There are three pearls in the Yangtze River Delta: Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou. People may know about Shanghai because of the modern skyscrapers and old cultural buildings but may not know about Hangzhou and Suzhou - two beautiful cities that aren't very far from Shanghai.
With the rapid development of high-speed railway, people can reach Hangzhou and Suzhou from Shanghai within an hour and it is possible to visit the three cities within a limited amount of time.
Here is a guide about how to plan a tour from Shanghai to Hangzhou and Suzhou, including necessary information and a 5-day tour plan.
Highlights of Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou
Shanghai is a city that combines modernity with tradition. Visit the Bund and you will feel like you are walking along the streets of Shanghai in the 1920s. You can enjoy a bird's-eye view of the city from the Shanghai Tower or spend some leisurely time in a traditional garden.
Check out the top things to do in Shanghai.
Hangzhou is a charming city with well-preserved natural and cultural scenery. The most famous attraction in Hangzhou is West Lake. Enjoying a boat ride on the lake is quite a relaxing and scenic experience. Also, visit Lingyin Temple to make a wish for your family.
Read about the top things to do in Hangzhou.
Suzhou is famous for its traditional gardens and water towns, which have an idyllic atmosphere and beautiful Chinese architecture. Take a rickshaw ride alongside the ancient canal to admire the ancient buildings and streets.
Travel Between Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou by Train
As the three cities are close to each other, the best way to get around is by train.
Shanghai is the transportation hub of the three cities as there are two international airports connecting major cities in the world. Every day, over 200 bullet, or high-speed, trains depart from Shanghai to Hangzhou and Suzhou.
There are also over 30 direct trains between Hangzhou and Suzhou, which go through Shanghai.
Shanghai Airports and Railway Stations
In Shanghai, there are two international airports: Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (IATA: SHA) and Shanghai Pudong International Airport (IATA: PVG).
The most used railway stations in Shanghai are Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station and Shanghai Railway Station. Both have bullet trains to Hangzhou and Suzhou. Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station has more trains.
Shanghai Hongqiao Is Easier to Use
For overseas travelers, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport is easier to use because it is only 10 minutes' walk to Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, which connects the railway lines to Hangzhou and Suzhou.
Shanghai Hongqiao is also closer to some Shanghai attractions, such as the Bund.
What to Do If You Arrive in Shanghai Pudong
Don't worry if your flight arrives in Shanghai Pudong, just take Metro Line 2 to Shanghai Hongqiao. This will take an extra 1½ hours so you are advised to allow at least 2 hours (the more the better) for the transfer, in order to make sure you don't miss your train.
Trains Also Depart from Shanghai Railway Station
Besides Shanghai Hongqiao, the trains to Hangzhou and Suzhou also depart from Shanghai Railway Station.
To get to Shanghai Railway Station, take Metro Line 2 then 3 from Shanghai Hongqiao, or take Metro Line 2 then 1 or 4 from Shanghai Pudong.
Arrival in Hangzhou
When traveling from Shanghai to Hangzhou, most of the trains arrive at Hangzhou East Railway Station and about two to three trains at Hangzhou Railway Station.
Both stations are convenient for travelers because Metro Line 1 connects them and the most famous attraction in Hangzhou - West Lake.
Arrival in Suzhou
When traveling from Shanghai to Suzhou, the trains arrive at Suzhou Railway Station and Suzhou North Railway Station.
Suzhou Railway Station is more convenient as it is about half an hour's drive to some famous gardens and the ancient canal. Don't worry if you arrive in Suzhou North, just take Metro Line 2 to Suzhou Railway Station.
As the journey between Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou takes 1–2 hours, travelers can take the train to another city, visit attractions within the city, and then return to the departure city or go to the third city in one day.
Although there are plenty of trains, you are still advised to book your ticket(s) early, especially during Chinese holidays and rush hours.
Accommodation Options: Shanghai, Hangzhou, or Suzhou
As Shanghai has more international airlines, you first stop is generally Shanghai. Departing from Shanghai, it is possible to arrive in Hangzhou/Suzhou and return in one day. So, a good choice is to stay in Shanghai throughout your trip.
