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Suzhou

Historically, Suzhou (苏州, Sūzhōu) was synonymous with high culture and elegance, and generations of artists, scholars, writers and high society in China were drawn by its exquisite art forms and the delicate beauty of its gardens. Suzhou's historic sites have felt the effects of modern building booms, but the city still retains enough pockets of charm to warrant two to three days’ exploration on foot.

And the gardens, Suzhou’s main attraction, are a symphonic combination of rocks, water, trees and pavilions that reflects the Chinese appreciation of balance and harmony. Adding to the charm are some excellent museums, surviving canal scenes and pagodas. The gardens in particular can get busy, so avoid visiting at the weekend or during public holidays, if possible.

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These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Suzhou.

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