Where is Suzhou?
Suzhou is about 100 km from Shanghai and only takes 30 mins with a high-speed train. Our next city to visit is Suzhou. You can also do a day trip from Shanghai but we spent two nights exploring Suzhou.
Suzhou and Shanghai are located in Jiangsu Province which is also knowns as the “land of rivers and lakes” due to its abundant water resources as it has close proximity to the river Yangtze. That’s mean you will expect to see water villages in Suzhou too.
Suzhou has a lot to offer, it is a beautiful city in China and all Chinese knew that. Just the Chinese local tourists traveling to Suzhou is huge. Avoiding traveling to Suzhou on weekends as most attractions are just crowded.
When we talk about Suzhou, it is about its Classical Garden and one of the must-visit is Humble Administrator’s Garden 拙政园 also listed in UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Suzhou is a city of Garden
Suzhou is a city of gardens, there are many gardens – in total there are 69 preserved gardens in Suzhou but Humble Administrator’s Garden is the most famous one! The other famous gardens are Lingering Garden 留园, Lion Grove Garden 狮子林园, Canglang Pavilion 沧浪亭 and Master of the Nets Garden 网师园. In case you love gardens so much these are the top 5 you may want to explore.
Strange Rocks Formation
Humble Administrator’s Garden (Zhuo Zheng Yuan) is a Ming-era garden with 3 sections, Eastern, Central, and Western. Let’s see what is so special about the garden? Well, the number one thing you will note is the elaborate rock formations. Some of them really have bizarre shapes. Use your imagination to figure out what does each of these rocks represents.
There are a number of pavilions here as it is a good spot to admire the lotuses in summer. You should go search for the Heavenly Spring pavilion (Tianquan Tian 天泉亭) which gets its name after an ancient well whose water tastes very sweet.
Xiao Fei Hong Bridge 小飞虹
This is the iconic covered corridor bridge named Xiao Fei Hong in Humble Administrator’s Garden. Xiao Fei hong bridge is rare as it is not only a passage connecting water and land but also creates a unique landscape and also a classic.
Look from the window
Another experience to admire the view is to walk to the old window of the garden and you can have a different feel of the beautiful landscape and surrounding scenery.
Look at the Antiques from the Ming Dynasty
In the old residence, you should also pay attention to the antique furniture which was from hardwood furniture of the Ming Dynasty and the elegant decorations.
The range of bonsai here is so huge and all beautiful line up with big and small and some with unique shapes. I know nothing much about bonsai but was gotten so impressed.
The Humble Administrator’s Garden originally built as a private garden by Wang Xianchen 王献臣. This guy is smart and eager to learn since he was a little boy. Not surprisingly that he was admitted as a scholar (jinshi 进士) at an early age. It was said that Wang was frustrated in his official career, so he decided to build a garden after retire and just do some gardening work like planting trees and cultivating vegetables for daily consumption. Wang named the garden as Humble Administrator’s Garden because he thought of his own situation of how as a simple person, he himself governs and looks after his own garden without politics and other interference.
Fruits stall outside the garden
Suzhou Speciality – Osmanthus cake 苏州特色桂花糕
This is made from glutinous rice and the green color is from the juice of grass which gives you a fresh taste. The filling is usually made from sweet red bean paste. You should eat this while it is still warm or hot.
If you have time, please also visit the Suzhou Museum which is just located next to the garden. It is completed by famous architect I.M Pei, who also built the glass pyramid in Louvre Museum. Hence you will see Pei’s style of design with squares, rectangles, and pyramids.
We usually take a taxi when we were in Suzhou, it runs by meter and safe. However, sometimes we also use Didi, just like Grab or Uber. Didi can only be used if you have set up the Didi online payment system. If you don’t, you can still use it. Just ask someone to call for you and you can pay him or her. There are a lot of nice people in China.
We also tried the motor rickshaw (below picture) to go back to our hotel from the Humble Administrator’s Garden.
Visiting Suzhou’s garden is a must-do and the Humble Administrator’s Garden is one of the most famous and biggest ones but can be very crowded during holidays and weekends.