How to Visit Tongli Town

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If you plan Suzhou tour, dont’ miss a side trip to Tongli.  Tongli Town (同里)is one of the famous ancient water towns in the Yangtze River Delta, which are specifically scattered around the large river and crisscross the triangle area of Suzhou, Shanghai and Hangzhou.

Under the administration of Wujiang District in Suzhou, Tongli Town is located in the southeast of Suzhou, 50 minutes drive from downtown Suzhou, one and half hour from Hangzhou and one and half hour from Shanghai.

The ancient Tongli Town has a history of over 1000 years, a typical water town in the Yangzte River area. The ancient town is scenic enough to be surrounded by waters. The town is cut into 7 islands by 15 canals which are linked by 45 bridges. It is reputed as “the Venice of the East”.

When you visit Suzhou, Shanghai or Hangzhou, you may have a side trip to Tongli Town. Of course, having an excursion from Suzhou to Tongli is the most convenient with only 50 minutes by bus or half hour by taxi.

At the time of research, a taxi ride from Suzhou to Tongli costs about RMB 100 while a long distance bus ride only costs RMB 8.

For a bus ride to Tongli from Suzhou, you may take a long-distance bus either from the Long-distance Bus Station on the northern square of Suzhou Railway Station or from Suzhou North Bus Station. Suzhou Railway Station and Suzhou North Bus Station is only one bus stop away.

For a long-distance bus from Shanghai to Tongli Town, you may take the bus either from Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center (Shanghai Stadium) leaving at 9:30am or Shanghai Long-distance Bus Station (Zhongxing Road) every leaving every half hour.

For the public transportation from Hangzhou to Tongli Town, you should go to Hangzhou North Bus Station for an hourly bus ride to Tongli.

A bunch of the ancient buildings in Ming and Qing dynasties are well-preserved and open to the public including Retreat and Refection Garden, Pearl Pagoda, Chongben Hall, Genhle Hall, Chen Qubing’s former residence, Wang Shaoao’s Memorial Museum and Songshiwu Garden.

The ancient watertown is mainly composed of canals, roads, bridges, residences and gardens where you will be lost in the beautiful view.

Entrance fee: RMB 10
Opening Hour:
07:30-17:30 (May-October)
07:30-17:15 (November-April)
Enquiry: 0512-800882990
Complaint: 0512-63321999
Emergency: 0512-63320995

Follow me to Tongli Town by taking the bus from North Square Passenger Bus Station at Suzhou Railway Station (苏州火车站北广场客运站站).

Suzhou Railway Station North Square Passenger Bus Station

Aboard the long-distance bus for Tongli Town

Aboard the long-distance bus for Tongli Town

Every bus has assigned seats. You’ve got a printed bus ticket with your seat number. We leave from Suzhou at 8:15am and arrive at Tongli Passenger Bus Station around 9:00m.

Tongli Passenger Bus Station

Our bus arrives at  Tongli Bus Station which is just next to the Tongli Tourist Information Center and ticketing Office where you buy your entrance ticket.

It is approx. half hour’s walk from the tourist information center to the main entrance to the Tongli ancient town. You can buy a 5-yuan electric car taking you to the entrance if you don’t want to walk.

Tongli Tourist Information Center and ticketing Office

The sample entrance ticket for Tongli Town. Each ticket allows visitors to have access to 10 major attractions within the Tongli Town.

If you want to learn more about the town’s history and anecdotes behind, you can hire a local English speaking tour guide rated RMB 120 per group.

 

English speaking tour guide rated RMB 120 per group.


About half an hour walk takes me to the street leading to the decorated archway entrance to the ancient town. The street is lined with shops selling local products and restaurants offering the local snacks and dishes.

the decorated archway entrance to the ancient town

An old bridge straddles a canal with a decorated archway. The local residents live a slow life, fishing, drinking, reading and the list could be much longer. 

An old bridge straddles a canal after the decorated archway.

The houses are confronted by the wide canals.

The houses are confronted by the wide canals.

A local hairdresser’s shop

A local hairdresser’s shop

At the northeast corner of the bridge, there is a Youth Hostel known as Tongli International Hostel. Tel:18913050199, 0512-63339311

Tongli International Hostel


He is making malt sugar in a unique way of extending the stick malt sugar much longer than most of the people expectation.

He is making malt sugar in a unique way

An old theatre stage

An old theatre stage

You won’t be lost since there are a slew of signboards en route reminding you of your next right direction.

a slew of signboards en route reminding you of your next right direction

Numerous pleasure boats are waiting for passengers to be on board for the canal cruise. 

Numerous pleasure boats are waiting for passengers to be on board for the canal cruise.

Passengers walking on shore while the pleasure boat is plying on the canal.

Passengers walking on shore while the pleasure boat is plying on the canal.

