Originally the home of a prince, the oldest garden in Suzhou was first built in the 11th century, and has been repeatedly rebuilt since. Instead of attracting hordes of tourists, the wild, overgrown garden around the Blue Wave Pavilion is one of those where the locals actually go to chill and enjoy a leisurely stroll.
Look out for a ‘temple’ whose dark walls are carved with the portraits of more than 500 sages, and the ‘pure fragrance house’ has some impressive furniture made from the gnarled roots of banyan trees.
Combined tickets (high/low season ¥40/30) include entrance to Kě Yuán, the academic garden directly opposite Blue Wave. Suzhou Library was established here in 1914 and the garden spent much of the 20th century as administrative offices before being revitalised and opened to the public in 2014.