Suzhou is an easy day trip from Shanghai
, just 25–40 minutes from the Hongqiao and Shanghai railway stations. The city may be nicknamed the Venice of the East for its many canals, but it’s also known for its classical gardens and silk production and embroidery. Suzhou’s largest garden is the Humble Administrator’s Garden, its nearly 50 buildings spread around a lake and connected by bridges. At the Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute, visitors can watch as expert silk embroiderers work on delicate pieces. For one of the best introductions to Suzhou, take a boat ride along the Grand Canal to see the small tile-roofed houses for which the city is famous.