This itinerary covers <Shanghai – Suzhou – Yiwu, Hengdian – Hangzhou>
You will find 38 blogs on the below topics:
- High-Speed train review on- Business, First and second class
- Maglev Train review
- Shanghai HuangPu River Cruise
- Shanghai Zhujiajiao Water Village
- Shanghai top things to eat and top places to visit
- Taxi , dadi in China
- Transport in Hengdian city
- Where to stay in each city – hotel review
- Food review on each city
Day 1 Shanghai – one night, you can extend to 2-3 nights
We only stayed one night in Shanghai because this is not the first time. If you have not been to Shanghai before, then you may want to consider staying for 2-3 nights at least to cover other places in Shanghai. (I have also written 3 blogs on places of interest in Shanghai).
We landed in Shanghai Pudong Airport and took the fastest train in the world, Maglev to travel to the city center, only takes about 7-8 mins to arrive. The earliest maglev starts at 7 am. Our flight around 5-6 am. After checking out from the airport and having breakfast at the airport, it was slightly before 7 am.
When we arrived at the city center at the Maglev station, we took a taxi to our hotel, the Renaissance Shanghai Yu Garden Hotel. We were lucky we were able to do an early check-in. The hotel is within walking distance to Cheng Huang Miao so it has a good location to find food and souvenirs. We had our lunch at Cheng Huang Miao in the morning till noon.
From 12 pm noon, we booked a Klook half-day tour to Zhujiajiao water town, about an hour’s drive from our hotel, Shanghai city center. It was a small minivan, with a driver who only speaks Chinese and an English speaking guide who explained everything and guide us. We have 8 pax in the mini-van and throughout the whole journey, the guide speaks in fluent English.
There are public transports to get to Zhujiajiao Water town but you have to walk for a distance from the train station or bus stop, about 15 min to half an hour. Our mini-bus brought us at the doorstep of Zhujiajiao entrance and we went in from another secret short cut way which allows us to avoid the crowds.
The half-day tour also includes the boat ride in the village which I think is the highlight in Zhujiajiao water town. We spent about 2 hours plus in Zhujiajiao then proceed to a silk factory. In the silk factory, they show you how a cacoon looks like how it was being transformed into silk, making into clothes and blankets or bedsheet. No harsh sales and we only spent half an hour in the silk factory, that was including the toilet break for 8 pax. So in total maybe 15-20 min listening and looking around in the silk factory. 🙂
Our next program is the Huangpu River Cruise, this is another highlight in Shanghai. Klook provides us a good dinner near the ferry terminal then we can just walk over to catch the cruise. If you are thinking of getting the ticket on your own, I think it is not really possible as the crowds (local tourists) are so huge. Before the ticketing counters were opened, there are already so many guides lining up to help to get tickets for their tourists. Luckily we have Klook’s guide to help us line up for the cruise tickets while we were able to enjoy a relaxing dinner nearby.
The queuing part to enter the cruise is quite daunting too, you won’t know where to queue as the crowd is so huge. Again, we were lucky to have Klook guide to tell us where to line up. I don’t think I can figure out how to queue. When I saw the crowds I was shocked and almost fainted. So crowded and noisy as some of those local tourists are from other parts of China and some may come from the countryside so they are not as cultured as those in the big cities.
We have an elderly folk who is not able to walk for long so the guide talks to the security so she could walk in directly without needing to walk the zig-zag line for more than 20 min to reach the cruise. The cruise takes about an hour to complete. Get your phone ready and enjoy the lights in Huang Pu River Cruise. When it ended, the mini-van send us back to our hotel.
Day 2 Suzhou – 2 nights but 3 nights is more ideal
Since we have already booked our ticket online for high-speed rail Shanghai to Suzhou, we just took a taxi to the high-speed rail station. You need to arrive early as the train station is big and you need to go your ticket from your online booking.
Shanghai – Suzhou High Speed–> We are catching Business Class, please refer to the Business class review for further information.
