Tongli Water Town, a renowned ancient town south of the Yangtze River, boasts a history spanning over 1,000 years, earning it the nickname “Oriental Venice” for its picturesque waterways, stone bridges, traditional houses, and local customs. With 15 rivers dividing it into seven islands and 49 connecting bridges, visitors can explore the canals by boat, discover historical sites and museums, indulge in local delicacies, and marvel at the Retreat & Reflection Garden, a Chinese masterpiece of classical gardens and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
- Location: Tongli Town, Wujiang District, Suzhou, Jiangsu, China.
- Opening time: All day; Attractions in the town: 8:00-17:15.
- Ticket price: CNY 100, valid for 2 days; Night Ticket with Tuisi Garden: CNY 50.
- Time needed: 1-2 days.
- Best time to visit: All seasons.
- Suited to: photography lovers, lovers of Chinese architecture and culture of all ages.
What to See and Do in Tongli Water Town
Visit the Retreat & Reflection Garden
Experience the magnificence of the Retreat & Reflection Garden, an esteemed UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site showcasing classical garden brilliance, with its pavilions, ponds, rockeries, and corridors, embodying the owner’s profound philosophy of life.
Take a boat ride along the canals
Embark on a delightful canal boat ride, immersing yourself in the scenic charm of ancient houses, bridges, gardens, and shops that line the waterways.
Explore the ancient streets and lanes
Uncover the secrets of Tongli by exploring its historic streets, winding lanes, and notable sites like the Pearl Tower, Jiayin Hall, Luoxingzhou Island, Tongli Ancient Coin Museum, and Sex Culture Museum.
Cross the Three Bridges
Cross the Three Bridges, representing happiness, longevity, and prosperity, in adherence to the local tradition believed to bring good fortune during weddings and birthdays.
Enjoy some local snacks and specialties
Indulge in the delectable local delicacies and specialties, such as Wansan pork shank, braised eel paste, rice cake with sweet osmanthus sauce, and Tongli rice wine.
Best Time to Visit Tongli Water Town
Tongli Water Town experiences a subtropical monsoon climate with distinct seasons. The average annual temperature is 15.5°C (60°F). July is the hottest month, averaging 28°C (82°F), while January is the coldest with an average temperature of 3°C (37°F). The rainy season spans from June to September, with June and July receiving the highest rainfall.
The most favorable weather for a visit is typically during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November), when temperatures are mild and comfortable, and the scenery appears vibrant and lush.
Tongli Water Town celebrates various traditional festivals throughout the year, showcasing its rich culture and history. Some of the notable festivals include Lantern Festival, Qingming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival.
As a popular tourist destination, Tongli Water Town attracts numerous visitors from both domestic and international locations. Weekends, holidays, and peak seasons (such as spring and autumn) tend to be crowded. To savor a more tranquil and authentic experience, consider visiting Tongli Water Town on weekdays, early mornings, or late afternoons.
How to Get to Tongli Water Town
There are multiple transportation options available to reach Tongli Water Town, depending on your preferences and starting point:
By bus: Take bus No. 725 or 725B from Suzhou Railway Station or Suzhou South Bus Station and alight at Tongli Bus Station. The journey lasts approximately 40 minutes and costs 8 yuan.
By metro: Board Line 4 at Suzhou Railway Station or other stations and disembark at Tongli Metro Station. The metro ride takes around 50 minutes and costs 6 yuan. From there, you can take a tourist bus or a taxi to the town entrance, which takes approximately 10 minutes and costs 5 yuan.
By taxi: You can hail a taxi from any location in Suzhou to Tongli Water Town. The fare will vary based on distance and traffic conditions, but it is typically around 100 to 150 yuan from the city center.
Attractions nearby Tongli Water Town
- Tuisi Garden: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this classical garden from the late Qing Dynasty showcases elegant pavilions, bridges, ponds, and rockeries reflecting the philosophy of “retreat and reflection.”
- Jiayin Hall: A magnificent mansion built in 1911 with exquisite wood, brick, and stone carvings, located on Loujia Lane, Zhuxing Street.
- Chongben Hall: An impressive mansion famous for delicate carvings and paintings, situated by the river and facing Jiayin Hall across the river in the east, with Changqing Bridge connecting them in the west.
- The Three Bridges: Taiping Bridge (1913), Jili Bridge (1987), and Changqing Bridge (1470, rebuilt in 1704) are ancient stone bridges representing auspicious symbols and serving as venues for ceremonies and festivals like weddings and lantern festivals.
- The Pearl Tower: A five-story pagoda built in 1912 on a small island in the middle of a lake, adorned with pearls, jade, crystals, and a bronze bell, serving as a landmark and popular photography spot in Tongli Water Town.