Suzhou is located to the west of Shanghai. It is famous for its bridges and gardens, as well as the fact that it stands on an ancient canal. Tongli, alternately Tong-Li is a town in Wujiang district, on the outskirts of Suzhou, Jiangsu province. It is known for a system of canals, it has been given the nickname "Venice of the East". The place retains many of the features of an ancient Wu region town.
Suzhou is famous for its over 60 Classical Gardens, collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has the most UNESCO-recognized gardens in the world.
The Humble Administrator's Garden and Lingering Garden are among the four most famous classical gardens in China. The Canglang Pavilion, Lion Grove Garden, Humble Administrator's Garden and Lingering Garden, respectively representing the garden styles of traditional architecture are called the four most famous gardens in Suzhou. Other gardens inscribed on the World Heritage List include the Couple's Retreat Garden, the Garden of Cultivation, and the Retreat and Reflection Garden. Five Peaks Garden which dates to the Ming dynasty (1522-1566) is also located in the Suzhou. Ming painter Wen Boren established his home on the site. The original name was Qiayin Shanfang and the garden is located at Changmin West Street.
The Suzhou section of the Jiangnan Canal, Grand Canal (China), includes ten city gates and over 20 stone bridges of traditional design and historic areas that have been well preserved, as well as temples and pavilions. There are a full 24 waterways in Suzhou near the Grand Canal.
In 2015, both 800-year-old Pingjiang Road Historical Block (平江路) and 1,200-year-old Shantang Street Scenic Area (山塘街) were added to the list of China's "National Historic and Cultural Streets".
Pingjiang Road runs parallel to the Pingjiang River for 1.5 kilometers and is lined with homes and some teahouses. Shantang Street, over twice as long at 3.8 km, is described by the BBC as retaining "the alluring qualities of an old canal-side street: whitewashed buildings are completed by red-tasseled lanterns that swing softly in the breeze, adding to the charm of the river bank".
Boat tours are offered on the waterways of this city that was dubbed the "Venice of the East" by Marco Polo because of its criss-crossing canals and stone bridges. The Grand Canal (from Beijing to Zhejiang province) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tongli is half an hour away from Suzhou city and about two hours from Shanghai by buses. The town is also accessible by Suzhou Metro (Line 4).
The Retreat & Reflection Garden
One of the most notable attractions is the Retreat & Reflection Garden (退思园). It was designed by the artist Yuanlong for Ren Lansheng and built in 1885–1887. In 2001, the Retreat & Reflection Garden was recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is an island on the lake. There are Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism in this place. Its scenery is very beautiful. During the Spring Festival, people will go there to strike the bell to pray.
The Pearl Tower
It is a not real tower and it is just a model made up of pearls. Also, it's the name of a famous drama. It is in this place that the moving story between Fangqin and Chen Cui’e happened. Fangqin's father was banished by the court. So he came to his aunt to ask for help, but when his aunt heard of the bad news of Fang's she despised the poor and refused to help him. But his cousin was very kind and gave the Pearl Tower secretly to Fangqin. So latterly, Fangqin became the Zhuangyuan.
There are 55 bridges in the town of Tongli. The most famous are the three bridges. They are Taiping, Jili, and Changqing Bridges. They all represent blessing. When getting married, the birth of a child, celebrating birthday, people will walk across the three bridges to pray for the health and happiness.