Arrived around noon, check-in the hotel visit the following places:
- Humble Administrator’s Garden 拙政园
- Guanqian Street 观前街 Dinner and shopping (modern stores)
- back to Hotel Soul 苏哥利酒店 (within walking distance 2 mins)
- Tiger Hill 虎丘
- Hanshan Temple 寒山寺
- Go back to the hotel to rest for 2 hours (2 pm-4 pm)
- Shangtang Street 七里山塘 at night (5pm-8 pm)
- back to Hotel Soul 苏哥利酒店
Day 4 Suzhou to Yiwu (Hengdian) 2 nights (You can extend to 3-4 nights)
Day 4 is mostly traveling from morning till afternoon. Catches the second class (the cheapest seat) for this journey. The total duration took about 3 hours. Our departure is about 11 am and arrived in Yiwu at around 2 pm. We had our lunch inside the high-speed train. We bought KFC and other snacks to eat inside the train.
Once we arrived in Yiwu, we took a taxi to go to Hengdian. It took about an hour to reach Hengdian from Yiwu. Since we have big luggage we prefer to take a taxi and we also have 3 pax so it didn’t really cost that much. (Refer to Hengdian blog for details taxi fares)
We checked in immediately at the hotel in Hengdian, rest for an hour then visit the first studio in Hengdian, Guangzhou Street and Hong Kong Street. We also had our dinner at the studio.
Day 5 Hengdian
We woke up early to visit a few studios.
- Ming Qing Palace (2 hours) 9.30 -1.30 am
- Qing Palace (2 hours) 1-3 pm
- early dinner outside Dream Valley (KFC) at 4 pm
- Dream Valley (5 pm -8pm )
- took a taxi outside Dream Valley back to the hotel
In total, we walked for over 30,000 steps for three studios
Day 6 Hengdian -> Yiwu -> Hangzhou 2 nights
Day 6 is kind of rush as we need to taxi to Yiwu then high-speed rail to Hangzhou. We still have the morning to explore in Hengdian so exploring another famous studio, Qing Ming Shang He Tu.
- Qing Ming Shang He Tu 9-10.30 am
- Taxi to Yiwu train station 11 am -12 pm
- High-speed rail to Hangzhou, this time we experienced first class, which is one class lower than Business class and one class higher than the second class. I find this is the most ideal one if you want to travel around in China with high-speed in terms of price and comfort.
- Arrived in Hangzhou at around 2pm – took a taxi to Huachen International Hotel (walking distance to West Lake)
- Rest for an hour in hotel
- West Lake at around 5 pm, watching the West Lake Fountain show at around at 7 pm
- Dinner at West Lake Shopping Street
- Back to the hotel at around 8 plus – 9 pm
Day 7 – Hangzhou
We booked a whole day tour from Klook exploring West Lake and Lingyin Temple. The driver came on time at around 8.30 am in 6 seater mpv. We have another 3 pax from local. The driver only speaks Chinese and no English. 6 pax in total. Lunch is not included.
- West Lake Broken Bridge, Bai Causeway
- West Lake Boat Ride
- Huagang Guanyu 花港观鱼
- Ji Hong Qiao 霁虹桥
- Hupan University 湖畔大学
- Zhejiang University 浙江大学 Lunch in the International Student Canteen
- Fei Lai Feng 飞来峰
- Lingyin Temple 灵隐寺
- West Lake Longjing tea plantation 梅家坞茶村
- Nine creeks in misty forest (Jiuxi Yanshu) 九溪烟树
- Back to hotel 5 pm
- Walk to West Lake Shopping street for dinner
Day 8 Hangzhou
Day 8 is also our last day in Hangzhou as we needed to catch a night flight back to Singapore.
- Check out the hotel and park our luggage
- Ali Baba Tao Bao City in Xixi Campus -45 min from city center
- Wushan 吴山
- Qinghefang Ancient Street 清河坊
- Back to the hotel at 5 pm
- Get the express bus ticket to Airport ( just next door to the hotel), only takes half an hour to reach the airport.
Details of the information are written in the blogs below, check them out.
It was the second time to travel to Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG airport), one of China’s most important air traffic hubs. Our China free & easy tour with high-speed train starts from the city of Shanghai and end at Hangzhou. We did not use the same airport to go back home.
If you travel to Shanghai China, most likely you will need to use a Maglev train (SMT) to travel to the city from the Pudong International Airport. Forget about a taxi, as it takes longer to reach. Maglev is different from ordinary high-speed trains. It is the fastest and you feel like “floating in the air” when the train speeds up to the max at 430km/h. It only takes less than 7-8 mins to travel 30km to the city center. The whole journey is smooth, quiet, and relaxing. Before you knew it, the train arrived.
