Garden of the Master of the Nets

Top choice gardens in Suzhou

Off Shiquan Jie, this pocket-sized garden is considered one of Sūzhōu's best preserved. Laid out in the 12th century, it went to seed and was later restored in the 18th century as part of the home of a retired official turned fisherman (hence the name). A striking feature is the use of space: the labyrinth of courtyards, with windows framing other parts of the garden, is ingeniously designed to give the illusion of a much larger area.

The central section is the main garden and the western section is an inner garden with a courtyard containing the master’s study. Trivia nuts note: the Peony Study was used as the model for the Astor Court and Ming Garden in the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

In the warmer months (March to November), music performances (¥100) are held nightly here from 7.30pm.

There are two ways to the entry gate, with English signs and souvenir stalls marking the way: you can enter from the alley on Shiquan Jie; or via Kuojiatou Xiang (阔家头巷), an alley off Daichengqiao Lu (带成桥路).