Tongli Travel Guide

  • Tongli
    by tenluk
  • Full regalia
    Full regalia
    by oerkenbo
  • A very local moment
    A very local moment
    by oerkenbo

Tongli Things to Do

  • Cormorant Performance

    At one corner of the water canal, you can see some parked gondolas. There you can see birds tied to the boat. They are cormorants. For a small fee, you can see these birds in action, swooping down to the water preying for fish.

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  • Jaiyin Hall

    Jiayin House was built in 1922 and the owner of the mansion was Liu Bingnan, who was the relative of Liu Yazi (1887–1958), a famous Chinese poet. Liu Yazi had once lived in the house. The front door of Jiayin House is in Shanghai's Shikumen style, which is that the doorframe is built of stone bricks and the door is solid wood.

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  • Gengle Hall

    Ming Dynasty official Zhuxiang, also called Gengle, built this placid retreat after a successful career in government. So pleasant was his home that he seldom left it, earning a reputation as a hermit, albeit a hermit with a 54-room mansion to hole up in. Today, the house retains three courtyards and 41 rooms out of the original layout. The front...

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  • Pearl Tower

    A legend goes like this: Fang, a young man from a rich and powerful family became poor due to being out of favour with the royal court. He had to borrow money from his aunt in Henan Province, central China, but she scornfully taunted him. Fang's elder female cousin, Chen, had a kind heart and gave him the Pearl Tower, which had been the family...

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  • Bridges

    Forty-nine stone bridges in a variety of styles join the seven islands created by fifteen canals and five lakes upon which Tongli stands. Each bridge has a name and these examples will give you an idea of the poetic nature of the inhabitants. Perhaps the most notable are Peace and Tranquility (Taiping) Bridge, Luck (Jili) Bridge and Lasting...

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  • Sex Culture Museum

    An eye opening museum if ever there was one! Despite the title, this museum is quite tasteful and shouldn't embarrass you that much! It is the first and only museum of its type in China and exhibits over 1,600 items of sex culture from as long ago as 9,000 years to the early 20th century in four parts: Sex in Primitive Society, Marriage and Women,...

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  • Gu Feng Museum

    This museum is located in a building that overlooks the Gu Feng Garden. The exhibits on display include many different types of wooden and ornate beds, ceramics and some wonderful carved wooden architectural features. More photo's can be found in my travelogues.

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  • Gu Feng Garden

    This garden is located in the centre of the old town. It is a small garden courtyard that is surrounded by a museum and hotel and was only opened in 2004.

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  • Retreat and Reflection Garden

    The Retreat and Reflection (Tuisi) Garden, was designed by a famous painter, Yuan Long, during 1885 and 1887 and is the most spectacular in Tongli. Its name is derived from an aphorism expressed in a very famous biography called Zuo Zhuan written by Zuo Qiuming in the Eastern Zhou period (770-221 BC): 'Forward to be fully loyal, and retreat to...

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  • General views

    Tongli was one of the most beautiful towns I visited in China and I loved walking around the little streets and canals. Here are just a few scenes from the old town and there's plenty more in my travelogues.

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  • Emperor for a day

    Near the center of Tongli, you can get dressed up as Emperor or Empress of China, or a virginal bride and have your picture taken.Why wouldn't anyone want to do that?

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  • Tongli entracne tickets

    Upon buying the 80 RMB entrance ticket / person you can visit the gardens, scenic spots and Classical Halls for free. I did not find any completion of being entitled only for 4. Actually being a foreigner the locals won't stop you from entering any of such spots rather would welcome you with a gentle smile. The only thing they do is to check your...

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Tongli Restaurants

  • Al fresco dining by the canal

    There are a lot of al fresco restaurants by the canals. They will be soliciting your business with menus. For the most part the people are nice and honest. The food is not dissimilar -- mostly "farm-style" homecooking but quite delicious!

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  • Don't miss the pig's knuckles!

    One of the most famous delicacies in Tongli is the "Wanshanti" or braised pig's knuckles! They are braised in soy sauce, rice wine, and other seasonings such as anise, etc. It's fatty but you can just trim the fat with a fork or knife. Guaranteed "melt-in-your-mouth" tender. It should be anywhere between RMB 35-50. There're also a lot of...

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  • Smelly Tofu

    Smelly tofu / fermented deep-fried beancurd is rare in streets nor as dishes in chinese restaurants due to its pungent smell. However, you can find a few stalls here selling this daring snack along the water canal or at the main street of Tongli. They are dipped in sweet or chilli sauce to bring out the tofu's taste.Its pungent smell may be...

