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Annette Esselborn, Germany
Reviewed on 13 November 2019

We had heard about the "water towns" near Shanghai and chose this tour because it offered a customizable, full-day trip to Suzhou and Tongli using rail transport rather than bus or car which we understood would take more time to get there and back. Our guide Rita met us on time in our hotel lobby. She was an excellent companion for the day -- a great knowledge of the history of the region, a very pleasant personality, and fluent English skills. Rita took us by taxi to the train station and got us quickly through the ticket pick-up process, the station security, and the boarding of an impressive Chinese Rail high-speed train. I don't believe we could have navigated ourselves the complicated process to use the train. Rita saved us a lot of time and stress. The trip takes only 25 minutes from Shanghai to Suzhou by train. A very pleasant trip. On arrival Rita asked us what we wanted to do as priority, and took us first to the Garden of the Master of the Nets. She gave us an in-depth tour of the gardens and buildings, and her recommendation to start here in Suzhou was excellent as we were almost alone, away from the throngs of tourists elsewhere in the city. From there we visited the Silk Museum, and had lunch in central Suzhou at an excellent local restaurant. Rita ordered a range of great dishes. After lunch we did a relaxing boat ride on the charming canal along Pingjiang Lu, followed by a visit to the Gusu District, one of the many other water towns (part of Suzhou) with a stroll along the main shopping street and views of the canals. Rita chose sites that gave us an excellent overview of the history and charm of the area, and avoided the most heavily visited tourist sites. The pace was not rushed and covered a lot. We saw very few foreign tourists throughout the day, which made it a special experience. We then boarded the fast train back to Shanghai and Rita accompanied us by taxi from the station back to the hotel. It was a super day and something we could not have done nearly as well without a guide. Highly recommended. Cost is not cheap, but it included all taxis, train fare, guide, lunch, entry fees to the Garden and the canal boat ride. It is also important to mention that our communication with Sunny in setting up this and other tours in Shanghai was impressive. She speaks good English, answered our messages within hours, and provided advice on how best to structure our tours. Well done.

Reviewed to: All Inclusive Suzhou Gardens and Tongli Water Town Discovery Tour From Shanghai

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