Tour the ancient and splendid city of Suzhou, with its rich cultural traditions, ancient houses and splendid landscapes. Suzhou, after all, is the capital of the Wu Kingdom during the 514 B.C. You will be in for a treat, as this city is famous for its scholars, architects, artists, and of course, its gardens. The beauty and artistry of the gardens are such that these are considered the best gardens in the world.

Suzhou is your place to be if you want to view classical and tranquil gardens, some of which you can trace back to as early as the 6th century B.C. To date, there are around 200 gardens, products of Suzhou's highly-developed culture and booming economy. The beauty and sheer number of these gardens are some of the main reasons why Suzhou is called the "earthly paradise" in this side of China.

Now, what is a classical garden? It is primarily a picture of the world. It uses the most basic of materials – stones, water, wood and plants. A classical garden is a creatively designed masterpiece that works even with limited garden spaces. It is characterized by an illusion of infinitude and a blending of the basic elements to depict mountains, rivers and waterfalls. It also makes use of structures – terraces, pavilions, bridges and towers – that are designed to blend with nature. A classical garden also carries great literary meanings and symbolisms and is thus a cultural goldmine.

The most popular of the Suzhou Gardens are the Lingering Garden, the Humble Administrator's Garden, the Lion Grove Garden and the Canglang (Blue Wave) Pavilion. These gardens represent various styles of different dynasties, namely, the Qing, Yuan, Song and Ming dynasties. The first three gardens are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. There is also the Garden of Master of Nets which show an excellent specimen of a medium-sized garden.

The Humble Administrator's Garden is Suzhou's most popular and largest gardens. Aside from being part of the World Heritage List, it is also named as one of the Cultural Relics of National Importance Under the Protection of the State. It boasts of ethereal loveliness and one-of-a-kind designs. Built by Wang Xianchen in 1509, it has as its base the ruins of a temple and an old house. The garden features pavilions, halls, rock formations, small forests and plenty of water in the form of winding streams and lotus pools. It also features structures such as the Hall of Distant Fragrance, the Celestial Spring Pavilion and the Small Flying Rainbow Bridge. The Pagoda Reflection Pavilion features an amazing optical illusion. Looking at it, you may think that the pavilion is rising, when part of what you actually see is just the reflection of the pavilion in the water.

The Lingering Garden is just outside of the Changmen Gate, in Suzhou. It is an exquisite example of the Qing style. Built in 1593, it features carvings on the sides of the buildings' corridors. There is also a collection of uniquely shaped limestones. The garden has ancestral temples and domiciles built among the trees and flowers. It largest hall is the Celestial Hall of Five Peaks. Among the attractive buildings are the Hao Pu Pavilion, the Green Shade Pavilion, the Pellucid Tower and the Refreshing Breeze Pavilion.

The Blue Wave or Canglang Pavilion is among the oldest existing classical gardens in Suzhou. It has a range of man-made mountains, waterscapes and a stone bridge. The Canglang Pavilion features poems of the Song era in its stone pillars. There is also a green water pool surrounded by weeping willows. There is also the Enlightenment Hall, the Smelling Prunus Mume Pavilion, the Temple of 500 Stages and the Elegant Bamboo House.

Lastly, there is the Lion Grove Garden, which is in 23 Yuanlin Road. It is richly adorned by towers and decorative pavilions and structures, such as the True Delight Pavilion, the Standing-in-Snow Hall and the Pavilion for Greeting the Plum Blossoms.