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travel talk:
Suzhou Special: 48 Hours in Suzhou



Start the day with a quiet drink at the Bi An Tea House on Pinjiang Lu and take a load off before the day starts in earnest.


Pop down to the Suzhou Silk Museum to get a glimpse of the silk production process, starting from the silkworm rearing all the way through the mind-bogglingly complicated weaving process. And if you’re interested, learn a little more about the history of Suzhou’s most famous export.


Jump in a cab to Shiquan Jie for lunch at Fisher Coffee. Eat outside if the weather is good, and watch the boat cruise down the canal as you prepare for the next stop on your tour.


Walk down Shiquan Jie and find your fill of souvenirs: teas, fans, calligraphy brushes, carved hair brushes, silk and combs are all available on this city street. For those not interested in souvenir shopping there are also plenty of places selling the latest fashions.


At this time of the afternoon the garden will be a little less busy. So gather your things and visit the Master of Nets Garden at the end of Shiquan Jie, or go further south to Panmen Gate.


Head to your hotel and drop off your bags. Enjoy the special rate of RMB 888 net per night if you stay in a deluxe room at Crowne Plaza Suzhou for two or more consecutive nights until 28 December, 2011 (Tel: 0512 6761 6688).


Jump in another taxi and head to the SIP.


Take a leisurely stroll around Jinji Lake. Watch the sun set and neon lights appear all around the Ligongdi restaurants, the arching bridges and docks, Rainbow Walk. Look across the lake to see the sparkling Suzhou Science and Cultural Arts Centre (aka Suzhou’s Bird’s Nest).


Pick a restaurant along the lakeside strip: American, German, Japanese, Tex Mex and Belgian are all within walking distance. Or perhaps grab a bite to eat at the newly opened Malone’s.


Follow dinner with drinks and hand-made chocolates at Bruxelles, or party harder at Harry’s. And if you’re really feeling the buzz head back to Shiquan Jie and spend the night bar-hopping to your heart’s content.


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