"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Travel Report: What To Eat Tongli Water Town, China.

Hot crispy bread Tongli Water Town China

December 2018. So it turns out exploring Tongli Water Town can be hungry work! Be warned though, many of the restaurants and cafes here are overpriced tourist traps. There are some beautiful eateries around town, but always check the menu first. One cafe I went to tried charging 150RMB (£17/€19/$22) for a pot of tea. Having promptly exited, I subsequently decided to look into street food options. My first stop was this cheerful guy selling crispy slices of hot, seasoned bread. They go for 1RMB apiece (£0.11/€0.13/$0.15). You basically can’t get cheaper than that!

This woman was selling what I can only describe as a type of fried fishcake. She cooks them up right in front of you for a highly agreeable 5RMB (£0.60/€0.64/$0.74). She was also really friendly!

Salty pancakes Tongli Water Town China

Salty pancakes! What To Eat, Tongli Water Town.

Not everyone oozed the kind of charm I was looking for. This gruff old goat was cooking up pancakes, which turned out to be unexpectedly salty. Hm. At some point a chunk of ash fell from his mouth and hit the floor, literally brushing the edge of the pan. But hey, in for a penny in for a pound, I still tried one for 3RMB (£0.35/€0.38/$0.44). They weren’t great to be honest, hence I declined his offer to purchase a bag.

If you’re looking for a sweet bite, Tongli Town’s specialty is a brand of boiled ginger candy similar in form to traditional British Rock. Similarly, this stuff is rock hard and it was more than my ageing teeth could handle to defeat more than a few bites. The guy here also makes a show out of the creation process in the Ming & Qing Shopping Street opposite Taiping Bridge. As you enter the town from the entrance gates, just cross the first bridge and turn right.

What To Eat Tongli Water Town.

Pork shanks Tongli Water Town Suzhou China.

Pork shanks! What To Eat, Tongli Water Town.

Tongli Water Town also specialises in massive chunks of sticky red pork shanks. Talk about meat overload! There are quite a few open fronted stores like this once scattered around town. However, for the most part they seem to be purely takeaway joints rather than sit down restaurants.

Black pepper beef and rice Tongli water Town Suzhou China

Black pepper beef with rice, Tongli Water Town.

Having spent the better part of a day in Tongli, I finally settled down in one of the fancy cafes on the Ming & Qing Shopping Street. I stayed here for about three hours editing photos, putting out my daily post and doing some website maintenance. In that regard, this Black Pepper Beef and Rice (45RMB/£5.20/€5.70/$6.60) proved to be excellent fuel!

Like this? Check out more of travel reports on Tongli Water Town.

You can also read my travel guide to Suzhou. Or maybe delve further afield with my stacks of reports from across China.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Travels logo travel reports and short stories.

Leighton Travels is proud to blog in collaboration with



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: