Suzhou and Tongli – Two Day Shanghai Tour

“Tongli town is sometimes called the Little Venice of China because of the beautifully intricate network of canals running through its historical alleyways and buildings. The wider area of Suzhou is also home to some of China’s greatest classical gardens. In this fascinating two day you will explore the cultural sights of Suzhou on foot, by rickshaw and by boat.” 


More Features of this China Tour

  • See the Tongli water town aboard a small gondola-like boat.
  • Enjoy a freshly prepared local-style meal for lunch on both days of the tour, plus a Western-style breakfast buffet on Day Two.
  • Accommodation is included.
  • You will have a private tour guide and driver.


Day One Itinerary

You will be accommodated in Shanghai at either our 5-star hotel option at the Pan Pacific Suzhou or our 4-star option at the Jasmine Holiday Inn. Your friendly English speaking guide will escort you from your hotel lobby to your transportation.

If you wish to arrive in the morning by bullet train, talk to us so that we can organize your tickets and arrange to pick you up from the train station.

The drive to Suzhou is about 1 ½ hours and the first destination will be the Humble Administrator’s Gardens. Being one of China’s most highly regarded classical gardens, this is a must see spot in Suzhou. This extensive garden stretches across 13 acres, including many islands, bridges, pagodas and open spaces.

The next stop is the Master of the Nets Garden, where you can see the Three Steps Bridge. As the name suggests, this tiny stone bridge requires only three steps to cross. This garden has been called a ‘metaphysical masterpiece’ that often plays with the sense of size and space using ingenious optical illusions.

Lunch will be provided at a local restaurant, with famous Suzhou cuisine favourites like sweet and sour mandarin fish, set into the shape of a squirrel.

Next, we will take a rickshaw ride through the town of Suzhou to observe the local lifestyle and culture. You will pass by schools, markets and historical site like pagodas and ancient wells.

This is the end of the set itinerary for today. If you are looking for something to do in the evening, consider the ‘Night Garden’ traditional music performances on offer at the Garden of the Master of Nets. These run from mid-March through to mid-November, starting at 7:30pm. The performances include Ping Tan (ballad singing and storytelling), the Kungu Opera, flute and Chinese zither (a stringed instrument) performances.


Day Two Itinerary

You will enjoy a Western-style buffet breakfast in your hotel at Suzhou. The first destination after this is Tiger Hill, or Surging Sea Hill.

The hill stands 35 metres high, covering 3.5 acres. It is the site of many Chinese legends, including the Sword-Testing Rock, which was supposedly cut cleanly in half by a magical sword. At the bottom of the Leaning Tower Plaza there is also a place called Thousand People Rock where the thousand construction workers who built the tower were executed by the son of Wu King Helu to keep the location of his father’s burial secret. The hill has a history spanning 2500 years.

The next destination is Tongli water town, often called the Little Venice of China. We will see the historical stone buildings and streets from a aboard a small boat, before enjoying lunch at a local restaurant.

This brings the tour to close, and we can drive you back to your hotel in Shanghai. Don’t forget to join our Facebook group to share the best photos and memories with your guides and group.

If you are interested in architecture, you might want to make your own way to see the Suzhou Museum instead of going directly back to Shanghai. The museum was designed by Ieoh Ming Pei, who also designed the Louvre Pyramid in France. It is an architectural masterpiece, combining modern architecture with classical gardens designs.


Things to Note


The Best Time to Visit Suzhou

The gardens of Suzhou are beautiful all year round, and have a different ‘vibe’ with each season. The only times to avoid are Chinese holidays including May 1st and October 1st-7th, because the park will be very busy with domestic tourists.


Nearby Destinations

If you are designing a travel plan, Shanghai and Hangzhou are both excellent destinations to visit before or after Suzhou because they are easily accessible by train and have worthwhile attractions.

At Shanghai, you can see the Shanghai World Financial Centre, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Yuyuan Gardens and the Bund.

At Hangzhou, you can taste Dragon Well (Longjing) tea and see the West Lake and Grand Canyon.

Destination Train Schedule Duration
Shanghai 5:00–23:00
146 trains per day
Hangzhou 8:00–19:00
13 trains per day
1hour 26m– 2hours 6m


Your Professional Guide

Throughout this tour, you will have a very friendly and knowledgeable English-speaking guide. They may be able to answer any questions you have as well as assisting you with any problems.


Meta Description

“Explore the great classical gardens of Suzhou and the water town of Tongli in this captivating two day tour. Enjoy delicious local cuisine for lunch and see some iconic sites including Tiger Hill and the Garden of the Master of Nets.”


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