One of the most famous places in Suzhou is the Humble Administrator’s Garden (cn. 拙政园 Zhuōzhèng Yuán). It’s was created in 1513 by an Imperial Envoy and poet – Wang Xiancheng. Currently it’s the largest garden in Suzhou (the entrance fee is also the highest – 70 RMB ~12$). Maze of bridges, islands and pavilions makes it a perfect place for spending peaceful afternoon. Just don’t go there too late. They close the garden at 18.00.
After calming your spirit at the ancient classical garden you will get back to more materialistic world. Literally. The entrance to the Humble Administrator’s Garden is at Dongbei Street (one of the main merchandise streets in Suzhou). In other words… it’s time for shopping!
- Silk scarf – just remember to read tags very carefully (something like “100% silk feeling” is quite common)
- Embroidery – the price depends on the size, technique, material, and weather or not it is handmade. The most expensive is double-sided embroidery (Suzhou specialty). For picture made in this technique (with diameter around 15cm) you’ll have to pay at least 200 RMB. Normal silk embroidery can be bought even for 40 RMB. Just remember to haggle when you’re buying something. The price you’ll hear from the seller would probably be twice higher than it’s worth. You shouldn’t also expect anything original. In each shop you’ll find the same motives (they are embroidered according to a pattern). You’ll find many souvenir shops on Dongbei Street and around Xuanmiao Taoist Temple.
- Xun – egg-shaped flute made of clay or ceramic (for more, check the post "Xun - original souvenir"). It’s one of the oldest instruments in China and one of the basic in Taoist music. Even if you’re not very musical, it will simply make an interesting souvenir from the trip to China (something different than usual fans, chopsticks and embroidery). You can find them at stands around Xuanmiao Taoist Temple. They have different sizes. The one with 6 holes should cost around 30 RMB. If you’ve paid more – you’re a looser.
If you’re planning on visiting China you should definitely put Suzhou on the must-see list. (you can safely skip Shanghai for that purpose).
If you’re going to visit many cities on your way, Suzhou is the best place to buy souvenirs. Everything is much cheaper than in other famous cities.
Have a nice time!