When planning to travel in the Shanghai area, I was sure I wasn’t too interested in spending too much time in Shanghai itself, while its neighbouring Suzhou and Hangzhou fascinated me far more with their history, lovely waterside spots, laid back lifestyle.
We decided to stay in a hotel in Suzhou, which was the best decision. The hotel was located near the South gate of the old city, 3 mins from the metro station, which was extremely convenient.
We fell in love with the city from the start, when we saw the beautiful bus stops.
I wanted to see and do a lot, but with only one day here, we had to limit ourselves. So here is a possible guide on what to do in Suzhou, if you only have a day:
Visit the oldest garden – Canglang pavilion. This garden affected us a lot. Maybe the reason was that it wasn’t big, it was compact and cute. Or maybe because we visited very early in the morning, soon after opening and we walked around before any loud tour groups arrived. Whatever the reason, we absolutely adored this beautiful garden. The other gardens we visited had completely different vibes.
We spotted this man working in peace in a pavilion and decided not to disturb him.
Pingjiang Road – we walked around for hours. We came from south, metro station Xiangmen. The vibes on this street are lovely. You will find locals and tourists here. This area is obviously touristy, but so beautiful. You will notice some people wearing traditional clothes and posing for photos, the boats with singing boatmen, the cute shops and cafes with beautiful scarves and fans and tea, the small bridges with postcard-worthy views. we couldn’t help but marvel at all the cute things around.
Don’t miss the Momicafe. There are two branches on the street, they sell books, beautiful souvenirs and tasty cakes. The environment is wonderful for spending nice time here.
The small boats on the canal have two locations they leave from – one is farther north, another somewhere in the middle of the road. I suggest to take a boat from the middle, as they run in the south section, which is quieter and more picturesque. The north part is more crowded, as it is closer to the Humble Administrator’s garden and more tourists go there.
One boat ride will cost 180 yuans for 1-6 persons. You can hire the whole boat or share it with others, as you prefer. You technically need to wear the life vest, but you can take it off at times.
We adored our boatman, he was absolutely nice. With the translate apps, he “told” us that he was collecting money from around the world, so we found small coins and paper money from Georgia to give him for his collection. This made him very happy. The boatmen generally offer their customers to sing, for this you will have to pay 20 yuan. We obviously opted in for this and it was a very nice experience. I wholeheartedly recommend doing this.
We didn’t wanna leave the canals, but it was getting later in the day and we still had to see Humble Administrator’s garden and Lion Grove garden.
The Humble Administrator’s garden is expensive at 90 yuan per person with no discounts. It was extremely crowded, when we visited. Yes, the views are absolutely breathtaking, but the loud tour groups and huge numbers of people were overwhelming. So we didn’t spend too much time there, just walked around the main areas, visited the Bonsai trees area, took pictures with beautiful lakes and pavilions and left.
Next on was Lion Grove garden. This one we absolutely loved. Even though we were already tired from so many new experiences, we came alive while getting lost in the stone maze of this beautiful garden. I suggest to wander around without aim for a while. Do be careful, as the stairs can be slippery at times and enjoy yourself.
After visiting the gardens, it was already dark and the canals were lighted. We found some food nearby and sat at the canal enjoying the view. Then we walked towards metro, to the south of the canal and headed to another canal area in the west – Shangtang road. This area was beautiful with lighted lanterns. If you want to buy anything, keep in mind that things are, for some reason, more expensive here. The same simple souvenirs we bought in Xi’an were triple the price. I do advice to visit this part in the evening, as we did, and spend daylight hours visiting other attractions.
Btw boats run here as well, but the canals are not as nice as along Pingjiang road and the boats are also far bigger and not remotely as nice.
This was a perfect day in Suzhou. I will definitely come back to visit other gardens, water towns and to just enjoy this amazing city. I would love to visit Lingering garden, Master of Nets garden and Tiger hill at the very least 😊