Best Things to Explore in Suzhou: Top 10 Classical Gardens

Outgrowing its original function dedicated to providing a tranquil and meditative atmosphere for ancient Taoist poets, classical Chinese gardens later were much favored by rich families and designed as their private gardens in the Song and Ming dynasties.

There are nearly a hundred classical gardens in Suzhou – a heavenly city on earth. Ten of them are known among the best in China, and form a big draw for travelers and expats in Suzhou.

#1 Humble Administrator’s Garden

The biggest one in Suzhou, and queen of classical Chinese gardens, it is the prototype of Daguan Garden of “A Dream in Red Mansions”, one of the four great novels in ancient China. Here visitors can also watch the graceful Kun Opera.

Suzhou Classical garden

#2 Lingering Garden

One of China’s four classical gardens (along with Humble Administrator’s Garden, Summer Palace and Chengde Mountain Resort), Lingering Garden features 700-meter-long undulating corridors that connect the archways, pavilions, ponds and artificial hills.

top Chinese classical gardens

#3 Lion Grove

Built in 14th Century, Lion Grove is quite small but shows subtle sophistication in the layout.

Suzhou highlights tour

#4 Garden of Net Master

Another representative works of classical Chinese gardens, Garden of Net Master was built in 1174, and was home to many ancient scholars and litterateurs.

Suzhou classical garden tours

#5 Canglang Pavilion

The oldest classical garden in Suzhou, it was built in 1044 during North Song Dynasty.


#6 Couple’s Retreat Garden

The special yellowstone rockery, classical courtyards, small and exquisite pavilions, long winding corridors, and ponds with bridges constitute harmonious and varied scenes.

cultural heritage sites in Suzhou

#7 Tiger Hill

Surrounded by pretty natural scenery, Tiger Hill attracts people by grand old trees and the century-old Tiger Hill Pagoda.

#8 Tuisi Garden

Water is the theme of Tuisi Garden in Tongli Ancient Town, suburb of Suzhou. An outstanding red marble boat leans against the water.

Classical Suzhou Tour

#9 Meditation Garden

3km west of Tongli, Suzhou, Meditation Garden stands out for the stunning Lingbi stones displayed in the Rare Stone Museum.

Suzhou culture tour

#10 Hanshan Temple

It is a Buddhist garden and houses dozens of Qing Dynasty architectures and beautiful Buddhist statues.

 Suzhou cultural heritages

Stroll in the Classic Suzhou Gardens

Located 100 km away from Shanghai (it takes only half an hour from Shanghai to Suzhou by high speed train, which runs every ten minutes or so), Suzhou is a beautiful garden city with a history of about 2500 years, and today known as the “Venice of Orient”. In December, I had a joyous day tour in Suzhou and was very pleased to find canals, arched stone bridges, and low, white washed houses with black roof still stand quietly in this old city.

Ursule’s Stroll in the Classic Suzhou Gardens

Garden of Net Master

The highlight of my Suzhou tour was the visit of Garden of Net Master (网师园) and Humble Administrator’s Garden (拙政园), which are two of Suzhou’s four most famous classic gardens.


Garden of Net Master was first built during the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279). It is small in size (covering an area of about half a hectare) but a really elegant garden, well designed and meticulously constructed, with Song-dynasty style furnishing. The surrounding scenery including a pond, roofed walkways and pavilions are also fascinating to visitors.

Humble Administrator’s Garden ( with an area of 1.867 hectares) is much bigger than Garden of Net Master, and can be traced back to Tang Dynasty. A winter visit to this ancient garden was so nice without crowds. Just take time to stroll, see into the lives of the family centuries ago, enjoy the fresh air and numerous pavilions and bridges set among a maze of connected pools and islands…

Ursule’s Stroll in the Classic Suzhou Gardens

Humble Administrator’s Garden