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Suzhou, the historic garden paradise, is easily accessible by air, rail, and road, being in the highly developed Yangtze Delta area. Bullet trains link it with Shanghai and Hangzhou. There is a small subway system in the city.
Suzhou doesn't have a useful airport, so most tourists go via Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA) and Pudong International Airport (PVG).
Hongqiao Airport is 86 km (53 miles) from central Suzhou. Terminal 2 is connected to Hongqiao bullet train station (15 minutes walk). Suzhou's two bullet train stations both have frequent services to Hongqiao Station (30 minutes journey).
Pudong Airport is on the east of Shanghai, and hence inconvenient for Suzhou. It takes over an hour to get across China's largest city for onward transport to Suzhou.
To make visiting even more convenient, the whole Jiangsu/Zhejiang/Shanghai area is now 6-day visa free for citizens from 51 countries.
Suzhou Station (苏州火车站 Sūzhōu Huǒchē Zhàn), conveniently in the downtown area, is on the Shanghai-Nanjing mainline. There are frequent high-speed trains to Shanghai, scenic Wuxi, and historic Nanjing and regular trains to many places. There are 38 G and D trains to Shanghai Hongqiao and additional bullet trains to/from Shanghai Station.
Suzhou North Railway Station (苏州北站 Sūzhōu Běi Zhàn), less accessible in the northern suburbs, is Suzhou's main bullet train station. About 17 high speed G trains leave to Beijing South Station daily, and 56 G trains leave for Shanghai Hongqiao.
Five long-distance bus stations have services on advanced highways to the nearby cities and beyond. The three most useful for foreign travellers are Suzhou South (largest), Suzhou North, and Suzhou West.
Minimum journey times and fares: about 1½ hours for Shanghai (50 yuan), 2 hours for Hangzhou (69 yuan), 2½ hours for Nanjing (70 yuan), and 3 hours for Yangzhou (72 yuan).
The Grand Canal runs north-south through Suzhou, which has a lot of canals, and it is sometimes called "the Oriental Venice". Boat travel from Suzhou to Hangzhou and the water towns has become increasingly popular due to the amazing country scenery witnessed during the journey.
See the following links for water town transport. The main water towns are Tongli (rated 5 on TripAdvisor in 2016, 10 km or 6 miles from Suzhou), Shantung Street (rated 7, in the city next to Tiger Hill), and Luzhi (rated 25 on TripAdvisor, 25 kilometers from Suzhou).
There is a small metro system with two lines. Line 1 is the east to west line and line 2 goes north and south. Line 2 links Suzhou North Station and Suzhou Station.
Public buses routes run into all parts of the city. Fares are flat rated, usually 1 RMB for a non-air-conditioned bus and 2 RMB for an air-conditioned one. There is no fare collector on the bus, so please ensure that you have small denominations of change ready for the driver when boarding.
Taxis are convenient and are generally a hassle-free public transportation alternative. There are lots of taxis, so there is usually no problem to flag one down. The starting price is 10 RMB for 3 kilometres. Over 3 km, it is 1.8 RMB/km for a Santana and 1.4 RMB/km for a Xia Li cab.
These man-powered vehicles are a cheap way to get around. The starting price is about 2 RMB, rising to between 3 to 6 RMB for a longer trip. You can usually negotiate the price when taking a pedicab.
The easiest way to tour around Suzhou is by bike. Pedalling from place to place is painless and even pleasant. This is a very popular mode of transport for the many tourists who want to explore the gardens in the city. Generally, the price is 2 or 3 RMB for four hours and 6 RMB for the whole day. You'll need to leave a deposit and show your identity card.
With China Highlights, you can expect the best personalized private tours. Everything from area transportation to your flight tickets and visa can be arranged for you. We provide free travel advice too.
Here are our top Suzhou tour recommendations: