Tiger Hill

Top choice in Suzhou

In the far northwest of town, Tiger Hill is a major drawcard for Chinese tourists, and the beacon that draws them is the leaning Cloud Rock Pagoda (云岩塔, Yúnyán Tǎ) atop the hill. The octagonal seven-storey pagoda was built in the 10th century entirely of brick, an innovation in Chinese architecture at the time. It began tilting over 400 years ago, and today the highest point is displaced more than 2m from its original position.

The hill itself is artificial and is the final resting place of He Lu, founding father of Suzhou. He Lu died in the 6th century BC and myths have coalesced around him – he is said to have been buried with a collection of 3000 swords and be guarded by a white tiger (hence the name of the hill). He Lu was also a patron of Sun Tzu, the military advisor and author of The Art of War – you'll find a shrine dedicated to him in the northwest corner of the complex.

Take a break at Clouds Melted in Tea Fragrance, a working tea plantation hidden away on the northern hillside, where you can sip fresh tea in serene, wooded surrounds.

Tourist bus Y1 from Suzhou station goes to the north gate. Otherwise it's a pleasant 3km walk or 20-minute boat ride (¥50, every 25 minutes) along the canal from Shantang Jie.