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Suzhou, China - Include in itinerary or not?

Suzhou, China - Include in itinerary or not?

Jan 31st, 2001, 05:46 AM
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Suzhou, China - Include in itinerary or not?

This is a follow up post to someone else's request for help with their 10+ day China itinerary. This person is more interested in the natural beauty of the outdoors and in quaint/picturesque surroundings than in concrete hustle and bustle.

I am an American living in Shanghai, and typically recommend to people to skip Suzhou altogether, so I'm interested to hear others' opinions, esp. since this person specifically mentioned wanting outdoor/scenic activities.

Guide books claim that Marco Polo called Suzhou the Venice of the East, and Chinese people have a saying that there are 2 places one can find heaven on earth, Suzhou and Hangzhou. IMHO, Suzhou is by far the nicer of the 2, and I STILL don't recommend it.

Way too overhyped & so overrun w. tourists that you miss the feel of the quiet, meditative gardens. The city itself looks pretty much the same as the outskirts of SH or BJ. Most cities in China have a similar traditional Chinese garden or two you can visit, and if you do a few of those you can have the same basic experience without a separate trip to SZ.

Since they have 10+ days, there's an argument that they have time, but I just don't think SZ offers anything other cities don't. Some people rave about Suzhou, though. I just don't happen to know any of them. What do you all think?
Feb 1st, 2001, 02:25 PM
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Interesting perspective re: Suzhou. I've been to China a couple of times but have never been to Suzhou. I, because of the hype, always felt that I was missing something. Your comment makes a lot of sense. Very few of China's so-called scenic spots are exactly that: unspoiled. Hangzhou was a great disappointment. Lhasa, unfortunately, has been thoroughly drained of its mystique. Strangely enough, I found Beijing to be the only city worth spending some time in....Thanks again for your perspective.
Feb 6th, 2001, 05:02 PM
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Anyone else been there?
Feb 7th, 2001, 08:42 AM
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I enjoyed the 2 gardens in Suzhou that I visited. Any beautiful place eventually gets overrun with tourists who destroy
the atmosphere intended for it. But anyone who likes gardens should not miss Suzhou. I also enjoyed the Classical night that featured different Chinese performing arts (music, dance, etc.)
Other interesting sites are the Grand Canal, the Embroidery Institute, and the silk industry. If a person is not interested in these, then it is a waste of time to visit Suzhou.
Feb 7th, 2001, 10:39 AM
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We enjoyed Suzhou a lot. Took a 1-day trip by train from Shanghai.
We went to several gardens (pleasant, moderately interesting), the silk factory (very interesting), the embroidery factory (very interesting) and embroidery museum (not so interesting for me).
But the most enjoyable part of Suzhou (in my opinion) was just walking around the city. Walk along some of the smaller canals. The views (including the houses that are built right on the canal banks) are very picturesque. You can see here why Suzhou is likened to Venice. Walk along the Grand Canal, through the canal gate (one of the old city gates), watch the canal traffic, and you get a feel for the city that was. Talk to the people (no, we don't speak the language, but we communicate nonetheless), see how they live.
Well worth a day trip (I wouldn't plan an overnight stay).
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