Meet your private guide and driver at your central Shanghai hotel at 9am, and make the approximately 1.5-hour journey to Suzhou by private, comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle.
Founded in 514 BC, the old town of Suzhou is steeped in 2,500 years of history and serves up many well-preserved relics from the past.
Sometimes known as the ‘Venice of the East’ or the ‘Venice of China,’ its canals, stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens all help to make it one of China’s top tourist attractions. The town has also been an important center for China’s silk industry since the days of the Song Dynasty, between 960 and 1279.
On arrival, pay a visit to one of the four most famous gardens in China: The Humble Administrator’s Garden. The largest in Suzhou and a stunning example of a south-eastern Ming-Dynasty classical garden, this immaculate oasis features Lake Taihu rocks, delicate pavilions, ponds, and lush flowers and trees, including 150 types of Bonsai tree.
After exploring here, visit Suzhou’s best-known silk factory, located in the former Japanese concession and housed in what was the Japanese consulate. See the process used to produce China’s famous silk, from the tiny silkworms to the beautiful finished garments.
After your morning tour, enjoy an authentic Chinese lunch at a local restaurant (own expense), and then make an afternoon visit to your choice of one of two ancient water towns: Zhouzhuang or Tongli. Both offer picturesque natural landscapes, classical canals, and wonderful examples of Ming- and Qing-dynasty buildings.
If you choose Zhouzhuang — renowned as the first water town in China — take a stroll to soak up its charms and admire its ancient twin bridges. Plus, visit Mr. Shen Wansan’s House, the courtyard residence of a 14th-century tycoon whose wealth inspired the envy of the first of China's Ming emperors.
Admire the classical architecture of Shen’s House as you learn about his fascinating life, and take an optional boat trip (own expense) along Zhouzhuang’s beautiful canals.
If you choose to visit Tongli, take in its UNESCO-listed Tuisi Garden, one of the most splendid Qing-dynasty gardens in China. Admire the pavilion-dotted garden, see Tongli’s famous ring of three bridges, and enjoy an optional gondola boat ride (own expense) along the serene and pretty canals.
Your tour then finishes with a transfer and drop-off back at your hotel in downtown Shanghai.