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Classical Gardens of Suzhou

The art of the traditional Chinese garden was popular among wealthy Chinese during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and nowhere is the classic beauty of these gardens more evident than in Suzhou, a city located 50 miles (81 kilometers) northwest of ... 

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5 star rating: Highly Recommended
November 2012

The Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Day Trip from Shanghai provided an excellent opportunity to economically and efficiently explore some different parts of China. We chose this trip because we wanted to visit a silk factory, but the tour provided so much more of interest. The silk factory tour was most comprehensive. We also appreciated the fact that this trip transversed many different areas: cities, urban developments, rural countryside, canals, historic gardens and traditional houses. The guide was most informative and helpful. We were pleased with the flexibility that was available so that special interests could be accommodated. In summary, a most worth-while experience.

Doing what: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Day Trip from Shanghai

Julie
Poland

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
June 2012

Great escape from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai. Seeing Suzhou and Zhouzhuang is like being in a different world - completely different than China's big cities. The gardens in Suzhou are a must-see! I highly recommend this day trip to anyone wanting to catch a glimpse into the untouched China.

Doing what: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Day Trip from Shanghai

Amy F
Australia

5 star rating: Highly Recommended
August 2010

Zhouzhuang Water Village is a beautiful look into traditional China and a nice contrast from the busy and modern Shanghai. I can not recommend this day trip enough. Zhouzhuang is clearly on show for tourists, but I still found it authentic and a joy to wander through. If you do one day trip from Shanghai, make it to here. We also went to lovely traditional ancient house gardens in Suzhou which were peaceful, and our guide was great at explaining the history and way of life of centuries ago. There was also a stop at a silk factory in Suzhou which shows great behind the scenes workings of making silk. There is a chance to stock up on silk productsgifts for friends back home, but I didn't feel pressured to buy which was good. The day our tour group went there were only four of us was 40 degrees -- hot weather -- yet our guide Maggie was patient, and made sure we didn't miss anything, although we were keen to keep out of the sun. She was brilliant. Maggie was enthusiastic, friendly, and very flexible with our requests. She was great!

Doing what: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Day Trip from Shanghai

4 star rating: Recommended
June 2013

Zhouzhuang is a 'must' but Suzhou was disappointing.Zhouzhuang is one of the most beautiful places i've been in China.Suzhou gardens were nothing special, the Yu garden in Shanghai is similar. The lunch was fabulous, and our guide and driver were really nice too.If you want to do something special outside of Shanghai choose a half-day tour to Zhouzhuang only...

Doing what: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Day Trip from Shanghai

Debbie A
Malaysia

4 star rating: Recommended
October 2012

Given that I can only say Hello and Thank You in Chinese this tour was a life saver. I would never have gotten to these areas and seen what I did purely as you need to be able to read the signs and communicate with the locals if you get lost.
The tour in Suzhou in both gardens was very quick, unfortunately due to the pace I did not listen to the guide explaining the history as I was busy trying to get some photos….I am a photo nut. However I am very glad I have seen them.
The only thing I would change would be the length of time we spent at the Silk Factory, personally for me the time allowed to shop was too long but I am sure there are others that thought it was too short.
I would have loved to have spent more time at Zhouzhuang, especially as the sun was starting the sun and the light was almost perfect.
I was taking this tour on my own so it was very good for me I had a fabulous time.

Doing what: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Day Trip from Shanghai

4 star rating: Recommended
August 2012

It takes 2.5hrs to get to Hangzhou by car from Shanghai so there is a lot of time spent on the road on this tour. If you only have time for 1 day tour in Shanghai, l would recommend the Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village day trip. However, if you have extra time and enjoy gardens, tea and nature, this is still worth the time. My friend and l both enjoyed our time here. To make this tour more attractive, l would suggest that lunch should be arranged at one of the local home/teahouses around the tea plantations so you get more of a local culinary experience. Also, though West Lake is the main attraction in Hangzhou, l would recommend that some more time be allocated to have a free wonder at Nine Creeks as it was quite a beautiful park, and cooler! Note that the tour does not cover a walk inside the Pagoda.

Doing what: Hangzhou - Heaven on Earth Day Trip from Shanghai

3 star rating: Worth doing
October 2013

On the positive side we covered a lot of geography and time. Frank was nice and easy to talk to.

On the negative side I was hoping for more of a walking or water experience in Suzhou. The gardens were packed. The loud speakers other guides carried annoying and hard to hear what Frank was saying. Also it would have been nice to experience the water town in a less hurried, less crowded way. The boat ride was great.

