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Shantang Street in Suzhou – Your Window to Wu Culture

Shantang Street in Suzhou is your go-to for something that resembles ancient China. The courtyard houses there will definitely give you a glimpse of what life was like eons ago. The street is your “Window to Wu Culture,” they (tour guides) say. 

Shantang Jie Suzhou Jiangsu China
Suzhou’s Shantang Street is your Window to Wu Culture (China).

If you are into Chinese architecture, you might find this place interesting, and perhaps, a paradise for your passion. 

Shantang Street in Suzhou - Your Window to Wu Culture
Shantang Street in Suzhou – Your Window to Wu Culture (China).

The locals call Shantang Jie as the Seven-Mile street. It has a history traceable back in 852 A.D. 

Shantang Jie Suzhou CHina Jiangsu
Suzhou’s Shantang Street is your Window to Wu Culture (China).

Shantang Jie is one of China’s protected “National Historical and Cultural Street.” 

Shantang Jie in Suzhou Jiangsu China
Shantang Street in Suzhou – Your Window to Wu Culture (China).
During the Qing and Ming Dynasty, it was the center of trade, finance, and commerce. 
China history suzhou old street
Do not skip this attraction when visiting Suzhou.

Yes, it’s a touristy area, but as a sojourner here, the ancient houses surprised me.

Shantang Lu in Suzhou China Jiangsu
The streets are narrow and red lanterns are everywhere.

Look at its windows, eaves, doors, and roofs. 

Suzhou Things to do China
Chinese architecture is very evident in this area.

They can obviously tell you that they’ve aged over the years. 

Chinese architecture China
Go there in the morning to beat the crowd.

But they aged gracefully, beautifully…

Old houses canal Suzhou things to do
Suzhou is called the “Venice of the East.”

Treading the narrow cobblestoned streets was akin to time traveling in the past.

hostel hotel Suzhou China
See ancient China in this seven-mile street.

The red lanterns hanging outside the shop windows gave me that feeling of being transported into a different time. 

Red lanterns Chinese architecture
Red lanterns are everywhere in this ancient street.
Oh, you have to pass the stone bridges, too! 
stone bridge suzhou things to do
This stone bridge dates back to Ming dynasty.

They are your viewing platform of life in and along the canals.

suzhou canal Venice of the east
Suzhou is called the “Venice of the East.”

Guidebooks dub Suzhou as the “Venice of the East,” because of its canals. 

hostel suzhou hotel things to do
The 7-mile street has many stone bridges.

Though there are boats that go up and down the canal, they mainly transport tourists for a ride

As I was there during the October Holiday, humans were everywhere. It was an elbow-to-elbow experience. And at times, bum-to-bum. 😀

Hostel hotel in suzhou China
The main entrance of Shantang Jie.

Going into shops, washrooms, restaurants, bakeries, and museums was a struggle. But most of all, shops selling food cram the ancient streets.

Things to do in Suzhou China
Can you snake your way through this crowd?

It was even a challenge to take a selfie from my phone without someone in the background. 😀 

China Suzhou hotel hostel
Traveling on Chinese holiday is, of course, not a good idea.

I was told that at night – when all the red lanterns illuminate – the place reveals its true beauty.

Red lanterns soochow things to do
Red lanterns are hanging everywhere.

I did go there at 8:30 in the evening, but I only lasted for 4 minutes and I went back to my hostel. The crowd was too much, and I worried about my safety. Not to mention those inconsiderate chain smokers I couldn’t stand. 

Suzhou is called the "Venice of the East."
Suzhou is called the “Venice of the East.”

However, I woke up early and went back to Shantang Jie the next day – to beat the crowd. Unfortunately, it rained but nothing could stop me. And that’s in the next blog post. 

old and new architecture in suzhou
Does the modern architecture blend well with the old?

Hostel / Hotel in Suzhou

Looking for an affordable hostel in an ancient street? The Mingtown Suzhou International Youth Hostel at Pingjiang Lu is a nice place to stay. Nearby (15 minutes walk), Suzhou Blue Gate Youth Hostel is another option. Well-rated PACE Hotel Suzhou Renmin is worth your money if you can afford to splurge more. You can book all these accommodations via HostelWorldBookingTripAdvisor, and Expedia

VPN in China

Remember that while most hotels in China have free access to wifi, I recommend that you install your own VPN to access your social media accounts.

Buying Train Tickets Online in China

Buying train tickets at the train station anywhere in China can be confusing for those who don’t speak the language. What I always do is book via TRIP because it’s the most convenient, and they don’t really charge that much for service fee. The money you’d spend in going to the train station might be the same for the service fee. And you wasted no time joining the long queue there. However, on the day of your trip, make sure to be at the station at least an hour and a half. Go directly to the window booth where they issue the real tickets. You have to show the reservation number/s. Train attendants usually allow passengers to check in between 20-30 minutes before the scheduled departure.

 

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