The city of Suzhou is 110 km west of Shanghai and more than 1,100 km from Beijing. It boasts of being able to keep important pieces of imperial history through the many classical gardens that are found in the area. The Humble Administrator’s Garden located in Suzhou stands apart from the rest not only because of its size but also because of its beauty. Even among treasured buildings of Old China, the garden holds a special place. Today, we have been given the unique opportunity to see the world as it was before by visiting this attraction.
Sunan Shuofang International Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport are the closest airports that service Suzhou. You can also get to Suzhou by train. If you are from Shanghai and want to arrive at the city faster, take the bullet trains from Hongqiao Railway Station or from Shanghai Railway Station. There are more bullet train schedules in Hongqiao though. Fares range from 35RMB to 120 RMB (6-18 USD) for G-type trains while 25.5 RMB to 30.5 ($4-6) for D-type trains. The price varies according to the seats that you will choose. Typical travel time is from 25 to 35 minutes. Meanwhile, regular trains will take you one to two hours but will cost you 15 RMB only ($4). Inter-city buses are also available from several Shanghai terminals like the Intercity Bus Terminal, South Long-distance Bus Station, Pudong East Long-distance Bus Station, and Hongqiao West Long-distance Bus Station.
To get to the garden, you can take bus numbers 40 and 313 and stop at Beiyanlu Station. It will be a 2-minute walk from there. Other bus numbers that have stops close are 178, 202, 262, 309, 518, 923, and 2. These stop by the Suzhou Museum which is 500-meters to the garden. From April to October, admission fees are at 90 RMB ($15) but these drop to 70 RMB ($11) in off-peak seasons. The garden opens every 7:30 in the morning and close at 5:30 in the afternoon. From November 16 to February though, they close 30 minutes earlier so make sure to check ahead.
The Guitianyuanju or the east part of the garden is designated for the pavilions and has the Pinggangyuan Hill. The Lotus Pavilion is especially beautiful in the summer where lotuses are in full bloom. With half of the pavilion built on water, you can really admire the bloom up close. The eastern part also has the Tianquan Ting which has a well inside. The Central part of the Humble Administrator’s Garden is its highlight. Its pathways are lined with trees and its viewing decks and parlors are fit for royal tastes. Summer brings in the lotus fragrance from the Yuanxiang Tang or the Hall of Distant Fragrance. The furniture and the architecture of the halls and parlors are from the Ming Dynasty so that in itself is a treat for history buffs. The Western section of the garden is where the Camelias Hall and the Mandarin Duck’s Hall are located. Occasionally, you may see ducks being fed in the ponds of the Western section. Many visitors are usually in awe with the ornate detail found in the pavilions with its dragon shapes and claws, the green ponds, and the lotus blooms. Every now and then, there are flower exhibits held in the garden.
Because of the beauty of the garden, many tourists flock to the area. Don’t let this discourage you. There is enough space for everybody and even with all the activity, you can pick a quiet spot anywhere in the garden and just take in the view.