Suzhou

Overview

Introduction

Lying about 60 mi/95 km west of Shanghai, south of the Yangtze River delta, Suzhou, China, is a picturesque city in the coastal province of Jiangsu. One of the cities on the Grand Canal, it is often seen as a day trip from Shanghai (it's 30-90 minutes by rail, depending on the speed of your train). Another reason people see it as a day trip is that Shanghai has the closest international airports, which means people are likely to pair visits to the two cities together.

Suzhou was founded in 514 BC, and from its beginnings it developed an atmosphere somewhat like Venice, crisscrossed by numerous canals, offshoots of the Grand Canal from Beijing to Hangzhou, which runs through the province. More than 40 percent of the city is covered in canals, ponds and streams. Marco Polo originally gave the city its name, the "Venice of the East," which later became the "Venice of China." It was once the old capital of the Wu Kingdom, and the city lies on the edges of Lake Jinji, which is the largest lake in inland China.

If you're going on a day trip from Shanghai, you'll have to rush to try to see all of Suzhou's sights in one day, so we recommend spending one or two nights there. There are more than 60 preserved gardens in town, nine of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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