The Chinese city of Suzhou is known as ‘Venice of the East’, because of its canals, lakes, and rivers that intertwine and criss-cross. Every year it draws a huge amount of visitors from all over the world. By Tara Choudhary

Suzhou is just 100 km to the west of Shanghai, in Jiangsu Province. Being established as a city over 2,500 years ago, it teams with culture and historical gems. Its breathtaking architecture complete with stone bridges, sprawling gardens, and pagodas attracts tourists, but the waters within it are what make it one of the most beautiful places in China.

If you take a trip through the canals, you will witness the daily lives and musings of the residents of Suzhou. There is a sense of serenity and calm in the pace of local life; the inhabitants are not in a hurry to get anywhere or do anything, and that defines the city’s charm and atmosphere. However, Suzhou also has some spectacular sights you can peruse as you absorb the relaxed pace of the locals yourself.

If you head to the Pingjiang Road, you will have access to the Suzhou’s artistic side as there are many bookstores and local opera theatres in this area that are frequented by locals and tourists alike. This road runs parallel to Pingjiang River and is dotted with elegant houses and buildings. There are also many teahouses in this area, where people gather for ballad singing, telling of traditional stories, or performances.

Since the city is 42% water, in order to completely absorb and see Suzhou, you cannot travel only by foot, and will have to take a highly-recommended boat tour. The fee for these boat rides isn’t too steep and the boat operators wear traditional attire and sing Chinese folk songs to the people aboard.

Being celebrated as a city of water and with its high culture and refinement as well as the simplicity of the local lifestyle, Suzhou offers an unrivalled experience for anyone who wants to go a bit deeper into China and its culture.

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