Tiger Hill (Hu Qiu)
Garden fans will love the outstanding bonsai collection, which includes around 500 trees, some up to 300 years old, but most Suzhou tours visit Tiger Hill for the 7-tier pagoda. One-day or half-day tours, which generally come from Shanghai by bullet train but rely on ground transfers within Suzhou, typically include at least one of Suzhou’s UNESCO World Heritage–listed classical gardens. Some add one of the region’s famous water towns, such as Tongli or Zhouzhuang, or even Hangzhou, famed for West Lake.
Things to know before you go
- Tiger Hill spans about 3.5 acres (1.5 hectares), while the classical gardens also involve a degree of walking. Wear practical shoes.
- The Tiger Hill area is not stroller-friendly and nor are Suzhou’s classical gardens. Slings or back carriers are the way forward here.
- Steps and undulating terrain make Tiger Hill a poor choice for travelers who rely on wheelchairs.
How to get there
Tiger Hill sits in northwest Suzhou, about a 2-mile (3-kilometer) drive west of Suzhou Station, on the Y1 tourist bus route. The bullet train from Shanghai takes barely half an hour, but be sure to book tickets for Suzhou Station, not Suzhou North Station.
When to get there
Tiger Hill is open from early morning until late afternoon throughout the year, with slightly shorter hours in the winter season (roughly, October through April). Plan to visit at the very start or very end of the day to beat the crowds.
Cloud Rock Leaning Pagoda
While it only stands around 100 feet (30 meters) tall, Tiger Hill is an icon of Suzhou, and a trip to the Cloud Rock Leaning Pagoda (Yunyan Si) is an essential stop. The Tiger Hill pagoda broke new ground when it was built in the 10th century as one of China’s first brick temples. But over the years its summit has slipped more than 6 feet 6 inches (2 meters) from its original position.
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