A one-kilometre walk north of the old town, Lingyan Mountain, the ‘Cliff of the Spirits’, was once the site of a palace where Emperor Qianlong stayed during his inspection tours of the Yangzi River valley. The mountain is also home to an active Buddhist monastery, Lingyan Shan Temple (灵岩山寺, Língyán Shān Sì). The exhausting climb to the peak offers panoramic views of Suzhou. Tourist bus Y4 goes to Lingyan Mountain from Suzhou’s train station.
On the way up the mountain, the left ramp is busier but will take you past some shrines; the steps on the right take a slightly faster route to the top. Try to avoid visiting at the weekends and public holidays, as it can become very busy.