Shanghai is a mix of traditions and modernity, you get to see both in this city. In the old town of Cheng Huang Miao, you will see the mix of ancient and new buildings such as skyscraper and futuristic towers blend well and makes a good contrast. In this post, you get to know what are the top souvenirs and little secrets in Cheng Huang Miao too.
Cheng Huang Miao is one of the must-visit places in Shanghai, also known as the City God Shrine in English. This part of the city has many old buildings and most over a hundred years old. Hundred of stores line the street and this is a great place to shop and find food. Let’s find out what are the must eat food in Cheng Huang Miao Shanghai.
There are several water towns in Shanghai and one of the famous ones is Zhujiajiao Water Town 朱家角水乡. It is about 47km ( 1 hr) away from Shanghai. In this post there are top 26 things to know before you visit. One of them is the Grandma’s dumpling which one should try it out.
Huangpu is the largest river in Shanghai and to do a Huangpu River cruise is a must when visiting Shanghai. It is one of the best ways to look at both traditional and modern Shanghai from the river. We booked via Klook a day trip to Zhujiajiao which also include Huangpu River Cruise at night. This is a perfect package and value for money. We had our dinner which is also included in the package near a mall next to the cruise terminal. After dinner, we walked for 5 mins to reach the terminal to queue to enter the cruise.
The hotel has the best location as it is located downtown near the famous Yu Garden and old town Cheng Huang Miao. It is only 2 mins walk to these places. 5 Star rated and the facilities are good. Most importantly the price is quite reasonable. The room has the most important skyline in Shanghai CBD! You get to see the three important tallest building from your window in the hotel room.
The business-class seat is the most luxurious seat and it cost about three times the price of a second class seat and about twice that of the first-class seat. For Shanghai to Suzhou, the prices are as below so you get a rough idea:
Business Class Seat
- RMB 107.5 – 128.5 /USD 16 – 19
First Class Seat
- RMB 54.5 – 69.5/USD 8 – 10
Second Class Seat
- RMB 34.5 – 39.5/ USD 5 – 6
To answer the question -Is it worth it to travel on a Business class seat on China High-Speed Train? My answer is yes but you may not always get your seat as there are only 5 seats available.
Shantang Street is 360 meters long and it is a commercial and cultural street during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. If you want to see the old Suzhou, this is the place to come to experience.
The best time to visit is during the evening and check out the light-up of the lanterns along the canals. Boat rides, snacks hunting, and watching Kunqu opera or Pingtan performances are some of the things you can do in Shantang Street Suzhou. This will give you some taste of old Suzhou.
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.
The Tiger Hill in Suzhou has been here for more than 2500 years and a must-visit since it is also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage sites. The most important icon is the Tiger Hill/ Hu Qiu Pagoda and Huqiu Sword Pond. Please pay attention to the Tiger Hill Pagoda as it is slightly leaning to the one side so it is also known as the “East Leaning Tower of Pisa”.
Now that I have seen Huqiu the Tiger Hill in Suzhou, I can see that Dongpo’s words are true. If you been to Suzhou and never see Huqiu (Tiger hill), it is a shame.
Another popular place in Suzhou is Hanshan Temple also known as Cold Mountain Temple. It gets famous because of the poem called “Maple Bridge at Night “枫桥夜泊. It about 15 mins from Suzhou city by taxi which is the easiest way.
The temple atmosphere, the ancient bridge architecture, the river, and the bell sounds are something you need to pay attention to and relate back to the poem “Maple Bridge at Night” 枫桥夜泊.
What I like about Hotel Soul is, it has an ideal location with easy access to restaurants and shopping nearby. The famous Guanqian Pedestrian shopping street is only within walking distance, 5 mins.
How was second class seats? Well, to be frank, it is too narrow and always full of local tourists. If you have a bigger size body, it is better not to travel with a second class seat, try the first-class seat instead, as it has 2×2 in a row. I am quite petite in size but I still feel the seat is quite narrow. The price between the second class and first class does not make a lot of difference. My ride from Suzhou to Yiwu takes about more than 2 hours and cost RMB161.5 (SGD 32.5)
If you love Mainland Chinese drama, then you should visit Hengdian World Studio, located in Hengdian China. It is the world’s largest movie & Tv shooting base.
