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Hangzhou or Suzhou: Which Is Best for You to See?

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Nov. 21, 2023
Suzhou Old TownBoth Hangzhou and Suzhou enjoy beautiful scenery.

There is an old Chinese saying that describes the beauty of Hangzhou and Suzhou: "In heaven there is paradise, on Earth there is Hangzhou and Suzhou". Some people wonder how to choose between Hangzhou and Suzhou when planning a trip to China and which one is better. Read on to find the answers.

Both Hangzhou and Suzhou are filled with beautiful attractions. Hangzhou is renowned for West Lake and its activities to experience the tea culture there. Suzhou is renowned for its classic gardens and water towns with quieter environments.

Here are detailed reasons for touring Hangzhou and Suzhou that will help you make a decision when you have no idea how to choose between the two.

This chart helps you quickly understand the characteristics of Hangzhou and Suzhou:

  Hangzhou Suzhou
Highlights West Lake
Tea culture
Classic gardens
Water towns
Activities Boating, biking
Tea culture experience
Watch the Impression West Lake show
Boating, rickshaw ride
Watch a Kun opera performance
Distance from Shanghai 50 minutes – 1¼ hours by bullet train 30–45 minutes by bullet train
Suggested length of stay 1–2 days 1 day

Reasons to Tour Hangzhou

West Lake Is the Highlight of Hangzhou

West Lake is the most famous scenic spot in Hangzhou and one of the important reasons why Hangzhou is famous all over the world. It attracts millions of tourists from both home and abroad every year due to its beautiful scenery.

There are three ways to tour West Lake. Walk or bike around it, paddle a boat on the lake, or circle the lake in a battery car. You can choose your preferred way. At night, there is a wonderful show on the lake.

Hangzhou's Longjing Tea Is the Best in China

MeijiawuHangzhou is one of the most important tea production bases in China.

Hangzhou is known as the "Tea Capital" and is one of the most important tea production bases in China. In Hangzhou, it is very popular to visit a local tea farmer's home in a tea plantation. Pick tea leaves, stir-fry tea, then appreciate a Chinese tea ceremony before finally drinking authentic Longjing tea and tasting tea food.

Meijiawu is a less commercial tea plantation in Hangzhou. It is a good place for a family tour. You can experience the Chinese tea culture there, and both kids and adults will enjoy it.

Hangzhou Has Many Attractions

Besides West Lake and Meijiawu Tea Plantation, there are various places to visit.

Lingyin Temple: It is one of the largest and most visited Buddhist temples in China. It has tranquil surroundings and attracts many tourists and pilgrims.

Xitang Water Town: It is a beautiful town with cobbled streets, old buildings, bridges arching over canals, and rowing boats lingering on the river.

Xixi Wetland Park: It is about 5 kilometers from West Lake and offers fresh air, a peaceful environment, and fewer tourists.

Qinghefang Pedestrian Street: It is a tourist-oriented shopping and dining street with shopping and dining facilities that are catered to tourists' tastes. There are also some teahouses there that have a long history.

Reasons to Tour Suzhou

Classic Gardens

Humble Administrator's GardenHumble Administrator's Garden

When people think of classic Chinese gardens, they think of Suzhou. There is no doubt that Suzhou's classic gardens are the best in China.

The Humble Administrator's Garden is the largest garden in Suzhou. It is a masterpiece among Chinese gardens. Beautiful halls and pavilions, luxuriant trees and flowers, ponds, and ancient bridges are dotted in the garden. The design of the garden shows the simplicity and broadness of the Ming style.

Lingering Garden is one of the four famous classic gardens in China. It is famous for its exquisite architectural art, magnificent halls, changeable layout in the courtyard, and peculiar stones.

Water Towns

When you travel to the "Yangtze South" area, water towns are must-see attractions. Water towns in Suzhou are representative of these. The water towns retain the original look of old Suzhou.

Zhouzhuang Water Town is known as the most famous ancient water town in China with its interconnected waterways and beautiful environment. More than 800 local families live along the river, and more than 60% of the houses still preserve the architectural style of the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1912) dynasties.

Tongli Tongli Water Town

Tongli Ancient Town is one of the six famous ancient towns. It is famous for its rivers, streets, bridges, civil residences, and gardens. Tongli Ancient Town is less commercialized than Zhouzhuang.

Suzhou Is Half an Hour Away from Shanghai

The distance from Suzhou to Shanghai is closer than that from Hangzhou to Shanghai. Bullet trains from Suzhou to Shanghai leave every 5 minutes from 5:30am to 11pm. Shanghai is the last stop in many tourists' itineraries. The shorter distance between Suzhou and Shanghai gives you more time to visit each area.

A Suggested Itinerary Including Hangzhou and Suzhou

Hangzhou and Suzhou are both worthy of a visit. The duration of your stay in the two cities depends on your interests.

Here is a suggested itinerary for Hangzhou and Suzhou:

Day 1: Stay in Hangzhou. Arrive in Hangzhou: visit Meijiawu Tea Plantation and West Lake.

Day 2: Stay in Suzhou. Visit Lingering Garden and go to Tongli Water Town.

Day 3: Departure

See our detailed itinerary. You can set aside a free day to wander in your favorite city. Your local guide can give you good recommendations according to your interests.

Tour Hangzhou and Suzhou with Us

Suzhou Tour Hangzhou and Suzhou with China Highlights

We are committed to customizing every customer's tour. We have customized thousands of Hangzhou and Suzhou tours for foreign tourists. See our popular sample itineraries including Hangzhou and Suzhou:

The above tours can be modified according to your requirements. Just contact us and tell us your interests and requirements. We'd like to create a pleasurable and hassle-free tour for you.

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