This week Pam is taking the train to Suzhou to sightsee before starting her Viking River Cruise tour.
Suzhou is Shanghai’s little sister – lying about 115 km (71 mi) from the bustling metropolis. Coincidentally, she is also the sister city of Portland, OR, WIT’s hometown!
Pam is sure to enjoy this peaceful and beautiful town, for centuries nourished by the Grand Canal and as many as 60 gorgeous gardens, many of whom have been recognized on the World Heritage List. The charm of Suzhou is certainly its natural gifts and beauty—dubbed the “Oriental Venice.” Its old style architecture also adds a lingering feel of history and mystique.
photo by wilf2
It’s a great destination for souvenir shopping—away from the hawks in Shanghai, offering a wealth of wares from teas, silks, embroidery, freshwater pearls, sandalwood fans, musical instruments, jade, lanterns and the characteristically sweeping smoking pipes. Expect to have your haggle skills once again challenged. For a special treat, pick up a snuff bottle—tiny, elaborately painted glass bottles that once contained tobacco. Head to the Taoist Temple of Xuanmiao (Mysterious Sublimity) in the old city, where a collection of great local vendors sits just outside the walls.
For a real treat, don’t miss the Humble Administrator’s Garden (and the opera performance hall) or Suzhou Museum, constructed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, best known for his design of the Louvre glass pyramid.
How to Get There: Suzhou is reachable by bus, but most favorably by train—a high-speed train runs frequently from Shanghai and Beijing to any one of four stations around town. Tickets must be purchased at an international ticketing office, available in most large stations. On arrival, expect to wait a while for a taxi—Suzhou is currently in the process of building an underground metro system—but in the meantime, taxis are rare and difficult to track down.
Interested in touring the canal city of Suzhou or any of her neighboring sisters? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 503.224.0180.