We got lost trying to find the bus station to catch the bus from Suzhou to Tongli. It is not the Long Distance bus station but nearby to it in a large building. One can follow the long distance bus signs out of the railway station and there is a big building nearby- go in! Unlike many other buses in China, one has to buy the ticket at the ticket counter- with designated time and seats allocated, as well as waiting queues. If one buys the Tongli entrance ticket at the same time you save the cost of the bus trip.Tickets cost RMB100 pp. The trip takes about 45min and ends at the Tongli bus depot- which is nice to know so that you don't have to stress about every stop! There is a tourist info centre at the bus stop in Tongli where you can collect a very helpful map - unfortunately it was closed when we arrived so we battled to find the old town and our hostel.
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.
There's a bus service from Suzhou Train Station to Tongli. The busfare is RMB 8 and it takes about 45 minutes.
The bus stop is NOT right outside the train station. You have to walk south from the train station to the south, where the bus depot is. There's a small ticker window which will sell you the tickets. I got a bus/entry ticket to Tongli for RMB 80. (Which means they didn't charge for the bus ride.)
Take the bus to the last stop, which should be the bus station in Tongli. This is also where you can pick up the bus going back to Suzhou.
One quick & simple way to access Tongli is by trishaw. As the walking time takes approx. 20 minutes, you may pay RMB10 per pax for a trishaw ride. It will take you from the main entrance to the bridge for gondola ride.
The journey is a breeze as they peddle very fast, especially when the trishaw glides down the slope of bridge. The ride is rather bumpy due to stone-surfaced road.
When returning, stroll back to the main entrance where you can shop through some of the shops. Single journey of trishaw ride is recommended or else you won't have the chance to look at Tongli main street.