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Tongli:

You'll here it often repeated: "Tongli – the city Suzhou used to look like." The statement holds merit. Suzhou, despite its many charms and attractions (the city's gardens and Silk Museum are world-famous), has lost many of its canals to growth and modernization. Tongli, a suburb of Shanghai located about 15 miles south of Suzhou, hasn't. In Tongli, the canals still function much as they did centuries ago: providers of trade, transportation - and gentle tranquility.
China,Tongli

The best way to see Tongli is by canal, of course, confirming its nickname, "The Little Venice of the Orient." Wooden tour boats ease down the waterways, duck under bridges, and glide past residences, stores, gardens and restaurants. Most canals are no more than 30 feet across affording intimate views of the passing scene. Most residences you'll see were erected in the Ming (AD 1368 – 1644) and Qing (AD 1644 – 1911) Dynasties – relatively recent by Chinese history timelines. Yet their charm is irresistible, as are the charms of the town's old bridges. There are 49 of them, carrying such uplifting names as "Peace," "Luck," and "Celebration."

China,Tongli
Charm also flows from Tongli's simple, quiet ambiance. Though less than an hour's drive from Shanghai - China's most dynamic, most populated urban center - Tongli is a thousand miles away in it's easy pace and modest stores, restaurants and homes. If your tour includes Tongli, you'll have time here to shop, and if time and weather permit, enjoy a delicious lunch overlooking one ot the town's canals.
Major Attractions of Tongli include:

To many Chinese, Tongli is known as "The Town of One Garden, Two Mansions, and Three Bridges." We've added just a few more attractions to their list.
  • Tuisi Garden: Tongli offers visitors a number of traditional Chinese gardens. Tuisi Garden is the best-known, though hardly the oldest in town. Built by the imperial scholar Ren Langsheng in the late 1880s, the pavilions, rockeries, koi ponds and terraces are expertly designed. The garden graces just one-fifth of an acre - a testament to the centuries-old craft of creating space-saving sanctuaries within compact urban areas.
  • Two Mansions: The Jiayin and Chongben Mansions both date from the early 20th century yet follow Ming Dynasty design cues. They face each other across a stream and feature richly-carved wood ornamentation, luxuriouis appointments and private gardens.
  • Three Bridges: As noted above, Tongli bridges come with auspicious names. The most famous are the stone arches of the Peaceful Bridge, the Auspicious Bridge, and the Changqing Bridge.
  • Canal Tours: Your visit with Tongli includes a ride aboard a 12 to 15-guest wooden sampan. The craft, propelled by a "gondolier," is as quiet and as peaceful as the town. Down one canal are homes with small, private gardens; another canal is lined with small businesses and restaurants.
  • Canal-side Restaurants: Your visit with Tongli also includes (time and weather permitting), a delightful, canal-side lunch. Under the shade of camphor trees and umbrella-topped tables you can sit back, relax and watch the slow-moving river traffic pass by.
 

 
Tongli is featured
on the following tours:
  •Essential China Tour
  •Essential China +
  Yangtze River Cruise
  •Essential China + Guilin
  •Essential China + Tibet
  •Essential China + Lijiang
  •Essential China + Jiu Zhai Gou
  •The "Grand 14" Tour
  •The "Grand 19" Tour
 
 
"Sometimes called the ‘Little Venice of the Orient’, Tongli is surrounded by lakes on all four sides. It boasts clear waters, many bridges and gardens from the Ming and Qing dynasties, and is a perfect representation of Confucian culture"
- China Daily, “Top Ten Charming Chinese Towns,” April 24, 2006
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