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Suzhou has long been known as a place of culture, beauty, and sophistication. It produced scores of artists, writers, and politicians over the centuries, and it developed a local culture based on refinement and taste. Famous around the world for its carefully designed classical gardens, Suzhou's elegance extends even to its local dialect—Chinese often say that two people arguing in the Suzhou dialect sound more pleasant than lovers talking in standard Chinese.
Unlike in other cities in Eastern China, glass-and-steel office parks have been barred from the Old City center here, and this preservation makes Suzhou a pleasant place to explore. There is excellent English signage on the roads, and the local tourism board has even set up a convenient information center to get you on the right track.
Only an hour outside of Shanghai, the tourist trail here is well worn, and during the high season you will find yourself sharing these gardens with packs of foreign and domestic tour groups. It's worth getting up early to hit the most popular places before the crowds descend.
Suzhou at a Glance
- Blue Wave Pavilion (Cānglàng tíng)
- Grand Canal (Jīngháng dàyùnhé)
- Hanshan Temple (Hánshānsì)
- Humble Administrator's Garden (Zhuōzhèng yuán)
- Joyous Garden (Yíyuán)
- Lingering Garden (Liú uán)
- Lion's Grove Garden (Shīzilín)
- Master of the Nets Garden (Wăngshī yuán)
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