Suzhou is a city on the Yangtze River widely renowned throughout the country for its silk industry and natural beauty. In fact, there is a well-known saying in Chinese that roughly translates to “Up there, you have heaven. Down here, you have Suzhou and Hangzhou,” Hangzhou being the name of a nearby city also known for its scenic attractions. Today, Suzhou continues to live up to the old proverb. The city is filled with gardens, parks and all sorts of traditional decorations such as pagodas or arched stone bridges that attract vast numbers of tourists each year. The city’s silk and other manufacturing industries are not slouching either; Suzhou, along with the nearby cities of Shanghai and Nanjing, make up one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.

Besides silk crafts, Suzhou is also known for many other arts, among them Chinese opera, wood and jade carving, embroidery, painting and calligraphy. If you want to bring back a souvenir, samples of such works are widely available from local markets and small shops. It is relatively cheap to buy artwork from someone who crafts it while you watch, but be prepared to haggle for goods from small store vendors. This is both beneficial for you and expected by the sellers. If something does not have a tag, the price is negotiable.