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travel talk:
The Perfect Weekend


As visitors pull into Suzhou’s train station on a sleek, white CRH ‘bullet’ train, thoughts turn to UNESCO-listed gardens and historic canals with hump-backed bridges. Also lingering are the words of inveterate 13th century Silk Road traveller Marco Polo who praised “this very great and noble city.”

Today, the city is a vastly different entity to that which charmed the backpacking Venetian. Indeed, two Suzhous have emerged; the increasingly gentrified Old City, and the sprawling ‘New’ Suzhou mini cities centred around Jinji Lake and the Suzhou Industrial Park in the east and Suzhou New District in the west.



Breakfast, fresh coffee and a browse of the bookshelves at Bookworm Café (Gunxiufang 77, Shiqian Lu).


Catch a cab to Pan Men for a stroll along the last remaining section of Suzhou’s old city wall. Climb the ramparts and pretend you can’t see this magnificent old city being transformed into a modern urban centre.


Keep the historical thread going with a visit to the Suzhou Silk Museum, before buying up souvenirs at the adjacent museum store.


Catch a cab to I.M. Pei’s sublime Suzhou Museum for brilliant past-meets-present architectural fusion and a late lunch in the atrium café.

"Make an early start to absorb the beauty of Tiger Hill – and its fine panoramic views and maple trees – before the crowds descend."


Take a post-lunch walk along the peaceful canal banks of Pingjiang district – now blossoming with cafés, boutiques and galleries.


More peace and tranquillity in the gardens and teahouse of the impressive 33 metre high Twin Pagodas.


Another busy week has taken its toll, so indulge yourself with a relaxing pre-dinner treatment at Zen Spa in the grounds of the Garden Hotel Suzhou (99 Daichengqiao).


A romantic dinner-a-deux by the canal at Pinjiang Lodge (33 Niuxia Alley).



Make an early start to absorb the beauty of Tiger Hill – and its fine panoramic views and maple trees – before the crowds descend.


 A long lingering Suzhou Sunday Lunch at De Yue Lou (43 Taijian Lane, Guanqian Lu).


Casually explore the stores, temples and attractions around Guanqian Lu – which forms the heart of downtown Suzhou.


When in Suzhou ... Spend some Sunday reflection time in the Humble Administrator's Garden. By now, the microphone-led tour group crowds should have disappeared.


Time for Tea. Head to Sabai Sabai on Pingjiang Lu for fine local infusions and dreamy homemade cheesecake.


Jump on the fast train back to Shanghai – just remember to buy your ticket well in advance.

Staying There

Kempinski Suzhou, 1 Guo Bin Lu. Tel: (512) 6289 7888.

Grand Metro Park Hotel, 1355 Jinjihu Avenue. Tel: (512) 6280 0666.

Shangri-la Suzhou, 168 Tayuan Lu. Tel: (521) 6808 0168


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