Saturday, September 19, 2015

Plan Your Visit to Suzhou, China

If you are interested in visiting unique places filled with rich culture, ancient architecture, music, and 2,500 years of history then Suzhou, China will be perfect for your next holiday destination. The city of Suzhou located along the southeastern edge of Jiangsu Province in eastern China is bordered by the Yangtze River in the north, and is one of the hottest travel destinations in China. This ancient city that founded in 514 BC, has a history of over 2,500 years with lots relics and sites of historical interest. The unique characteristics of the past are still retained today.
Suzhou is divided by the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal from north to south and includes a number of ponds, bridges, pagodas, and beautiful gardens. These exquisite classical gardens were built and owned by wealthy families and emperors long time ago. I really like the beauty in classical Chinese gardens, which we experienced during our visit to the Montreal Botanical Garden. Classical Chinese garden design flourishes in Suzhou where nine of the city’s gardens have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Two of these gardens, Humble Administrator’s Garden and Lingering Garden are considered the most famous gardens in all of China. 

Dating back to 1509, Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest in Suzhou and considered one of the greatest examples of quintessential Chinese landscape design. The design of this garden contains numerous pavilions and bridges set among a maze of connected pools and islands.

Lingering Garden blends manmade construction and nature’s beauty into one scenic experience. Built in 1593 and famous for its stunning architecture, Lingering Garden spans an area of almost nine square miles. The garden is divided into four distinct themed sections: East, West, Central and North. Each area serves a unique purpose and can be explored by way of a connecting corridor bedecked in ancient inlaid calligraphy.

One of the best ways to enjoy the history and beauty of Suzhou’s landmarks, and waterside gardens is relaxing in the front row seat on a hand-steered canal boat. Suzhou’s narrow water passages are some of the oldest in the world and perfect for any traveler looking to take in the city’s original charm. Living up to the nickname "Venice of the East," Suzhou’s water towns are some of the oldest and most charming in the world. These feature beautiful bridges, flowing waters, and unique architecture. While on the boat, we can reach out and touch the plants in the garden of Mudu as you float by with the gentle backdrop noise of the boat’s soft paddle touching the water. Or, float beneath the famed bridges of the Wujiang District where newlyweds routinely cross in the hopes the tradition will bring them happiness, peace, and fortune.

What better way to absorb more than 2,500 years of history than visiting one of Suzhou’s fascinating museums. Due in part to Suzhou’s pristine preservation of its culture and heritage, Suzhou’s museums are both enriching and abundant. Located adjacent to the Humble Administrator’s Garden is the Suzhou Museum, designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei, where guests are treated to a collection of ancient ceramics, wood carvings, and other cultural artifacts illustrating the past. Known as the "Silk Capital of the World", a longstanding history of silk production remains an integral thread in Suzhou’s cultural fabric. Guests of the Suzhou Silk Museum can experience the silk lifecycle by watching the artisans hard at work, beginning with harvesting the silk (from silkworm to cocoons), before moving on to preparing the silk, and finally spinning the thread.
No Suzhou travel experience is complete unless it includes attendance at one of the city’s numerous festivals, which take place across the city throughout the year. The Hanshan Temple Bell Ringing Festival, for example, takes place every year on Dec. 31. Thousands of people flock to the 1,500-year-old temple to hear the monks strike the bell 108 times to bring good luck in the New Year. Meanwhile, the Spring Festival marks the Chinese New Year and is notorious for its amazing firework display and parade. Festivals are also a remarkable time to enjoy Suzhou's cuisine.

With the gardens, the canal, the history and the culture there is plenty to do in Suzhou and getting to the region has never been easier. Enter the Experience Suzhou: The Venice of China and the City of Scholars sweepstakes at for a chance to win a six-day vacation package to Suzhou. It may just be the trip of a lifetime.

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