Suzhou is famous for its many exquisite traditional gardens, small canals and long history of high Chinese culture.
Do: The traditional Chinese gardens still are magical places of peace, calm and elegant beauty. The most famous and largest in Suzhou is the Humble Administrator’s Garden. It can get crowded but in the late afternoon or early morning you can still experience its special tranquility. It’s also lovely to do a short canal cruise right from Dongbei street across the garden’s entrance. It ends on Pingjiang Road, a touristy canal-side street where you can get snacks and souvenirs. Right next to the Humble Administrator’s Garden there is the excellent Suzhou Museum, designed by IM Pei. Other nice museums are the Silk Museum and the Art Museum. Lovely is also the Garden of the Master of the Nets and the lesser visited Blue Wave Pavilion Garden.
Eat: Eat the most delicious pan-fried dumplings and noodle soups at Yaba Shengjian on Lindun Road. It can get extremely crowded and there is no English menu but the food is so satisfying. Across the street you find a small bakery that offers delicious pineapple buns.
Getting around: From Shanghai Hongqiao it takes about 45 minutes by train. It’s possible and enjoyable to walk some distances along the old canals and smaller streets, as the city center in-between the Waicheng river is not too vast. But good alternatives are Metro or buses. Y1 and Y4 run along Renmin Road and some others go up Lindun Road on the other side.