Romance of Watertown
2-Day Essential Suzhou and Tongli Water Town Tour
The world heritage gardens and the nearby water towns are two highlights of Suzhou that should not be missed. This tour offers a great chance to appreciate Suzhou's classical gardens and Tongli water town. Explore the biggest classical garden and the smallest stone bridge. Take a small boat in Tongli for a leisurely trip.
- Visit one of China's top four gardens—the Humble Administrator's Garden
- Appreciate one of the smallest but also one of the most ingenious gardens—the Garden of the Master of Nets
- Take a rickshaw ride in Suzhou's alleys and catch a glimpse of local people's lives
- Stroll around in Tongli water town and relax on the boat trip there
Suzhou via Shanghai Day Trip
Ryan from #chinahighlights was my guide beginning in Shanghai when I landed the day before. He had a huge bouquet of flowers from China Highlights company for me when I arrived at the Shanghai airport. Next We went to Humble Administrators Garden which was already inundated with throngs of Chinese Tourists and visitors. It was a super lovely day so I don't blame them for visiting! I was wearing my own Han Fu dress so I felt very much at home because that's what the girls and women do, go to these places for photos! This garden despite all the people was super great. The features and layout including bonsai. Especially Azalea, we're stunning. Clean and neat. Worth your time anyway you cut it. Next was the smaller The Garden of The Master of Nets. Along the way Ryan explained some of the history and features of these places as we went along. Somehow both these gardens merged in my mind! I love Gardens, so I could go to these places daily! Finally, we drove to Tongli Old Town. Another places where girls and women dress up for outings and pictures. I wish I saw more men indulging! Lovely little town, I loved the layout and feeling like I had time travelled. The little boat cruise was jumping again with Chinese visitors and tourists. I really felt happy that they were out enjoying themselves after the recent past.... After the boat Ryan took me to Pingjuang Road, which is mostly a pedestrian street. He mentioned the Film Industry and showed me a monument and street tiles for all the movies that had been made there. A light lunch and walked back out of the area to the parking lot area where we began. A super lovely day with No Hassles!more
May 2023, JeanneC
Wonderful Suzhou experience
We had another amazing tour with China Highlights. Cultural tour to Suzhou was so informative and fun with our amazing guide Mr Lin and our wonderful Wendy who brought us together. Many thanks to both of you! Looking forward to our next adventure.more
Apr 2021, tiillly
Beautiful garden city tour with Cathy and China Highlights
I've been to Suzhou many times on business but I wanted to explore more when my wife and I planned a two week trip to China. We took the train in from Xian - which gave us an opportunity to see the countryside while relaxing on the smoothest trip I've had by rail. China highlights took care of all the details for us. Our guide Cathy is very proud of her city and knows its history well. We enjoyed two days of tours including the Humble Administrators garden, Tiger Hill pagoda and gardens, a canal cruise, the silk museum and a rickshaw tour through a residential area with stops in the local markets. Throughout Cathy was able to highlight points of interest as well as answer any questions. The restaurants were great as well with a nice variety of foods to enjoy.more
Oct 2019, Traveldad65
Thank you China Highlights for Custom Tour to Suzhou, Wuhan and Hangzhou!
Penny got us safely on our high speed train in Suzhou and we traveled on our own to Wuhan. Michael of China Highlights found us when we disembarked the train station and couriered us to our hotel where we settled in for the night. Next day he took us to all the desired locations. A super friendly tour guide with great knowledge of the region. Michael couriered us to the Wuhan airport and we traveled on our own to Hangzhou.more
Jun 2018, jengrinold
Pleasant tour through the gardens and canals with knowledgeable guide
On October 26, China Highlights guide, John, picked us up in Shanghai and transported us to Suzhou and the next day to Tongli. John spoke excellent English and was very knowledgeable and clear in his answers to all our questions about modern Chinese history. One of our main reasons for our going to Suzhou was to go to the Suzhou Art Museum designed by I. M. Pei. Among other features, John was able to point out how the architect used doorways and windows to create painting-like images. For the same reason, we also enjoyed his guidance through the Garden of the Master of Nets. We especially enjoyed the rowboat cruise through the Grand Canal in Suzhou and our lunch at the tavern in the Tongli, where Sun Yat-sen and colleagues had first planned the overthrow of the emperor. Finally, we were especially grateful to John and the arrangements he was able to make about returning the ipad I had left behind accidently in the car upon our arrival back at the hotel in Shanghai. John was able arrange its return to me at the hotel by the next morning.more
Jan 2018, Rocky H
Suzhou & Gardens Tour
Our guide, Deng, met us at the train station and took us to our hotel. She was also our tour guide for the next two days, where we visited the many gardens of Suzhou (Lingering, Humble Administrators and Tiger Hill). Deng was friendly, knowledgeable and always on time. She gave us some excellent inside perspectives on the areas of Suzhou. We especially enjoyed the Night Tour of the Nets Master, where Deng made sure we were well positioned to see the next presentation. Suzhou is a wonderful city to visit and we enjoyed our time there. Thank you Deng.more
Nov 2017, Robert C
Suzhou was a pleasure to explore
