Suzhou Explorations: Dushu Lake Higher Education Town

Suzhou Explorations: Dushu Lake Higher Education Town
By Esta Chappell , eChinacities.com

Forget the usual situation of a city having one main university and possibly a couple of colleges or other higher education institutions. Suzhou has 23 colleges and universities, the bulk of which are located in Dushu Lake Higher Education Town (独墅湖高等教育区) (HET)—a 10 sq. km area established in 2002 that’s located within the greater Suzhou Dushu Lake Science and Education Innovation District. Within the heart of HET are ever-expanding campuses such as Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), Nanjing University, Southeast University (aka Monash University), and Soochow University, while along the southern edge of HET are the high-tech bio and nanotechnology companies. These large grey nondescript buildings, branded only with a number and letter and guarded at every possible entrance, house companies with names like BrightGene, and GingkoPharma.

 
Xi'an Jiatong-Liverpool University campus. Photo: E. Chappell

The entire area has been developed with the future in mind; the roads are as expansive as the university grounds and there is the possibility that in the future Suzhou’s metro may pass through the center of the town. For now, thousands of students make their way from their cramped dormitories, plastic bag of sweating fried bread in hand, to the borderless, architecturally designed, box-like universities (or lotus shaped as in Soochow University). Situated approximately 15 km from the city center, Dushu Lake HET may feel a little out of the way. But the good news is everything you need is right here with the benefit of not having to deal with the hustle and bustle of the city.

Shopping & Dining

1) Wenxing Plaza
If you are staying at the MBA Apartments, you are conveniently located right beside Wenxing Plaza—a large central paved area on Ren’ai Lu that’s surrounded by shops and eateries on one side and a multi-story building on the other. Basic supplies (excluding meat and vegetables) can be bought from small supermarkets including the one in the basement of Wenxing Plaza. If you fancy more Western style food then there is always Café 85° (a bakery) or KFC (as a last resort?). For a more authentic Chinese student dining experience, head inside the Plaza to the buffet style canteen. Here a meal can cost as little as 10 RMB, although don’t expect high quality—students are, after all, more interested in quantity.

2) Hanlin Neighborhood Center
Carry on down Ren’ai Lu towards the Scholars Garden Apartments on Linquan Jie if you are looking for a more diverse shopping experience. Here you can find a range of well-priced, non-branded clothing shops. If you are an early riser it might pay to visit Hanlin after lunch, as most of these shops opt to open at midday and stay open until late. Like Wenxing Plaza, there are Western dining options such as McDonalds as well as a local bakery that sells hot baguettes. Alternatively, head upstairs and try one of the Chinese or Korean restaurants (English menus provided). There is a small supermarket and just down the corridor there is an indoor wet market selling everything from live fish and poultry, to meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables, grain and spices. If you are feeling under the weather there is a pharmacy here as well, but you might need to brush up on your Mandarin to get the right medication. For international supplies head to Victor’s, a small shop selling a range of international food and beverage brands. Other conveniences at Hanlin include an optometrist, laundromat, Kodak photo store, mobile phone companies, baking store, leather goods shop, hairdressers, yoga, Italian café, a drinking water supply shop and, of course, a karaoke bar.

3) Wenhui Plaza
Those staying at the R & D Residential Apartments on Linquan Jie will have Wenhui Plaza next door. Similar to Wenxing, Wenhui Plaza features a broad range of shops, as well as two small supermarkets and a student type canteen where fried rice costs a mere 8 RMB. Several fruit shops, a couple of hairdressers, bakery, juice shop and a pizza place pretty much wrap up the rest of WenHui Plaza.

4) Moon Bay
This new development has that familiar emptiness common to many new sites around Suzhou, but within a few years it could be a thriving little area. It is located very close to the southern end of Dushu Lake on Qiyue Jie and although construction is not yet completely finished, there is already a coffee shop, Papa John’s Pizza, Thinkers Bar (serving international beer on tap), and a range of other restaurants.

Recreation

For film buffs there is the Suzhou Dushu Lake Theatre with two cinemas, 3D films and reasonable prices (40 RMB). Check that films are being shown in English first. Want to get active? Visit the Dushu Lake Sports Center with a swimming pool, tennis courts, rock climbing and much more. However if you prefer enjoying the green spaces of the city then head to Egret Park on the south-eastern shores of Lake Dushu. A leisurely stroll can take you from Moon Bay north along the lake edge to the library (~2km).

Suzhou Dushu Lake Theatre View In Map
Add: 555 Xinghu Jie, Suzhou
地址:苏州市工业园区星湖街555号(高教区体育馆南侧)
Tel: 512 6292 3000
Getting there: take bus No. 146, 156, 166, 176 or 218 to Dushi Lake Sports Center stop

Dushu Lake Sports CentreView In Map
Add: 1 Cuiwei Jie, Industrial Park, Suzhou
地址:苏州市工业园区翠薇街1号
Tel: 512 62602 320
Getting there: take bus No. 146, 156, 166, 176 or 218 to Dushi Lake Sports Center stop

Bus Routes

  • Around the Higher Education town (loops around Ren’ai Lu, library, sports centre, and student accommodation) - free 888 bus
  • Suzhou Train Station – No. 178 or2
  • SIP Train Station – No. 115
  • Suzhou North Bus Station – No. 812
  • Suzhou South Bus Station – No. 16
  • Central Suzhou city –No. 178, 142 or 146
  • Times Square and InCity Mall – No. 812 or 120

Auchan –No. 142 or 146

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Keywords: Suzhou Dushu Lake Higher Education Town guide Suzhou Dushu Lake guide Suzhou HET guide

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