Taxis are abundant and cheap and are a fast and easy way to get around the city. There are also rickshaws for hire as well. But these are good only for shorter distances. For the latter, its a good idea to bargain. Also, some are connected to one of the several local tour operators who will also try to sell you their tours.
Suzhou Railway Station
Suzhou has a new railway station. During my visit in 2010, the new building was started in operation with new ticketing machines, chairs, counters, and etc. This giant building was built with wooded like roof top, which is unique in China.
You can take the speed rails to/from Shanghai (30 minutes) and Nanjing (1 and half hours). It becomes an important and busy transportation hub in China.
In Chinese: 苏州站 (Su Zhou Zhan)
Bus to Tongli
Getting to Tongli is relatively simple from Suzhou. Buses depart every 15 minutes or so from outside the train station (over on the left hand side as you look at the station). They cost about Y8 and take about 45 minutes. You can also purchase the Tongli entrance ticket on the bus for Y80 which saves you the cost of the bus fare.
On the way, you'll follow the Grand Canal and if you sit on the right hand side of the bus, you'll get the chance to see the 53 arches of the Tang dynasty Precious Belt Bridge which is located a few kilometres outside Suzhou.
The bus station in Tongli is on the main road. To get into the old part of Tongli simply follow the road back towards Suzhou for about 100 meters and then turn right and you'll see a big archway. This road then leads to the old town.
The train station is located in the north of the city. I took a train to Suzhou from the main railway station in Shanghai on the new Japanese bullet-train looking CRH trains which you should really try out as they are amazing. I then left Suzhou by train to go to Zhenjiang. Check out the website below for train times and destinations:
Standing Train From Shanghai to Suzhou
I got the cheapest tickets for the train trip to Suzhou from Shanghai. My ticket was a standing train. On the way it cost 13yuan on then on the way back 15yuan.
The standing train was an adventure. Crowded beyond belief with people carrying giant bags and all sorts of other things. Add to that the train staff trying to get through to sell noodles and other snacks. It's cheap, but not my preferred means of travel, particularly seeing as though on the return leg I was up against the toilet door and I had to keep one hand on the door handle to stop it from openning and me from falling in as the train rocked. Stick, cramped and uncomfortable, I laughed it off and was sure to pay extra for a seat on my next train trip.
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Train from Shanghai to Suzhou
It is very easy to get to Suzhou from Shanghai by train. Trains depart from Shanghai's main station hourly and the journey time varies between 35-50 minutes. Tickets cost RMB31 (that's GBP2 or USD4!) one-way for first class. Second class is even cheaper!
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Get to Suzhou by air
It may sound surprising but there is no Suzhou airport!
It's b/c Suzhou is only an hour ride from Shanghai and there are shuttle bus from both Shanghai airports to Suzhou. The bus departs from Pudong airport and will pick up more passages in Hongqiao airport before it heads to Suzhou. There are two stops in Suzhou, one stop is the Suzhou industry zone and the final stop is at Sanxiang Road in middle of Suzhou.
For more detailed information about bus time schedule:
This page seems only available in Chinese version. Currently, the bus departs from Pudong Airport at: 10:40, 11:20,11:50,12:50,13:50,14:40,15:20,16:10,16:50,17:50,18:50,19:40
The price is 82RMB.
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Driving rather than bicycling
Used to be a lot of fun riding a bicycle around Suzhou. Crossing the bridges and stopping for a photo or two. But in my recent trip, the traffic is getting too heavy and would recommend being driven around in a hired car. Suzhou is still small enough to do part by foot by then there will be the annoyance of "tour guides for hire" if you are easily seen as tourist from a kilometer.
Day trip from Shanghai possible
Suzhou is close enough to Shanghai for a day trip from there.
There is no airport.
There is an excellent train service between Suzhou and Shanghai. The Shanghai Train Station can be reached easily by Shanghai metro train.
Another alternative is by road. However the highway and trunk road between Suzhou and Shanghai has been under reconstruction and was causing traffic delays. I have not been there this year but hopefully it has been mainly completed by now. Check the status - train is always an alternative.
Transport from Shanghai
Transport from Shanghai is convenient.
Go to the railway station and you can find a lot of trains going to stop at Suzhou. It usually takes an hour on a train to get to Suzhou. 10 yuan-30 yuan will be the fee.
You can also take highway bus shuttles and it should be a little faster. 30 yuan-50 yuan.
Bus from Shanghai Pu Dong
One of the easiest ways to get to Suzhou is by bus from Shanghai PuDong Airport. The following link details the routes and times.
Alternatively you can take the bus to the Shanghai Rail Station, and then take the express train to Suzhou
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The wheels on the bus...
As in every city in China getting around by bus is an easy and one of the most favoured tansportations. And when i saw these cute bus stops, i just HAD to take a photo! Of course in Suzhou, you can also drive, ride bicycles of hop on a boat which will take you down the many canals....!
Canal Boat Suzhou-Hangzhou
Canal Boat to Suzhou is an interesting experience. I’ve once taken the boat in opposite direction, Suzhou-Hangzhou. However, I don’t think the boats are suitable for travellers. The boats are chained in line, one after another, up to 4. The first one tugs the others. If take the leading boat, you must buy its 1st class ticket otherwise the cabins are besides the engine room so that you won’t have a good rest. All the rooms are pretty small with no furnishments. 2nd class rooms are unacceptably small. The night view of the Canal is all in darkness. You must cherish the dawn and dusk. Well, I think the boats to Wuxi is a better choice. although it takes 1hr more time, the boats sails in Lake Taihu, the 3rd largest lake, for that period. So you can enjoy both canal and lake views. I won’t revise your route, but suggest you take the Hangzhou-Wuxi boat. If you won’t spend time on Wuxi, just take a train to Suzhou. Lots of trains run between the 2 cities and it takes only a half hour’s time. Remember to book the boat tickets in advance or you’ll have fewer choices.
Places to buy boat ticket/Wharf:
Hangzhou, 138 HuanchengBeiLu, (Wulinmen)
Suzhou, Renmin Qiao(People's Bridge)
Both are in downtown areas.
Bicycle is cheap and give you more freedom in going where you need to go around Suzhou. Rental is about RMB10 for a day along Shiquen Jie, there are a few shop renting it. Before taking it, make sure the brakes and locks are working properly. You won't want the bicycle to be stolen. They sometime ask your passport or RMB500 or something as a deposit.
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Getting to Suzhou
It's quite easy to get to Suzhou from Shanghai by either bus or train. We took the bus there and train back, and the train does the 90km journey in less than 40 minutes to Shanghai station.
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