridges and well preserved ancient architecture including private gardens, temples and houses.

15 small river lanes crisscrossed the town, over which spans around 49 stone bridges in variety of styles. Bridges are important parts of the town. The most famous bridges among the 49 bridges in Tongli are the three bridges called Taiping (peace), Jili (luck) and Changqing (celebration) bridges, which has been important landmarks of the place and regarded as the sacred architecture by the locals. Whenever there is an important occasion, such as wedding, people would like to walk through the three bridges, which is supposed to bring peace, fortune and happiness in their lives.

Buildings well preserved from the Ming and Qing Dynasties standing by the rivers fill the town. The traditional gardens are well worth seeing. The Tuisi Garden makes a good example. The garden was constructed between 1885 and 1887 by an imperial scholar. In the garden, pavilions, terraces, halls, rockeries, ponds and other elements of the garden were harmoniously integrated together.

After walking along the bridges and taking a look at the historic buildings, we’ll take a cruise through Tongli’s canals, as it is the best way to experience the charms and beauty of this lush and enchanting water village.

Following our time in Tongli we’ll arrive in Suzhou. The city is renowned for its beautiful stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens which have contributed to its status as a great tourist attraction. It is widely known as the “Chinese Venice”.

Our first stop in Suzhou will be the Garden of the Master of the Nets. This is the smallest garden yet supposed to be the most delicate one in the city. The 0.6-hectare garden is an elegant structure of a typical official's residence in the Qing Dynasty. The present garden is found on the former site of a Song dynasty official's mansion. Its owner, an early Qing-dynasty official Song Zongyuan, gave its present name based on the earlier one, "Fisherman's Retreat".

Garden of Master of the Nets consists of a residential quarter and the garden proper. Inside the refined residential quarter, the halls are linked closely by a corridor. The garden, petite but substantial, is focused on a pond and decorated with plants, rocks, pavilions, and stone bridges. The garden is especially fancied by overseas visitors and is praised as the most ornate and intact private gardens in Suzhou. Some tourists even offer a huge amount of money to buy it.

We will then head over to the Panmen Gate. Lying to the southwest of Suzhou, Panmen Gate was built on the base of some historic sites by using the architectural structure of classical gardens. It is famous for its numerous historic relics and abundant human landscapes and has been listed as the National AAAA Tourist Area. Now, Panmen Gate has become a tourist resort showing the unique historic and cultural features of Suzhou. The scenery area, which is centered on Panmen City Gate consists of many scenic spots. Amongst them, Ruiguang Pagoda, Panmen City Gate and Wumen Bridge are praised as 'three fine sceneries'.

Also known as the “land of silk”, Suzhou has long been famed as China leading center of silk producing and manufacturing, and even hosts a silk festival every year. We’ll head for the No.1 Silk Factory to see the technical process of how silk is made, from silk swarm rasing, cocoon sorting, cocoon boiling and cocoon reeling, rewinding and packing. The high-grade silk produced in this factory is the best raw material for the product of high-quality silk fabrics.

Following our visit to the silk factory you will be driven back to Shanghai, and you will be dropped off back at your hotel in the evening.


        Kory Mosher, Macon, GA, USA:

As a student studying abroad in Shanghai, I try to use my off time in seeing the sights in China, and I really loved my tour to Suzhou and Tongli, as it was a great contrast from city life in Shanghai. Tongli is a great little town with canals and beautiful homes, and Suzhou is quite amazing. Probably my favorite part of the trip was the Chinese Sex Museum in Tongli, very interesting! Big thanks to China Adventure Club!