Summer is officially here and even though the pollution and weather has drastically improved in Shanghai, we know you still crave an escape. If you and the fam don’t have time to travel to places like Thailand and Vietnam, here are some fun weekend getaways that will offer a change of scenery from Shanghai’s concrete jungle. Best of all, these places are just a short drive or train ride away.
With more than 2,500 years of history, the city of Suzhou is famous for its classical gardens, some of which were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and 2000. Along with all the canals that run through the city, Suzhou is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East.’ While Suzhou is rich of culture, history and scenic surroundings, Suzhou Industrial Park (a separate portion of the city) is certainly worth a visit. SIP is a China-Singapore bilateral project, which is a notable symbol of the city’s rapid growth. While you’ll find plenty of retail and entertainment outlets and museums for your family to visit in this area, the city’s outdoor highlights are not to be missed.
What to See:
The Humble Administrator’s Garden
Considered by some as one of the most beautiful of its kind in southern China, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest classical Suzhou garden in the city. Numerous pavilions, bridges, towers and ponds are found on this nearly 52,000-square-meter complex. Along with the Lingering Garden, Beijing’s Summer Palace and Hebei’s Mountain Resort of Changde, the Humble Administrator’s Garden is one of the four most famous gardens in China.
Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this classical garden is separated into four sections, with the central part being the most integral component. Once a private garden, its Ming- and Qing-style buildings share space with natural elements of a classical Suzhou garden. While it may not be the most exciting place for young kids, it's a good for a nice afternoon stroll and your older children and teens may appreciate the architecture and history the site has to offer.
Located in Suzhou Industrial Park, Jinji Lake is the largest inner city lake in China. Around the area, there is plenty of natural greenery to counterbalance the industrial vibe of the area. With plenty of paths surrounding the lake, you and your family can bike, jog or take a leisure stroll around the lake . If your kids are getting a little fussy and you are looking for something easy, there is also a tour bus that can take you around the area. There are also many restaurants, bars, cafes and shops around the lake, in addition to the Suzhou Ferris Wheel – Asia’s largest on-water Ferris wheel (120 meters high).
Suzhou is about 100 kilometers northwest of Shanghai, and a one-way trip between the two cities takes approximately 1-1.5 hours on the Nanjing-Shanghai Expressway. However, high-speed train is the best option and takes only about 30 minutes one-way.
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