China has many interesting cities with tons of history, and although Beijing and Shanghai are two of the most popular destinations to visit in the country, we recommend stopping in Suzhou for a few days.
Suzhou has a history that dates back 2,500 years to 514 BC. Starting in the 10th century, the city became an extremely important trading center for China thanks to the manmade canal that began construction only a few hundred years after the city was established. This canal, known as the Grand Canal, was part of the three major projects developed by China, along with the Great Wall and the underground canal known as Karez.
For centuries, Suzhou was an economic epicenter until the mid-19th century when it was captured during the Taiping Rebellion. It wasn’t until after 1950 did the city really rebuild itself after the effects of war, and although there was a lot of damage, there are still some historical sites that are more than 700 to 1,000 years old.
If you’re planning on a trip away from China’s larger cities, we recommend you take a few days to see Suzhou and add these three must-dos when you’re there.
Lion Forest Garden
Suzhou has many intricately designed gardens that are such a site to see. One of the most interesting ones is the Lion Forest Garden, featuring beautiful rock formations. You’ll feel as though you are going through a rock maze. The garden is located near the larger Humble Administrator’s Garden and is a must-see. The rocks are Taihu stone, a type of limestone naturally created in Suzhou at the base of Dongting Mountain. The shape of the rocks almost look like lions, hence the name.
Aside from visiting the famous Suzhou Confucian Temple, we recommend taking a short hike to Lingyan Mountain Temple— it’s a beautiful escape into nature. This temple is located on the outer parts of Suzhou and requires you to climb stairs for about 20 minutes before reaching the top. Once you get to the end, you’ll get to visit the Lingyan Temple and several shrines, but the best part is the view you get of Suzhou. Another plus is that Lingyan Mountain is known to have tons of Yuhua Stones and even Japenese Deer.
You will most likely be strolling along Guanqian Jie at one point in Suzhou, but rather than spending too much time here, we recommend you head to Shiquan Jie. Located in the old city, this area is full of unique shops selling handmade items, silks, crafts, art and other traditional gifts to take home with you. At night, Shiquan Jie is an excellent choice as the street lights up with locals hopping from restaurant to bars—you can join in on the fun too!
China has much to offer its visitors, with different cities full of history, culture and lots of historical sites and destinations, one of which is Suzhou. If you’re ever in Shanghai and have a few days to spare, we recommend you grab a car and head 1.5 hours east to Suzhou. And our hope is that these recommendations will make your trip even more memorable!
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