For our babymoon, Ke and I went to Suzhou! At first we thought about going to Hawaii but thanks to Scott’s Cheap Flights, we found an incredible deal to China that was even cheaper than Hawaii – only $350 roundtrip on a direct flight to Beijing. I was already feeling bummed out that our trip to France was going to be our last international trip of the year so I was pretty excited about our change of plans.
We only spent 8 days in China since the trip was a bit last minute but it was so worth it with such a cheap flight. We stayed in Beijing the first 6 days to see family then made our way to Suzhou to celebrate our babymoon! Here are my old posts on things to do in Beijing – A Week in Beijing and Celebrating Chinese New Year in Beijing.
Getting There from Beijing
Ke and I love to optimize our time when traveling so we decided to take an overnight train from Beijing to Suzhou. I was in the comfortable stage of pregnancy and wasn’t worried about sleeping on a train. We left Beijing South Station at around 9pm and arrived in Suzhou at 8:30am.
The specific overnight train we took was a brand new one and it was beyond my expectation! I’ve taken an overnight train in China before and really enjoyed it but this train was next level. Everything was incredibly clean, even the bathroom after the 12 hour trip haha. There are multiple high speed trains and overnight trains that leave Beijing. The specific train we took was D311 but sadly can’t be booked anymore. To book an overnighter from Beijing to Suzhou, use trip.com* and look for trains that depart at night and arrive in the morning, typically with a duration of >12 hours. The soft sleeper seats are the best seats to book.
Where to Stay
I’m obsessed with unique and boutique hotels so I really wanted to find someplace fun in Suzhou. After doing tons of research, we settled on Pan Pacific Suzhou*. This hotel is amazing. It’s an old palace that was renovated into a hotel and is still connected to the old gardens, Pan Men Scenic Area. It’s massive and also surrounded by smaller gardens within the hotel grounds.
At first I was looking at hotels near downtown but am happy we stayed in more of a residential area. It was a little far from the other attractions but near a subway station, plus taxis are very cheap. I recommend downloading the English version of Didi – the Chinese version of Uber to get around.
I also found a great deal on Agoda* for a suite, one of my favorite booking sites when traveling to Asia. Since we arrived so early, we planned on dropping off our bags at the hotel then grabbing food until we could check in, but they had a room available for us at 9am! It’s such a huge hotel so I wasn’t surprised we were able to check in early. We dropped off our things, showered, and then went to grab food down the street.
What to Do
Pan Men Scenic Area
Like I mentioned before, Pan Pacific Suzhou is connected to these gardens so we stopped by here a couple of times. If you’re a hotel guest you get free admission too. I think it’s worthwhile making a stop here even if you don’t stay at the hotel. This garden is very large, gorgeous, and not as crowded as the other gardens in Suzhou. I had a ton of fun taking maternity photos here :D.
Tiger Hill is pretty far out from other scenic spots in Suzhou so we took a taxi here first thing after checking in and eating on day 1. When we first got towards the hill, we saw a horse carriage and thought woo lets take a horse ride up to the top. I had no energy to walk up there myself. But the horse carriage just takes you to the other side of the hill lol not up it. Once we got to the other said we paid again to take a buggy up the hill. We spent some time at the pagoda then explored almost all of the grounds. There are so many different secluded parts of Tiger Hill, even a small bamboo forest. It was a very fun spot for some history and photos.
I’m a sucker for historical temples so Ke planned a stop to Hanshan Temple. This temple and monastery is famed for the poem A Night Mooring by Maple Bridge. We explored the extensive grounds and gardens, with Ke translating some of the plaques to me. Worth a stop if you’re into temples.
Humble Administrator’s Garden
On Day 2, we aimed to tackle the famous gardens of Suzhou! These next few stops are all within walking distance of one another. We started the day at Humble Administrator’s Garden which is probably one of the most famous gardens in Suzhou. We tried to get here as early as possible and it was still swarming with people! Despite the crowds, it was still a grand sight to see. We even found small pockets of quietness to enjoy throughout the garden.
Afterwards, we visited the Suzhou Garden Museum which is right next to the Suzhou Museum. There we learned more about the gardens of Suzhou and even got to see a huge replica of Humble Administrator’s Garden.
Lion Grove Garden
After visiting Humble Administrator’s Garden we walked over to the Lion Grove Garden. Once again, the crowds can be insane haha. I highly recommend trying to visit these gardens in the morning if possible – you also can avoid the heat. Regardless, this garden is gorgeous and filled with crowds for a reason. Definitely check it out.
After visiting the gardens, we made our way to the Suzhou Museum. I loved this museum! It’s not too large either, we spent a couple of hours here. We also grabbed drinks and food in the beautiful cafe – one of my favorite things about China is you can order food straight from your phone in a lot of public places like trains and museums. It also has its own modern take of a classic Chinese garden in the courtyard.
After the gardens and museums in the morning, we made our way to Pingjiang Road for lunch and more sightseeing – we took Didi to most places just because it was so affordable and convenient. The subway is easy to take as well. This is a popular destination for tourists and locals. There are dozens of cafes and restaurants as well as small shops for snacks and souvenirs. We ate lunch and walked around quite a bit, stopping at a tea house to enjoy the canals when it started to rain a little.
For dinner and a view of the sunset, we headed downtown to Jinjihu Park on Jinji Lake. This place was absolutely gorgeous though I am happy we didn’t stay downtown. On the other-side of the lake, there is enormous music fountain show on Fridays at 8:30 PM. It’s only during certain months so go here for more info. We got there about 15 minutes before the show started…it was packed!! I highly recommend taking the subway to and from here, and leaving a little bit early to beat the crowds.
Our last touristy stop was the famous Shantang Street. This street is filled with souvenir shops, bars, small street vendors, and of course lights. Shantang street has a lot of shops filled with the typical souvenirs but there are a few boutique art shops and silk shops.
I love taking home pieces of art from the different cities Ke and I get to visit. I was able to find the most beautiful framed silk embroidery of the Suzhou canals (pictured below). I loved this particular piece because I had never seen anything like it before (and still haven’t). It’s currently in Noey’s nursery and is such a sweet reminder of our amazing babymoon 🙂
*This post contains an affiliate link to a hotel I stayed at and to a service I use, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using the links.