The Classical Gardens of Suzhou, typical traditional Chinese gardens, have been listed into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. Most of them are private gardens built from the Spring and Autumn Period to the Qing Dynasty. Nowadays, there are more than 60 well-preserved gardens and only 19 of them open to the public.
Humble Administrator’s Garden and Lingering Garden are the most beautiful gardens which should not to miss in Suzhou. As Suzhou gardens are quite similar, travelers can arrange to visit 1 or 2 gardens which are enough.
1. Humble Administrator's Garden (拙政园)
Humble Administrator’s Garden is the top one private garden among Suzhou private gardens. Located in Pingjiang District, it is the biggest and the most famous garden in Suzhou and one of top 4 Chinese Gardens. The garden is based on water and consists of pavilions, long passages, rockeries, etc. It is a representative garden of the Ming Dynasty.
The garden is divided into 3 parts consisting of East, Middle and West Garden. The Middle Garden is the essential part of the Humble Administrator’s Garden. In the south of the garden, travelers can see typical Suzhou residences. In addition, Suzhou Garden Museum in the area is the only Garden Museum in China. The museum shows different ways of gardening.
Address: No. 178 Northeast Street, Pingjiang District, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province (江苏省苏州市平江区东北街178号)
Ticket: 70 CNY (Apr. 16th to Oct.30th); 50 CNY (from Ooc.31th to Apr.15th)
Opening hours: 07:30~17:30
How to get there: Tourism Bus 1, 2 and 5; Bus 40, 178, 202, 301, 309, 313, 518, 529 and 923
2. Lingering Garden(留园)
Together with Summer Palace in Beijing, Chengde Mountain Resort, Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou, Lingering Garden is one of top 4 Gardens in China. It is an exquisite but beautiful Jiangnan style garden and famous for its amazing stones. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Chinese National 5A sites.
Compared with Humble Administrator’s Garden, it is less crowded. Visitors can see a lot of rockeries and there are some lotus flowers opening in the water in summer. Besides, there are free pingtan performances in Lingering Garden. Pingtan is storytelling and ballad singing in Suzhou dialect.
Address: No.338, Liuyuan Road, Jinchang District Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province (江苏省苏州市金阊区留园路338号)
Ticket: 40 CNY at busy season; 30 CNY at low season
Opening hours: 07:30-17:00
How to get there: Tourism Bus 1,3 and 5; Bus 6, 7, 22,33, 44, 70, 85, 88, 91, 101,103 and 317.
3. Master of the Nets Garden (网师园)
Master of the Nets Garden was constructed in the Song Dynasty and original called Yuyin and changed into Master of the Nets Garden in the Qing Dynasty. It is a typical Jiangnan private garden. Most of its owners are scholars, so you can see a lot of poetries and inscriptions in the garden. There are Kuqu Opera performances every day.
Master of the Nets Garden is the only garden opening to the public at night. If travelers miss a Suzhou garden or want to experience special night garden, Master of the Nets Garden is the best choice. The garden is consisted of a residence, the central main garden and an inner garden. The garden is petty but pretty.
Address: No.11, Kuojietou Lane, Daichengqiao Road, Canglang District, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province(江苏省苏州市沧浪区带城桥路阔街头巷11号)
Ticket: 30 CNY (Apr.16th to Oct.30th); 20 CNY (Oct.31th to Apr.15th)
Opening hours: 07:30 to 17:30(Apr.16-Oct.30);
07:30 to 17:00(Oct.31th to Apr.15th)
19:00 to 22:00(night tour and tickets are stopped selling at 21:00)
How to get there: Take Bus 55,202,529,811 or 931 and get off at Wangshuiyuan Bus Station
4.Great Wave Pavilion(沧浪亭)
Great Wave Pavilion (Canglang Pavilion) is the oldest Suzhou garden built in the Northern Song Dynasty. The garden was owned by scholar Su Shunqi (a famous poet in the Northern Song Dynasty). Near Sanyuanfang in the south of Suzhou, the garden is one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It stands for Suzhou garden of the Song Dynasty. Water goes through the garden which makes the garden more talented.
To visit Great Wave Pavilion in a slight rainy day is a great way to enjoy a traditional Chinese garden. There are orchid exhibitions in the middle to end of February and bamboo exhibitions at the end of September to early October.
Address: No.3, Canglangting Road, Southern Suzhou, Jiangsu Province（江苏省苏州市城南沧浪亭路3号）
Ticket: 20 CNY (Apr.16-Oct.30); 15 CNY (Oct.31th to Apr.15th)
Opening hours: 8:00-17:00
How to get there: Close to Master of the Nets Garden, there are a lot of buses to the garden consisting of Bus 1, 5, 29, 39, 101, 102, 103, 218, 261, 308, 309, and Tourism Bus2, 4, and 5.
5. Lion Grove Garden(狮子林)
As one of top 4 gardens in Suzhou, Lion Grove Garden has a history of more than 650 years and stands for Suzhou garden of the Yuan Dynasty. In the northeast corner of Suzhou City, it is famous for its rockeries. There are a large-scale amazing rockeries with different shapes spread in the garden. There are 9 routes among the rockeries groups. Travelers can see some vivid lion-shape rockeries and go through inside the rockeries.
Lion Grove Garden is influenced by Buddhism culture. It was firstly built in 1342 during the Yuan Dynasty by Monk Tianru to memorize his mater-monk Zhongfeng. As time passed, the garden’s last owned is a rich business man in the Qing Dynasty.
Address: No.23, Yuanlin Road, Pingjiang District, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province(江苏省苏州市平江区园林路23号)
Ticket: 30 CNY (Apr.16-Oct.30); 20 CNY (Oct.31th to Apr.15th)
Opening hours: 07:30~17:00
How to get there: Take Bus 2, 3, 40, 55, 301, 313, 529, 923, and Tourism Bus 1, 2, and 5 and get off at Suzhou Museum Stop.
Built during Guangxu Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Yiyuan Garden was private garden of Gu Wenbin (an official during the late Qing Dynasty). The garden adopted all the advantages of other Suzhou gardens because Yiyuan Garden was the most recently built Suzhou gardens. Its name-Yiyuan Garden means “happiness of brothers” coming from Confucius culture.
It is divided into 2 parts and the west section is essential scenery. Its Western part was the old residence of Wu Kuan who was a minister in the Ming Dynasty. And the other part is based on the garden arrangement of the Humble Administrator’s Garden consisted of water ponds and rockeries. Although it has the shortest history, the garden is one of the most recommended Suzhou gardens.
Address: No. 1265, Renmin Road, Canglang District, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province（江苏省苏州市沧浪区人民路1265号）
Ticket: 45 CNY
Opening hours: 07:30-21:30
How to get there: Tourism Bus 4 and Bus 1, 6, 32, 38, 101, 102, 103, and 112