Staying in Hangzhou or Suzhou after a day visiting the city is another choice. Although you need to carry your luggage all the way, you have the chance to enjoy some activities at night, such as watching a live show in Hangzhou or taking a night cruise in Suzhou.
The Best Times to Visit
The best times to visit Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou are spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) because the weather is comfortable, warm, and there is less rainfall.
Notice: Peak Season
During Chinese national holidays, such as May 1st to 3rd and October 1st to 7th, there will be more visitors in the three cities. You are advised to book your hotel and train ticket(s) as soon as possible.
If you are traveling with us, your travel consultant and guide will suggest some less crowded attractions and experiences for you, and will help you to book some restaurants in advance. We do our best to keep you away from the crowds and shorten your waiting time.
Time Needed: 5 Days
Five days are enough to visit Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou. Excluding the day of arrival and the day of departure, you have one day for each of the cities.
If your time is limited, you can still visit all three cities. You can arrive in Shanghai in the morning and visit the Bund in the afternoon or evening. This will save you one day for the whole journey.
If you only have 3 days or less, you can save one city or two for your next visit.
If you are seeking something to do for your layover in Shanghai, it is still possible to enjoy some attractions: half a day is enough for an in-depth visit to the Bund and one day is enough for a day trip of Shanghai, Hangzhou, or Suzhou.
Visa Requirement: 144-Hour Visa-Free
You may enjoy visa-free travel for up to 6 days, which is enough time to visit all three cities of Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou. Check the 144-hour visa-free policy for information about the visa-free countries and detailed conditions.
5-Day Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou Tour Plan
Day 1: Shanghai Arrival
Arrive in Shanghai, check-in to your hotel, and have some rest.
You can stroll along Nanjing Road in the evening, which is the most popular pedestrian street in Shanghai.
Day 2: Visit Shanghai City
In the morning, visit the Bund - a promenade alongside the Huangpu River with historical buildings. In the afternoon, visit Yu Garden to admire the concentration of traditional Chinese architecture and horticulture.
Optional: In-Depth Bund Culture Discovery / Former French Concession Precinct
If you are traveling with us, you will go on an in-depth Bund culture discovery tour for about 2½ hours. Your guide will give you information about the ancient buildings and tell you some stories about them.
If you want to learn more about Shanghai's history, visit the Former French Concession Precinct.
Visit the Shanghai Tower for a bird's-eye view of the city if you have some more time.
Day 3: Visit Hangzhou's West Lake
Optional: Tea Culture Experience / Live Night Shows
If you like Chinese tea, we can arrange a half-day Chinese tea culture experience at Meijiawu Tea Plantation. In this experience, you will try the whole process for making tea and will learn to drink tea in the correct way.
Our One-Day Dragon Well Tea Culture and West Lake Tour includes this experience. Check the itinerary for more information.
Want to find something to do at night? Watch a night show. The open-air live show on West Lake called Impression West Lake is the most recommended.
Accommodation: Zhejiang International Hotel (4-star) / Sofitel Hangzhou Westlake (5-star)
Day 4: Visit Attractions in Suzhou
In the morning, visit the Humble Administrator's Garden, which is the largest traditional garden in Suzhou. It features streams, artificial hills, and ancient architectures.
After your visit, head to Tongli Water Town. Walk around the town to visit ancient architectural structures that have existed for hundreds of years.
Optional: Lingering Garden and the ancient canal
Lingering Garden is another famous garden in Suzhou, featuring a garden landscape, ancient architecture, and idyllic scenery.
It is fun and relaxing to take a rickshaw to travel around the ancient canal in Suzhou. If you choose to stay in Suzhou for one night, you can have the chance to take a night cruise on the canal. Let us help you to arrange these experiences.
Read the detailed information about our Suzhou day trip.
Day 5: Shanghai Departure
Board your flight and leave Shanghai.
If you are interested in the tour plan above, you can check our 5-day Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou Bullet Train Tour for detailed information and a quotation.
Visit Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou with Us
Having a tour of Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou with us, you will enjoy a smooth and meaningful journey because we will arrange all of the bookings and transportation for you, and your guide will tell you about the history and stories behind the attractions.
Check out some popular tours:
Check more Shanghai tours for ideas. Everything in the itineraries can be customized according to your interests.
Also, tell us your requirements and let us create a tour for you.