Exploring Suzhou, China, Venice of the East

suzhou grand canal main gingerbread

Master Garden of the Nets

master garden of the nets water

buildings at master garden of the nets.

Room at the garden of the nets

  • The Master of the Nets Garden is the smallest but most impressive of the Suzhou residential gardens. In the 1100’s the studies in the central gardens were filled with books and the garden was known as the Hall of Ten Thousand Books. Then, in the 1600’s it became known as the Fisherman’s Retreat.

rocks at master of the nets garden

me at master garden of the nets suzhou

  • In 1997, the Master of the Nets Garden was added to UNESCO World Heritage List. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization encourages preservation of irreplaceable cultural and natural heritage while providing life and inspiration around the world. 

master garden of the nets pavilion

Yinjing Bridge Suzhou

  • The garden is divided into 3 sections: the central garden, inner garden, and residential section. The central garden is filled with pathways, vegetation, and buildings surrounding a pond. Each rock, tree, and structure is perfectly placed to create a tranquil retreat. All rooms lead to the pond, including the Ribbon Washing Pavilion, Peony Study, and Moon and Wind Pavilion. One of the structures in the garden can only be accessed by Yinjing Bridge, a small stone bridge less than 12 inches wide.

The Grand Canal

homes along the grand canal

entrance to suzhou canal

  • The Grand Canal in Suzhou, a traditional Chinese water town, is known as Venice of the East.  A entrance announces the beginning of Shantang Street, also known as the Seven Mile Shantang

boats in the grand canal

red building at grand canal suzhou

  • The Grand Canal reaching over 1,100 miles begins in Beijing and ends in Hangzhou. It is the longest and oldest man-made waterway in the world. Many boats offer tours through the canal passing over 20 stone bridges, 10 city gates, 2 temples, and homes along the river. 

mitch in suzhou china

along the grand canal in suzhou

cafe along the suzhou canal

  • The canal is lined with shops selling everything imaginable, restaurants, and cafes. Getting caught in the rain, we easily find an umbrella for 15 Yuan, about $2.50 USD in a nearby shop. We recommend, but unfortunately are unable to located the name of this small, eclectic restaurant filled with strings of lights, memorabilia, a small stage, and American Christmas music. The Jasmine tea arrives unfiltered and still isn’t cool enough for me to drink after an order of dumplings and 2 beers.

Traveling Gingerbread Note: Many restaurants displaying Coffee Bar in the name sell alcoholic beverages. 

suzhou grand canal

grand canal at night

  • We watch the canal transform as night begins to fall. Red lanterns flicker on one by one, store advertisements in Chinese begin illuminating the sidewalks, and the reflection of the lights shimmer in the canal. We watch the changing scenery protected from the rain under one of many giant umbrellas lining the canal.

lanterns along the grand canal at night


*For more information on our tour check out: G Adventures China Express.

  1. Day 1: Fly into Beijing
  2. Day 2: Beijing: Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square
  3. Day 3: Great Wall Mutianyu and travel to Xi’an
  4. Day 4: Xian: Terracotta Warriors Guided Tour and travel to Suzhou
  5. Day 5: Suzhou: Master of the Nets Garden Tour and overnight train to Shanghai
  6. Day 6: Shanghai: Orientation Walk of the Bund
  7. Day 7: Shanghai: Carte Blanche
  8. Day 8: Fly out of Shanghai

September 2017

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Author: The Traveling Gingerbread

My husband, Mitch, and I have been traveling together over 6 years. Living and working full-time in Pittsburgh, PA, we travel as much as our vacation days and finances allow. We cram each adventure with activities, tours,  and experiences to maximize our time. We always try to visit to a local brewery and can't walk by an Irish pub without stopping in for a pint of Guinness. CREATION OF THE TRAVELING GINGERBREAD: In Tokyo, we smiled every time we saw someone talking on their large, animated phone case. We had to buy one. Having an obsolete IPhone 5, the selection was limited. We purchased a gingerbread off a neglected rack in Shinjuku, Tokyo and The Traveling Gingerbread was born. You can purchase your own gingerbread friend here! The Traveling Gingerbread is an entertaining account of our travels, fun facts, and tips we learned along the way.

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