Often referred to as the 'Venice of China', Suzhou is a city of winding rivers and canals, arched bridges and beautiful ornamental gardens. Located in the southeast corner of Jiangsu province, the city covers approximately 8,500 sq km and has a population of more than 6 million. It is within easy reach of Shanghai by both road and rail.
As long ago as the 13th century when Marco Polo declared Suzhou 'a very noble city', Suzhou has been attracting visitors, and despite the city's sprawling industrial and residential growth, it retains a timeless ambience. Its narrow tree-lined streets and cobbled alleyways are ideal for exploring by foot or by bicycle, and many of the city's gardens, museums and temples are within easy reach of the city center. The city's waterways are also a wonderful vantage point from which to witness daily life and trips on small canal boats are popular with visitors.
Historically, Suzhou has a much less colorful past than its neighbor Nanjing. Created around 500BC by Prince He Lu of Wu who literally carved Suzhou out of the swamps, the city had a tradition of luring men of culture rather than men of power. It was these learned citizens who were responsible for creating the beautiful gardens for which Suzhou is renown. The most notable are the 16th century Humble Administrator's Garden, the romantic Lingering Garden, the tiny Garden of the Master of Nets, and the city's oldest garden, the Pavilion of Blue Waves.
Suzhou is famous for its hand made sandalwood fans, mahogany carvings, colorful lanterns and Wumen Paintings.