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  • Sipping a Cup of Tea Leisurely

    It's a great pleasure to dine beside water canal at Tongli. You can enjoy the nice view with small boats passing by while sipping a cup of tea. Reading a book while brewing a cup of tea is a great experience too. There are many restaurants and tea bars here for your choice. Allow yourself more time to dine leisurely here.

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  • Food of the Water Village

    The food here comes in very large portion and served in big metal bowl or plates. Some of the utensils are old and of poor quality. You have to use a thin plastic cup for chinese tea or beer.I find the food served here is a bit bland.Beware, the toilets here are with low partition cubicles.

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  • Best Dumpling In China

    There isn't much atmosphere other than the good food being served...!!!!! They serve different food in the morning and afternoon, in the morning, the have steam dumpling and in the afternoon its fried dumpling, all are freshly made. Very cheap and excellent taste. Miss it very very much and will definately make a trip there just to have this...

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Tongli Transportation

  • Bus from Suzhou to Tongli

    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...

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  • 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...

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  • Easy bus trip from Suzhou to Tongli

    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...

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Tongli Shopping

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  • Stewed Pig's Trotter

    When walking to the Tongli old town, you will pass by an old street with shops selling food stuff, local snacks & souvenirs. One popular food is the stewed pig's trotter. If you would like to bring home some, you can request the assistant to vacuum pack for you for freshness & convenience. Further down to the street, there is a larger...

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  • Chinese Craft

    This whole street sell souvenirs of all kind with some local food dishes. There is also a hotel located on this street. Silk, Wood Carving, Painting, Bronze and many more.

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  • Tongli Hotels

    0 Hotels in Tongli

Tongli Local Customs

  • Local cuisine

    Local cuisine in Tongli include Zhuangyuan pig's knuckle (upper leg), nut shortbread, sesame cake and little green dumplings. You can find these snacks in the very centre of the old town.

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  • Cormorant Fishing

    Fishermen use cormorants to catch fish and return them to the boat. The fisherman drive the birds into the water where they dive below the surface in search of fish. When the birds catch fish they return to the boat and the fisherman removes the fish from their throat and places them in the basket. The secret is that the fisherman places a cord...

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Tongli Warnings and Dangers

  • Public Toilets in Tongli

    Public toilets at the main entrance here may be a bit daunting for some. They are not that filthy but you will want to finish off your task and get out from it as soon as possible. The toilet cubicle has low partition. You won't see your "neighbour" if you squat down but you can stare at each other closely when you are tucking in your dress. There...

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  • Cafe menu in English

    We passed several cafe type places along one of the rivers, but the one which stuck out the most for me was the one which had a little blackboard reading "Come try our menu" in English, French and an attempt in Spanish.We carried on, but then decided to go back and see what they had! My mum was somewhat wary anyway because she'd seen people...

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  • I shouldn't drink this if I were you!

    Not so much of a danger, but more of a warning! First of all what the hell IS it, and secondly, why on EARTH would anyone want to put that inside themsleves?!I still have a lot I need to understand about the way this nation eats and drinks!

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Tongli Off The Beaten Path

  • Traditional life in a touristy town

    I'm quite amazed that Tongli has held onto its character in the face of the the daily onslaught of mass tourism. Yes, everything is very spruced up, and the main streets/canals are chock full of tourist facilities. But you don't have to stray far to see that a lot of the people who live here are still going about their lives as if nothing had...

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  • Not what you'd expect in a quiet town!

    The China Ancient Sex MuseumOnce located in the booming streets of Shanghai, it has been relocated due to a funding shortage and reopened in Tongli.So if you get fed up of walking around beautiful gardens, parks and canals, why not pop along to the museum for maybe a more pleasurable afternoon! It's all very funny that such a museum exixts full...

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Tongli Favorites

  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    by Willettsworld Written Jun 24, 2009

    Favorite thing: This is a map of Tongli and you can find another one in the leaflet you get when you purchase the entry ticket which costs Y80. The ticket entitles you to entry into all of the attractions within the city except for the Sex Museum which costs an additional Y20. You can buy the ticket on the bus from Suzhou which actually saves you the cost of the bus fare plus you can then read up on the town along the way.

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Explore Deeper into Tongli
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Three Famous Bridges
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Tuisi Garden
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