Travel Report: Suzhou Canal Cruise, China.
December 2018. If you’re looking to do a canal cruise in Suzhou, there are an abundance of routes and operators to choose from. During the summer you better book in advance, as the canals here get bombarded. I’m talking queues snaking down the street as far as the eye can see. Luckily I was spared all of that. After all, my Suzhou visit came over Christmas with grey skies and a biting cold, Not what you would call inspirational weather to get out onto the water.
In the end I was simply able to walk right up to the ticket counter on Shantang Street and grab a 70RMB ticket (£8/€8.95/$10.20) for a short, thirty minute loop.
Cruises from the Shantang Street pier leave every twenty minutes… or so they say. However, with only three people on the entire boat, our captain made us hang about for a while to try and squeeze in a few more customers. Finally, it was clear that nobody else was up for it. Hence our captain fired up the engine and off we chugged down the Shantang River past a series of crumbly old townhouses.
Suzhou Canal Cruise.
Suzhou’s network of pretty waterways form what is possibly the most beautiful section of China’s Grand Canal. This is the longest and not to mention oldest canal in the world. It runs a staggering 1,776 kilometres from Beijing in the north through five provinces to the city of Hangzhou in the south.
Despite the dreary weather conditions, I think a winter cruise is probably far better than a summer experience. The canals looked wonderfully spectral that day and, moreover, I had the boat more or less to myself. This somewhat eerie tunnel served as a slideshow of Suzhou’s most famed attractions.
At a brisk half an hour, I took one of the shortest canal cruises available. There are also 1 hour city routes and 2-3 hour expeditions and day cruises on larger vessels. Some of these even have dinner and entertainment thrown in. To see what the more reputable, high end companies offer, take a look at Viator and Top China Travel. It’s even possible to cruise between cities, check out Travel China Guide for more on that. Otherwise, just wander the streets and grab a boat that takes your fancy.
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