Guanqian Street (Guan Qian Jie) is an old, pedestrian shopping and dining street in central Suzhou. The streent lies in front of Xuanmiao Guan (Xuanmiao Daoist Shrine), hence the name. The street became a popular commercial street during the Qing Dynasty when shops appeared along the street to serve people visited the shrine or attended fairs nearby. Today the street remains highly active, known for goods of regional orgins and food with local flavor.
Located 80 km (50 mi) west of Shanghai, Suzhou is a charming city that combines a leisurely pace of life with a dynamic economy. In spite of the rapid grow in recent decades (urban population has reached 6 million), the city has managed to preserve some of its appeal as an old town with numerous crisscrossing canals, arched stone bridges, winding narrow alleys, and especially beautiful classical gardens (the gardens are collectively identified as a UNESCO World Heritage site). Taihu, China's second largest clear-water lake, lies 15 km west of the city and provides opportunities for retreat and excursion.
Hanshan Si is a temple with a long history. Many Chinese today know about the temple throug a poem composed in the 8th century that evoked the ringing of the bell in the temple. Founded in the 6th century, the temple was burned down a number of times and the existing structures most date back to the 19th century. Today Hanshan templen continues to exist as an important cultural icon of China. It is located in the northwestern suburb of Suzhou, on the bank of a small river.
Humble Administrator's Garden
Zhuzheng Yuan or "Humble Administrator's Garden" was built in the early 1500s, by an scholar-official who retired to his hometown Suzhou. The garden occupies about 5 hectares (12 acres) of land and is divided into eastern, central, and western parts, with middle section considered the most authentic and valuable. The overall effect of the carefully designed and constructed pavillions, ponds and bridges makes the garden one of the finest traditional gardens in China.
Lion Grove Garden
Shizi Lin or "Lion Grove Garden" is one of the top classical gardens of Suzhou. The garden is particularly known for its use of the numerous and spetacular water-molded rocks, which, due to their number of and shapes, gave rise to the name "Lion Grove." Originally created in the 14th century, the popular garden now occupies one hectare of land (4.7 acres). It is located in the northeastern part of the old Suzhou, a few minutes' walk south Zhuozheng Yuan ("Garden of the Humble Administrator").
Liu Yuan, the "Garden Where One Lingers" was originally built at the end of the 16th century. Occupying an area of 3 hectares or 7.5 acres, this is one of the leading classical gardens of Suzhou, which is also known in particular for its water-modelled rocks and artificial hills. The garden has three parts: the middle section has the theme of rocks and water, the eastern section features pavillion and halls, and in the northern section one finds carefully cultivated trees, flowers and bonsai. This is one of Suzhou's classical gardens collectively identified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Luzhi River Town
Luzhi, also known as Puli, is located 25 km east of Suzhou and 60 km west of Shanghai. This is an old town known for its traditional residential buildings, canals, and stone bridges (it is said that within an one square-kilometer area in the town there are 41 stone bridges of various styles).
Pingjiang Street (Pingjiang Lu) is a historic street located in the northeastern part of the old Suzhou, which goes along a small river, Pingjiang. Extending from Gangjiang Dong Road in the south to Baita Dong Road in the south, measuring 1.6 km (1 mi) in length, the street is lined with old residential buildings and some small shops and restaurants. Taking a stroll down this generally quiet street is a good way to get a sense of local life in the old days.
Tianping Shan, elevation 200 m (656 ft, is a small mountain 15 km west of Suzhou. The scenic area with Tianping Shan at its center is known for rocky boulders, springs, and maple trees. Nearby there also Lingyan Scenic Area and Longchi Scenic Area. A nice destination for retreat from the city.
As a historical site, Hu Qiu ("Tiger Hill") is as old as the nearby city Suzhou. Tradition has it that 2,500 years before out time, King Helü of the Wu State was buried here. The hill that is at the center of the historical park is but 30 m (100 ft) in height, on which there stands a pagoda that was built in the 10th century, measuring 48 m (157 ft) in height. The pagoda is part of Yunyan Zen Temple, which over the centuries has drawn Buddhist visitors from across China. Below the Tiger Hill Pagoda there is also Jian Chi, "Sword Pool," which, according legends, covers the entrance to the tomb chamber of King Helü. Occupying 20 hectares (50 acres) of land. the Tiger Hill Park is located in the northwestern part of Suzhou.
Wangshi Yuan is a traditional-style garden in the southeastern part of the old Suzhou. The name means "A master fisherman's garden" (also translated as "Garden of the Mater of Nets"), which was chosen by the original owner to indicate the intention to retreat from the bustling world. Comprising just a little over half a hectare of land and water surface (about 1.5 acres), this is a small and compact garden, but it is very thoughfully designed to provide a great variation of sights. The garden was orginally built in the 12th century and is one of the Suzhou gardens that are collectively identified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. One can visit the garden in the evening, when, in addition sightseeing, a few folk music perforances will be staged for small groups of visitors.
Xi Shan or West Mountain is an island in the Tai Lake. About 80 square km (30 square mi) in area, the island is 40 km west of Suzhou. The hills on the island affords many nice views of the vast lake below, and there are also a few historical sites to visit and a few small old villages to explore. Not to be missed is also a dinner on one of the boat restaurants, done at sunset time. The island is now connected to the lake shore with a long bridge (4.3 km in length).