The Venice of the East: An Escape to Tongli Water Village

The Venice of the East: An Escape to Tongli Water Village
By Margaux Schreurs ,

With a few months of warm weather left, a trip to Tongli Ancient Water Village may be exactly what we all need to extend our holidays just a little longer. The picturesque Tongli Village is located in Wujiang County, on the outskirts of Suzhou and is known for its canal system – it is nicknamed “the Venice of the East”. The ancient town is about 1000 years old, and is a typical water-town in the Yangtze River area. 

Entrance Fee: 100 RMB (includes ten local tourist attractions)
Enquiries Phone Number: 40 0828 2900

The Venice of the East: An Escape to Tongli Water Village
Photo: Ginny

Things to do

The main thing to do in Tongli is to just wander around, as the adorable canals and streets are its number one attraction. If you want to see the town from a different perspective, a gondola ride around the canals is highly recommended. Not only will you be able to explore the canals and bridges, but you’ll also be able to see the cormorant fishing performance for a small extra fee. However, Tongli has more to offer, and if you have all day, you should take some time to see the following sights.

1) The Retreat and Reflection Garden (退思园)
The Retreat and Reflection Garden is a private garden that was built by famous painter Yuanlong between 1885 and 1887, as commissioned by imperial official Ren Lansheng. It is very tranquil and easily one of the top sights in Tongli, and was officially recognized as one of Suzhou’s gardens by UNESCO in 2001.

The whole garden takes up 6,600 square meters, and is divided into an eastern residential area, a western main garden court, and some smaller courtyards. It is unique because it is the only garden to use the east west axis as the main axis, as opposed to the north south axis.

The Retreat and Reflection GardenView In Map
Address: 234 Xinzhenjie, Old Town District, Tongli, Suzhou
Opening Times: 08:00-17:00, daily
Telephone: 0512 63439000
How Much: included in 100 RMB Tongli ticket

2) Bridges
Another top attraction in Tongli are its stone bridges, 45 of them to be precise. Three of them are the most famous: Taiping, Jilin and Changqing. These three hold a special place in Tongli’s history and present, with people crossing them for good luck on special occasions, for example, weddings, when a new baby is born, or on special birthdays. Crossing these bridges not only brings good luck, but also health and fortune.

3) Gu Feng Garden & Museum (古风园)
Gu Feng Garden is another beautiful garden, and also incorporates the Gu Feng Museum. The museum gives a great view of the garden, and also has many interesting exhibits. For example, there are wooden and ornate beds, ceramics, and wood carvings. There are also some impressive Jade carvings that are worth the visit

Gu Feng Garden and MuseumView In Map
Address: 55 Dongxijie, Tongli Ancient Town, Wujiang District, Suzhou
Opening Times: 08:00-17:00, daily
How Much: included in 100 RMB Tongli ticket

Where to Eat

The best option for eating in Tongli is trying one of the little restaurants by the canals, as they have tastier food than the bigger restaurants in hotels, and their food tastes very home cooked.

As for what to eat, try Zhuangyuan pig’s knuckle, nut shortbread, sesame cake and green dumplings for Tongli specialties. These snacks are also available from street stalls throughout the village.


If you want to stay in Tongli overnight, there is a youth hostel in Tongli.

Tongli International HostelView In Map
Address: 10 Zhuxing Street, Tongli Ancient Town, Wujiang District, Suzhou
Phone Number: 189 1305 0199 or 0512 6333 9311

How to Get There From Suzhou

You can get a bus from Suzhou North Bus Station or from Suzhou Railway Station North Square Passenger Bus Station to Tongli Bus Station. The bus takes just under an hour to get there, and it costs 8 RMB.

Because it is so close to Suzhou, it is even possible to get a taxi, which will take about half an hour and cost around 100 RMB.

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Keywords: Tongli Water Village The Venice of the East


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Sep 11, 2021 04:32 Report Abuse


Maybe the places of the west is more famous than the places of China in all over the world. People call the places"The _of the East.People can know the characters of the Chinese places clearly.But there is another possibility.Chinese don't have self-confidence in their own brands. I believe China will have its own brand names in the future.

Sep 11, 2014 14:19 Report Abuse