Suzhou has always been high-up on my list of places to visit in China since many have likened this unique city to Venice, Italy. Since I’ve never had the chance to go to Venice, Suzhou would hopefully offer a similar vibe. Indeed, as I wandered aimlessly through the city, I discovered that there were many canals with boats in them. While these boats did not resemble the gondolas of Venice, this is probably a good thing, or else Suzhou might seem a bit too much like Venice and lose its own special charm. Another unique feature of Suzhou were all the bridges that traversed the canals. Many were round and shapely, while others looked more ancient with decorative flourishes and arches. My first day simply involved wandering around, trying local food and discovering what was there to see and do in Suzhou. I managed to get on one of the Chinese gondolas for a fun ride.
The second day, I found out about the world-famous Master of the Nets Garden. As well as waterways, Suzhou is known for having prime examples of what royal gardens used to look like in dynasties gone past. The Master of the Nets Garden is one of the best examples of this type of garden. This garden is the smallest in all of Suzhou, but it is certainly one of the most beautiful. It was first conceived during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and was restored in 1765. Pavilions, bridges, a residence and plenty of greenery makes this garden an absolute treat to wander through.
I spent my next day exploring Pan Gate or Panmen, in Chinese. It is one of the oldest surviving relics of Suzhou and is estimated to be around 2,500 years old. There are three major sites to see, which are an ancient pagoda, Wu Gate Bridge and Pan Gate. All of these attractions are surrounded by a beautiful canal and strong trees. Pan Gate is actually part of Suzhou’s city wall and is really spectacular to behold. The Ruigang Pagoda is reputed to be the oldest pagoda in all of Suzhou, and Wu Gate Bridge is beautiful in its simplicity of design.