At night, part of Guangzhou Street is not open, Hong Kong Street is completely open to the public, and the neon lights of Hong Kong Street are all dynamic and colorful. There are also many shops selling snacks and drinks. It is very lively. At night, Hong Kong Street really has the sight in Hong Kong in the 19th century, the whole atmosphere was just nostalgic.
There are a number of studios in Hengdian with a different theme and Ming & Qing Palace is one of the biggest of all. The size is exactly the same as the Forbidden City in Beijing.
If you love Chinese period drama, you have to visit Hengdian. The whole city is lifely because of the movie/drama industries here.
In Hengdian, you can experience a drama based journey and fulfilled your Princess or Queen’s role.
Qin Dynasty Palace was built in 1997 for a famous director Chen Kaige 陈凯歌 to shoot the historical blockbuster “荆轲刺秦王”. Later many dramas were shot here and one of the famous ones is called 《芈月传》 – The Legend of Miyue which was hit many years ago.
Recent drama -The Story of Minglan 知否知否应是绿肥红瘦 was filmed here too. So you will see many of the familiar scenes here.
In case you are not familiar with the history of Qing Ming Shang He Tu, here is some of the background information. Qing Ming Shang He Tu is translated as Along the River During the Qingming Festival, it is a famous painting by the Song dynasty painter Zhang Zeduan 张择端 and it captures the daily life of people and the landscape of the capital, Bianjing (Kaifeng 开封) during the Northern Song. The painting is considered to be the most renowned work and it has been called “China’s Mona Lisa”
The Qing Ming Shang He Tu studio was built base according to the painting. Everything in the details such as old teahouse and moon-shape bridges is built according to the original painting
Dream Valley is an amusement park in Hengdian. There are combo tickets which include the amusement park too. The highlights of this amusement park for me is not the ride or waterpark but the performances. There are two performances at night that is so awesome that you should not miss it.
If you are not into rides and waterpark like me, the two live performances are just mind-blowing. No doubt about the scale, it is grand. Thanks to the huge numbers of performers and their first-class performances. You know your ticket is well worth the price even if you don’t go for any of the rides.
There aren’t many big hotels with 5 star international standards in Hengdian but many budgets and lower range hotel here. Fengjing Jiali Hotel 丰景嘉丽大酒店 is one of the top hotels in Hengdian. The price is pretty cheap since it is located in a small town.
From Yiwu to Hangzhou, we travel with first class seat on high speed train
If you are thinking of using China high-speed rail to travel around and not sure which class to choose, then my suggestion for you is to travel with first-class seats. It is ideal for foreign travelers, the seats are spacious, comfortable sofa, and you enjoy more privacy. The pricing is also very affordable, just a little higher than in the second class.
From Shanghai to Hangzhou, the distance is 175km and the best way to reach Hangzhou is by high-speed rail which takes an hour and cost RMB50-80 (SGD 10-16.00). There are even direct flights from Singapore to Hangzhou so it is convenient. Hangzhou is the “emerging first-tier city” now in China. China’s city-tier classification is used to track city development.
West Lake is a freshwater lake in Hangzhou, a huge place to explore which is divided into five sections. There are temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within the lake. This part of West Lake that I visited on the first day of arrival in Hangzhou is where the musical fountain performance show is. Nearby, a lot of shopping areas and restaurants.
West Lake in Hangzhou is huge and if you don’t know where to start, follow this post. Bai Causeway, Broken Bridge, and Pinghu Qiuyue and the must-see. You can also add in a boat ride in West Lake, that way you also get to see Broken Bridge from the water. Yes, don’t forget to look at Leifeng Pagoda from far.
Boat ride in West Lake Hangzhou is a must-do, this will enable you to see the stunning view of the surroundings. West Lake is huge and there are many wharves where you can choose to get on a boat ride. You can either choose to do your own self-rowling boats or rowing boats with a professional rower.
Huagang Guanyu is a huge park, we were here at the end of autumn so we were still able to see the beautiful autumn leaves in the backdrop. In the olden time, Huagang Guanyu only had one pond, one monument, and three acres of land here. But after a few generations, the size expanded and increased to 300 acres. In total there are 5 things you can see here, such as fish paradise, peony garden, flower harbor(pond), large lawn, and dense woodland. Among them, fish paradise is the main thing to see. You will find tens of thousands of gold koi fish living in the pond.
There are top 10 important landmarks in West Lake and Ji Hong Qiao is one of them. This secret gem is hidden and not easy to find especially for foreign tourists.
Hupan University is located in West Lake, created by the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma. During our visit to Hangzhou, we visited Hupan University. It is not the traditional University that you see, elsewhere. It is a non-profit and aims to train new generations of entrepreneurs with an entrepreneurial spirit in the era of new business civilization. The target students are mainly entrepreneurs who have been in business for more than three years.
The building inside is simple but yet elegant with ancient architectural style. At the front, there is a river flowing through.
If you are traveling in Hangzhou, you will surely visit West Lake and I suggest you include Zhejiang University since it is only nearby. And you also got to feel and see how the university looks like in China.
It is quite a pleasant campus, spacious, and has enough green areas and trees. The buildings look good and new but can’t find a special unique architecture here.
Hangzhou is famous for its Longjing tea, so you should also include the Longjing tea village in your itinerary. The prime tea harvest season is generally from late March to the end of summer.
Nine creeks in misty forest (Jiuxi Yanshu) are one of the top ten scenery of Lingyin Temple in West Lake. You can see the misty dreamlike forest here, very beautiful all year round. In the autumn, you can check out the most beautiful autumn color, red and yellow maple leaves are found at the backdrop.
The mountain is carved with a collection of Buddhist statues dating back to the 10-14th century. In total there are about 340 ancient stone statues carved into the limestone cave.
Lingyin Temple literally translated as Temple of the Soul’s Retreat. It is one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, located in Hangzhou. It has a long history and somehow Ji Gong was also here so you see Ji Gong’s name are here and there in the souvenir shops.
People usually visit the Fei Lai Feng grottoes and Lingyin temple together as it is only nearby within walking distance.
Wushan Hill, also known as City God Hill, is the only one among all West Lake hill that is located in the downtown area of Hangzhou. Since ancient times, the hill has been treasured for the bird’s eye view on its top that covers the Qiantang River, the West Lake, hills, and the city.
Qinghefang Ancient Street is near the foot of Wushan Hill in Hangzhou. This is a famous pedestrian street to hunt food. The history of Qinghefang Ancient Street can be dated back to the Sui and Tang dynasties. You will be able to see this ancient street fills with old architecture dated back in Ming and Qing dynasties.
There are two Alibaba offices in Hangzhou, one is at Xixi Campus, and another one in Binjiang Park. Ali Baba in Xixiyuan is also called Taobao city, located in Hangzhou Future Science and Technology City. The Xixi Campus is the newest one as compared to the one in Binjiang Park. If you tell the taxi driver you want to visit Ali Baba headquarter, he will ask you which one? The two are located at a different location. Xixi Campus is located about 45mins to an hour taxi ride from Hangzhou city center.
Hangzhou is famous for its signature dish called Dongpo Meat but it also has other dishes such as Hangzhou Soy-sauce Duck, Beggar’s chicken 叫花鸡, Stir-Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea 龙井虾仁 and many more. All these dishes are must-have when you are traveling to Hangzhou.
Huachen International Hotel offers a good location to West Lake, the hotel is clean and stylish. The breakfast spread is just awesome, comes with international, both Chinese, and Western cuisine. Another thing I love about this hotel is there is a direct airport bus that brings you directly to the International Airport. The pickup point is right in front of the hotel and you can just get your bus ticket next door at the information center.
Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport is where we use to depart home to Singapore during our Zhejiang and Jiangsu travel. The airport is about 30 km from our Huachen International Hotel in Hangzhou city near West Lake. Our China high-speed train travel cover cities of Shanghai, Suzhou, Yiwu (Hengdian), and Hangzhou. We first arrived at Shanghai Airport and the catch the China High-Speed train to travel around these few cities then depart back home from Hangzhou Airport.
I usually will blog about the airport that I have traveled to and review it. Check it out.