Suzhou hotels china and hotel accommodation guide
Popular Chinese legend states that, "In heaven there is paradise,
and on earth there are Hangzhou and Suzhou". Suzhou (population 5.7
million), has been praised as a "paradise on earth" since ancient
times. Being only two hours from Shanghai, Suzhou has enjoyed great prosperity
and recognition over the years and this is an extraordinarily delicate
and elegant city in parts. However, it is an exaggeration to refer to
this pretty place as "paradise". Like many other cities in China,
the bulldozers and cranes have moved in. There is still a fair amount
to see and the classical and traditional Chinese style and designs here
make a nice change from the modernity of Shanghai.
Suzhou is one of the oldest towns in the Yangtze basin, founded in about
600 BC but really making it's fame one thousand years later when the Grand
Canal was up and running. The great location that the city affords helped
Suzhou become a prosperous trading area and the silk industry especially
boomed here. By the 14th Century, Suzhou had become the leading silk producer
in China and this quaint little retreat became popular with visitors from
the imperial court at Hangzhou. Artists, scholars and painters all retreated
to this "Venice of the East" to seek inspiration and to relax.
Suzhou was one of the few city's in China to escape the ravages of the
cultural revolution and its famous gardens survived almost intact. It
is the gardens here, which are the most famous attraction in the city.
The gardens embody the harmonious principles of Chinese garden construction
which dictate that gardens should attempt to create a microcosm of the
universe in a confined space. Amongst the most charming are the Garden
of the Master of the Nets and the Humble Administrators Garden. The intimate
gardens here are particularly pleasant on a misty day and Suzhou's narrow
streets and lanes can be very romantic and relaxing.
Suzhou's cultural sites and temples are also worth a visit. Hanshan Temple's
distinctive atmosphere and construction are unforgettable. The Temple
of Mystery and West Garden Temple are both excellent examples of Daoist
and Buddhist tradition respectively. Also, Tiger Hill is a great spot
to explore and spend a lazy afternoon in a historical setting. Suzhou's
profound cultural and historical background as an ancient capital have
helped make this one of China's premier tourism cities.
However, the crowds of tourists here can get unbearable and Suzhou is
a favorite with Chinese tour groups who are bussed in and out on day trips.
It's most pleasant therefore, in the early evening when the sun is going
down and the streets are emptying. The canals and quaint little houses
and alleys are charming at this time. Get there fast though, as things
are changing. Hotels, skyscrapers and highways are going up and urban
renewal is eating away at this little area of "paradise".