I was fortunate to have Huang Min as my tour guide for Suzhou. His interest in traditional Chinese culture and Chinese design helped me to really appreciate Suzhou. When we visited buildings he would show me things like how the buildings were made and different techniques used back in the old times. He would also mention how many of the items and rooms I saw were used and their function in Chinese culture. I felt he went above and beyond in that respect. I felt like I was doing more than just spectating, and the tour felt more personal because of Huang Min. He had a lot of knowledge to pass on. The lunch was delicious at yangyang dumpling restaurant. I needed help to use chopsticks and Huang Min showed me how to use them. My hands got tired so I ended up using a fork anyway, but it was a pleasant experience with really tasty food. I loved Suzhou and I hope to visit again someday. I did many more things on the tour, but to summarize I would say Suzhou was special to me. Huang Min helped make it special.more
Sep 2017, smael_nicolas
Suzhou another place you just have to got to
The Gardens are incredible,bonsai by the 100,s and each one perfect.The locals in the park singing and dancing.Lunch was incredible (SO SO GOOD)The water town was like stepping back in time.I loved every minute i spent in this beautiful place. Can i say you need a guide to explain the reasons behind things and to show you things as simple as where to stand to get a photo. Well my guide Deng from china highlights a true local and an amazing guide with bucket loads of knowledge and a huge amount of patients for my hundreds of questions.more
Jun 2017, cer75
Suzhou a beautiful city of gardens
Arriving in Suzhou we were met by our very knowledgeable and experienced guide Ming who immediately took us to a famous dumpling restaurant for a delicious lunch. In spite of having grown over the years from a small city to a city in the millions of inhabitants, Suzhou retains in its center town the traditional architecture and feel of days gone by which makes it one to the loveliest places to visit. The highlight of a visit to Suzhou is its famous classical gardens, we started by visiting 'The Humble Administrator's Garden' where we learned that the important elements in a Chinese garden are not only the vegetation but also the water features, the rocks, and the buildings each with its own function making the garden an extension of the home. That same evening we went to a show at the 'Master of Nets' garden, it was magical to see the garden at night and the show was moving from building to building with the audience following and consisted of traditional music and singing, a short humorous play (which with Ming's help we could follow in spite of not understanding a word) , some dancing, and a short historical drama. Our hotel in Suzhou was a beautiful building in traditional Suzhou style around a lovely courtyard and was a few steps away from the 'Lingering Garden' which was my personal favorite, every element of the garden is uniquely chosen to form a perfectly harmonious whole. In addition to the gardens we visited the Pamnen ancient city gate and Tiger hill, which are both interesting and beautiful historical sites. We loved everything about our vist to Suzhou, our hotel, our guide Ming, the wonderful traditional restaurants, the old town historical streets, and most of all the gardens. Thanks to China Highlights for such a wonderful visit.more
Jun 2017, Marylene P
Your private guide will be waiting for you at your hotel. Starting from the hotel in Shanghai, you should arrive in Suzhou in about 1.5 hours, via a comfortable non-smoking vehicle.
Note: If you prefer to take a bullet train, we can arrange train tickets.
Enjoy a hassle-free transfer to Suzhou, and start your exploration at the biggest classical garden there, Humble Administrator's Garden. Your guide will help you understand more about the garden, especially its history. See picturesque pools, pavilions, and rocks.
Have lunch at a local Suzhou restaurant. The most famous Suzhou food is Squirrel-Shaped Mandarin Fish. The fish is sweet and sour, cooked in the shape of a squirrel.
The Garden of the Master of Nets is only 1/6 of the size of the Humble Administrator's Garden, but it is the most ingenious classical garden in Suzhou. It also has the smallest stone bridge in Suzhou—only 2 meters long.
Take a rickshaw ride to explore the alleys of Suzhou, where local people live. You will find a hammam (a communal bathhouse), food markets, ancient wells, and stone pagodas, and you'll probably see people washing clothes by the river.
After the trip, we'll take you back to your hotel in Suzhou.
An Evening Recommendation
The "Night Garden" in the Garden of the Master of Nets is a good place to enjoy a live traditional Chinese music performance. Ping tan (storytelling and ballad singing in the Suzhou dialect), Kunqu Opera, flute, and Chinese zither are all performed in different halls.
Opening times: mid-March to mid-November, 19:30–22:00
After a western-style breakfast in the hotel, you will visit Tiger Hill, also known as Surging Sea Hill. It is a large hillock, standing 36 meters high and covering an area of some 14,100 square meters. Going up the hill, you will find a number of historical sites, including some from 2,500 years ago, as old as Suzhou city itself. For bonsai lovers, there is a little bonsai garden on the hill.
We'll then drive 30 minutes to Tongli water town, often praised as the Venice of China. Take a small boat along the canal to see the old town. It's a great place for ancient architecture and traditional culture. Have lunch in a local Tongli restaurant.
After the visit in Tongli, we'll drive you back to your hotel in Shanghai and wave goodbye.
Customizing the Tour — According to Your Needs
This tour is very flexible. You can alter the itinerary, and extend or shorten it to suit your schedule.
For example, you can extend it by 1 day to visit Shanghai or 2 days to add a tea culture experience in Hangzhou.
What's the Best Time to Visit Suzhou?
You can visit Suzhou at any time. Every season has its own peculiar beauty. Beautiful flowers in spring and colorful leaves in autumn make spring and autumn most popular. Avoid Chinese national holidays like May 1st, or the China National Day holiday (Oct. 1st-7th).
Suzhou & Neighbors
Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai are the most famous cities of the Yangtz Delta. The other two places are convenient to reach from Suzhou at a short distance.