I think if there was a number I could have called prior to booking then I could have adjusted my expectations a bit. We spent a lot of time in the silk factory which was interesting but not my priority. Once again if I had the opportunity to check things out beforehand, I think that would have helped my expectations.

We were the last to be picked up so thought we would be the first to get off. Instead we were in the van for about 2and1/2 hours while the driver dropped everyone else off at theirhotels during the evening rush hour. We were staying with family in nw Shanghai. My understanding was that the driver and guide also lived in the area so maybe that is why. We are older so that part was tiring after the long trip from the water town.

Somehow I was also confused about it being a private tour. Maybe private tour meant a smaller van. Anyway I was expecting a driver and guide for the quoted price for the two of us. Once again it would have been helpful to get more details ahead of time and know what to expect.

As far as the tip that would also have been good to know what was customary. The amount I gave was I felt a fair amount considering it was a group albeit a small group and the length of t ime we wereon the bus at the time. However this did not seem to meet the ecxpectations of the driver and guide.
The van was a pretty rough ride. Maybe it was the roads or the suspension or both. The AC worked well which we were grateful for. The headrest covers could have been cleaner.
So overall, I am glad we went. Different expectat

Doing what: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Day Trip from Shanghai

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better
October 2014

I would give our tour guide Frank 5 stars. Very friendly nice guy telling us about average life in this part of china. However I felt like we did not see very much. The food at lunch time was quite bad, not authentic chinese food. I have eaten better food at the street stalls. We should have started picking up guests earlier, as it took a long time going around to different hotels to pick them up. The tour made it sound like we were going to visit a GARDEN in Suzhou, however it was more of an old villa for a rich person in ancient China. I have seen much nicer gardens. We drove buy the public parks in Suzhou which looked much nicer. The silk factory was interesting, however it was obvious this stop was meant to buy things, so I spent most of the time waiting around so much. All in all, I felt like it was quite expensive for the small amount that we saw. I am much more used to travelling on my own, and could have done things much cheaper by train, taxi and public transport. I was also younger 34, and I think his tour is better meant for older people than are not comfortable outside of their own country.

Doing what: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Day Trip from Shanghai

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better
June 2013

Zhouzhuang village was very interesting as was the Suzhou Silk Spinning factory.
However, I thought Suzhou Gardens was very disappointing and could be removed
from the itinary. Lunch was provided at 1130 which was much too early. Too much
time was wasted in Suzhou Gardens and also outside Zhouzhang village.

Doing what: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Day Trip from Shanghai

2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better
December 2010

Nov. 6,2010. We took this tour with high expectations, but to our disappointment, the garden in Suzhou was a let down. We had expected to see the administrators garden and the lingering garden, but they took us to the master of nets garden which we found out later was the least expensive and the smallest of all four gardens in Suzhou. We offered to pay for our own entrance fee to the administrators garden, which by the way was only a couple of blocks away from where we were, but the tour company wanted us to pay an additional 30 yuan per per person to drive us there, we were seven people in the mini van. In my opinion far too expensive considering the price we paid for the entire tour. We then decided to take a cab to the location, but we waited a half hour for one that never showed up . Afterwards we were taken to the next destination Zhouzhuang water village , thankfully this tour was worth it, but again we arrived one hour and a half prior to our being allowed to enter the old village.,the reason for this is apparently because the cost to enter was cheaper after three o'clock. Funny how they keep insisting that morning that we did not have enough time to visit the larger gardens. All in all I would recommend that you take a long distance bus available from the stadium to these locations and do it at your own pace and see exactly what you desire.

Doing what: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Day Trip from Shanghai

1 star rating: I do not recommend this
November 2010

This was a complete waste of a day and funds. It is unfortunate that the guide was silent most of the trip; unless asked questions by passengers she did not share any history, perspective nor information on what we were seeing as the countryside and city scapes rolled by. We had to prompt her to even share that we were passing by rice fields! It's also a very commercial tour -- dominated by the silk factory (where the lunch as inedible) and the Zhouzhaung Water Village -- which is a complete tourist trap. The Master of the Nets garden is not nearly as nice as YuYuan Gardens in Shanghai, and the brief stop on the river canal in Suzhou is really quite awful given the vendors tugging at your sleeves. Please do not take this tour.

Doing what: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Day Trip from Shanghai

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