The faded white-washed wall with wooden windows

The faded white-washed wall with wooden windows

The canal cuts through the town with residences being connected to the water.

The canal cuts through the town with residences being connected to the water.

The arch stone bridge spans the canal

The arch stone bridge spans the canal

Enjoy a slow life in Tongli Town

Enjoy a slow life in Tongli Town

Bridges, trees, canals, boats and happy holidaymakers constitute a pretty picture of the old town.

Bridges, trees, canals, boats and happy holidaymakers

A cup of tea keeps life pressure away. The narrow old faded lane tells you the history

The narrow old faded lane tells you the history

Simple and pristine life

Simple and pristine life

Tip:  Hassle-free Suzhou Guided Tours
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If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for Suzhou Guided Tours:

 

Suzhou Highlight Day Tour from US$60  p/p
Suzhou One Day Side Trip  from US$80  p/p
Suzhou 4 Day Highlight Tour  from US$240  p/p

Shanghai Suzhou Zhouzhuang Day Tour  from US$70  p/p
Suzhou Car Rental

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14 Responses to “How to Visit Tongli Town”

  1. Joanna says:

    Hi,
    Very informative post. We will be traveling from Hangzhou to Tongli mid October. What is the best and most convenient way to get there? First time in China so we don’t want to change buses or anything like that. I booked a hotel with only a Chinese name in Wu Jiang District, is that convenient? I am interested in photography and will try to get to the pictoresque areas early to avoid the crowds. Thanks very much for any help.

  2. Daniel says:

    Hi Joanna,

    Asfar as I know, you take the bus from Hangzhou Passenger East Bus Station 杭州东站(武林门车站) to Tongli. But we are not sure where your hotel is. You may stay inside the town. Wu Jiang District is relatively big in size.

  3. ewe chong teh says:

    Hi, Daniel,

    If I like to visit Tongli 10 major attractions, could I make it within 2 hrs?
    Thank you.

    Chong.

  4. Daniel says:

    Hi ewe chong teh,

    Within 2 hours, you can cover the major attractions in Tongli if you don’t want to spend too much on them.

  5. ewe chong teh says:

    Hi, Daniel,
    I stay in FX Hotel Guan Qian Suzhou, I want to take bus to Tongli. Is it far away from my Hotel to
    North Square Passenger Bus Station (苏州火车站北广场客运站站).

    Thank you.

    Chong

  6. ewe chong teh says:

    Hi, Daniei,

    Going to Suzhou and Hangzhou from 2 Nov to 7 Nov. What is the weather? What clothes to bring? Thank you

    Chong

  7. Daniel says:

    Hi ewe chong teh,

    Normally the temperature at Suzhou and Hangzhou in early November roughly falls between 22 ℃ ( noon ) and 15 ℃ ( at night ). Sometimes it rains in November. Wear a jacket, jeans and prepare for a thin sweater and don’t forget to bring your umbrella.

  8. Daniel says:

    Hi ewe chong teh,

    North Square Passenger Bus Station is close to Suzhou Railway Station. It is easy to get from your hotel to Suzhou Railway Station, only 5km. You take subway or public bus, or just walk ( one hour ).

    As for how to get from your hotel by bus or subway, ask your hotel staff for help and grasp a map of Suzhou. When you get to North Square Passenger Bus Station, you line up to buy the ticket for Tongli.

    Have a good time in Tongli!

  9. ewe chong teh says:

    I would arrived FX Hotel Guan Qian Suzhou. At about 5.00pm. this 2nd Nov. prefer which place I can visit ?

    Thank you.

    Chong

  10. ewe chong teh says:

    We like to visit Tongli, Hanshan Temple, Lingering Garden in one day, is it possible ?

    Thank you.

    Chong.

  11. Daniel says:

    Hi ewe chong teh,

    Where are you? Or where are you going to start your visit? If you start your day trip from Suzhou, it’s possible to cram all the attractions you have mentioned on a day trip. Of course, you have to limit your time on each attraction.

  12. Daniel says:

    Hi ewe chong teh,

    If you arrive at Suzhou in the later afternoon, you may have a stroll along Guanqian Street in Suzhou for people watch, shopping and eating. Please check out the link below:

    http://www.tour-beijing.com/blog/jiangsu-travel/suzhou-travel/how-to-visit-guanqian-street-in-suzhou

    Have a nice time in Suzhou!

  13. ewe chong teh says:

    Hi, Daniel,

    I stay in FX Hotel Guan Qian Suzhou, would take the bus visit Tongli in the morning, than Hanshan Temple, Lingering Garden in one day. Please comment.

    Thank you.
    Chong

  14. Daniel says:

    Hi ewe chong teh,

    It looks okay.But you need to get up early to catch the early bus for Tongli and back to the city to continue your visit to Hanshan and Lingering Garden.

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