Once upon a time, Suzhou had 200 private gardens. Many are still intact today in the beautiful old town that anchors this burgeoning modern industrial city of 10 million. Over a thousand years ago the Chinese reached the profound conclusion that a residential garden should be experienced as a three-dimensional picture through the studied placement of rocks, water features and flowers, accented with ornate pavilions. The aim was to achieve a Daoist balance and harmony between man and nature.

In Suzhou you can visit the historic homes of the aristocrats, scholars, and merchants who carefully crafted these beautiful gardens. High-walled, tree-lined, cobblestone streets, running by ancient canals, maintain a neutral demeanor. They do not betray the utopian paradise within. The so-called “Humble Administrator’s Garden” and the “Master of the Nets Garden” have both been recognized by UNESCO as symbols of China’s magnificent architectural heritage.


A selection a some of the many incredible experiences that await you

Imperial Tours was a grand slam home run with my wife and I. From the moment we set foot in Beijing to “wheels up” leaving Shanghai, we felt secure, comfortable, pampered and thoroughly getting our money’s worth for our tour.

Mr. & Mrs. W., USA

Custom Itineraries

Explore suzhou through the eyes of a local

Two hours west of Shanghai by car, Suzhou is a prestigious historic, cultural and commercial center on China’s prosperous Eastern seaboard. Its opulence and industry dazzled Marco Polo hundreds of years ago. Its culture and elegance  continue to do so today.

We customize each of our itineraries based on your interests and traveling style. The itinerary below forms a base to start the conversation.

En route to Suzhou, we will stop at a charming canal town to enjoy its unique water-focussed architecture. We continue to Suzhou to visit some of the most beautiful gardens in the world.

Your Personal Traveling Concierge

Our China Hosts

Our China Hosts are part of what makes us unique; they help explain our success for over twenty years. Our China Hosts have been hand selected and expertly trained to provide you with the most unforgettable journey. From seamlessly ensuring flawless logistics, to deepening your cultural immersion, to effecting last minute adjustments, in the words of a guest, they take a trip "from excellence to perfection". Before you travel with us, it's hard to imagine what a China Host brings to the party. After, it's hard to imagine traveling without one.

suggested guide: lily

Your Shanghai guide, Lily, will accompany you to Suzhou. Lily's mother was born in Suzhou and she spent much of her childhood growing up there, so she is very familiar with its main cultural sites. When in need, she can take people off the more touristed routes to explore less familiar gardens such as the one of Cultivation or for Couple's Retreat, or alternatively to provide an on-the-spot tour of the city's architecture, a personal interest of hers.

Fine Dining & Authentic Cuisine

Experience the finest in Chinese and Western cuisine

Although Suzhou is not as famous as neighboring Shanghai, five hundred years ago no one would even have heard of Shanghai, whilst Suzhou was one of the most opulent cities in the world. As a result, Suzhou is home of one of China's most varied kitchens. From the traditional Ba Bao Fan, Eight-Treasures Rice Pudding used in New Year Celebrations to crowd- favorite - Special Fried Rice - and the deep-fried Mandarin Fish, you will enjoy Suzhou's subtle and sometimes sweet flavors .


  • Formerly written as Soochow (under the Wade-Giles transliteration system)
  • Population: 10.66 million (2015)

Brief History

  • 514 BC – King Helü of Wu establishes his new capital city, the cradle of regional (Wu) culture
  • 496 BC – King Helü is buried at Tiger Hill
  • 473 BC – The Wu ethnic group is defeated by the Yue people
  • 221 – 206 BC – During the Qin Dynasty, the city is known as Wuxian and is the capital of the Kuaiji Commandery
  • 618 – 907 – In Tang period, the poet Bai Juyi constructs the Shantang Canal connecting the city with Tiger Hill for tourists
  • 1035 – The Confucius temple is founded by the poet Fan Zhongyan
  • 1130 – The city is invaded by the northern Jin army
  • 1275 – The city is invaded by the Mongols
  • 1356 – The city is declared capital by the self proclaimed King of Wu
  • 1367 – The royal city is ransacked by Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty
  • 1860 – The city is captured by Taiping soldiers
  • 1863 – The city is taken from the Taiping army by the British under Major-General Charles Gordon
  • 1937 – Under the Japanese invasion many gardens are destroyed
  • 1950 – Action is taken to restore many gardens in the city
  • 1982 – Suzhou is named as one of four cities of historical and cultural heritage protection


  • Located on the Lake Tai Plain south of the Yangtze River, 100km (60 mi) west of Shanghai and 200km (120 mi) east of Nanjing.
  • Main River: Huangpu River
  • Total area coverage: 8,488.42 km2 (3,277.40 m2)
  • City Flower: Osmanthus