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Suzhou

An important city renowned for its historical and cultural heritage as well as for its natural beauty, Suzhou rose to prominence as the southern terminus of the Grand Canal, a long waterway that linked the north and south of China. For centuries, Suzhou was well known for its thriving silk industry, its extensive canals and bridges (at one point, it was deemed "the Venice of the East"), and its many gardens, exquisite examples of classic Chinese landscape design. Today, Suzhou is filled with historical attractions, and is easy to navigate due to its logical, grid layout.
An important city renowned for its historical and cultural heritage as well as for its natural beauty, Suzhou rose to prominence as the southern terminus of the Grand Canal, a long waterway that linked the north and south of China. For centuries, Suzhou was well known for its thriving silk industry, its extensive canals and bridges (at one point, it was deemed "the Venice of the East"), and its many gardens, exquisite examples of classic Chinese landscape design. Today, Suzhou is filled with historical attractions, and is easy to navigate due to its logical, grid layout.

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EXPERIENCES

Historic Gardens

The history of gardens in Suzhou can be traced back to 770 BC; four of the city’s gardens are UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Master of Nets (or Fisherman's) Garden, the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the Surging Wave Pavilion, and the Lingering Garden.

Humble Administrator's Garden

Visit the important Humble Administrator’s Garden, originally built in 1509. The largest of the four major gardens in Suzhou and arguably the most storied, it was a private garden of a former government official and poet. Water, in the form of streams and ponds, is the main feature, and its natural landscape includes small forests, hills and rock formations, along with pavilions, halls and parlors. Your guide will explain the intricacies of creating Chinese gardens and how the art is being preserved.

Master of Nets Garden

Along with the Humble Administrator’s Garden and the Lingering Garden, the Master of Nets Garden was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. At the center of this beautiful garden is a large, clear pool, around which runs a long, roofed walkway. Around the pool are a number of artfully arranged trees, rocks, and flowers – as well as a convenient pavilion, from which to view the surroundings. As the original owner of the garden was a high official in the imperial court, many of the residential structures are ornate and highly decorated – befitting a man of his rank.

Shuang Ta Pagodas

With your expert guide, visit the 100-foot tall twin octagonal pagodas of Shuang Ta, built more than 1,000 years ago by brothers as a thank-you gift to their teacher for successfully guiding them through their civil service exams.

Silk Museum and Embroidery Institute

Suzhou is also the silk and embroidery center of China. Have a privately guided curator’s tour of the interesting Silk Museum and Embroidery Institute.

Suzhou Museum

Visit the Suzhou Museum, designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei. The museum houses the extensive artistic and cultural treasures of the 2,500-year-old city, with a special display of works by the “Four Ming Masters” (all from Suzhou) – as well as bronzes and jades from Neolithic and Bronze Age sites. Reflecting traditional Suzhou architecture, the museum’s unique buildings are organized around a series of gardens and courts.

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