Tongli Ancient Town – Ticket Price, Opening Hours, Location, and Highlights

tongli ancient town

Tongli Ancient Town (同里古镇), nestled in the heart of the Jiangnan water region in Wujiang, Suzhou, is a picturesque town surrounded by interconnected lakes and crisscrossed by meandering rivers, dividing the town into seven islands. Almost every household in this ancient town is nestled along the water’s edge, creating a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere with narrow alleys and well-preserved Ming and Qing Dynasty architecture. Unlike other bustling tourist destinations, Tongli exudes a serene ambiance with fewer visitors on regular days. However, when night falls, the town transforms into a mesmerizing spectacle with the glow of lanterns illuminating the eaves, creating a charming and enchanting atmosphere.

The ancient town’s exploration area is relatively small, making it ideal for leisurely walks through its cobblestone streets. Alternatively, visitors can opt for a paid ride on a human-powered tricycle to explore the town’s charm at a more relaxed pace.

Tongli’s rich history can be traced back to the “Songze Culture” and “Liangzhu Culture,” dating back to five to six thousand years ago. Even in the Neolithic era, early settlers engaged in agriculture and thrived in this region. The favorable natural conditions led to Tongli being initially named “Futu,” signifying its richness. By the time of the Han and Tang dynasties, it had already evolved into a bustling market town and later became an established town during the Song Dynasty.

Table of Contents

Basic Information

Estimated Length of Tour3 – 4 hours
Ticket PriceThe town is free, but there are charges at different attractions. The combined ticket that grant you access to all of them costs 100 RMB.
Opening HoursMost attractions operate from 8.00 to 17.30
Telephone Number0086-0512-63311140

Location and Transportation

Tongli Ancient Town is situated in the Jiangsu Province of China, approximately 18 kilometers (11 miles) away from Suzhou’s city center. Suzhou, often referred to as the “Venice of the East,” is renowned for its numerous ancient water towns, and Tongli is one of the most well-preserved and historically significant among them.

The town is strategically located on the eastern shore of Taihu Lake, one of China’s largest freshwater lakes. Its favorable geographical position made it an important hub for trade and commerce during ancient times, contributing to its prosperity and cultural development.

There are numerous coaches from Suzhou to Tongli Ancient Town. You can easily find them at other attractions or the bus station. If you travel from Shanghai, the most convenient way to get to the town is to first take a high-speed train to Suzhou and then transfer to a coach at the railway station. Although there are express coaches from Shanghai to the town, they generally take much longer time.

HIghlights of Tongli Town

Traditional Architecture

traditional architecture in tongli ancient town

Tongli Ancient Town boasts a plethora of ancient buildings, including the Chen Qubing’s former residence dating back to the Qing Dynasty. Covering an area of 1364 square meters, it features a half-pavilion, family shrine relics, and notable structures like the Hundred-Foot Tower and Haoge Hall. The Haoge Hall served as a place for social gatherings, while the Hundred-Foot Tower was used for book storage and writing. Another notable structure is the Chongben Hall, located on Changqing Bridge in Fuguan Street, facing south and built by Qian Youqin in 1912 by renovating parts of the old Gu’s “West Mansion.” Though not large, it is compact and exquisite in its architectural design.

Three Bridges

the tranquil canals and bridges in tongli ancient town

Among Tongli’s numerous bridges, three stand out within a short distance of 50 meters. These are the Taiping Bridge spanning East Liu and Qizi, Changqing Bridge, commonly known as Xie Family Bridge, spanning East Liu and Aiwei, and Jili Bridge spanning Qizi and Aiwei, located between Taiping and Changqing Bridges. Folk customs in Tongli include the tradition of walking across these three bridges, a ritual believed to bring good luck, fertility, and protection from disasters.

Tuisi Garden

tuisi garden in tongli ancient town

Constructed from the 11th to 13th year of the Guangxu era in the Qing Dynasty (1885-1887), Tuisi Garden is a masterpiece with pavilions, towers, terraces, corridors, archways, bridges, pavilions, halls, rooms, and verandas surrounding a central pond. The main residence consists of two buildings, north and south, serving as the living quarters for the garden’s owner and family. Connecting the two buildings is the “Zouma Tower” corridor, which has side staircases to accommodate the movement of servants during inclement weather. The stone gate on both sides of the residence is built with clearwater bricks to prevent fire and theft.

Ancient Cultural Relics

ancient cultural relics in tongli ancient town

Tongli Ancient Town is a treasure trove of ancient cultural relics that bear witness to its rich history and cultural significance. Among the relics are elegant temples, ancestral halls, and ornate memorial archways, showcasing the town’s deep-rooted traditions and religious practices. Visitors can explore the exquisite craftsmanship of centuries-old wood and stone carvings, intricate paintings, and calligraphy preserved within these historic structures. Each relic holds stories of bygone eras, dynasties, and influential figures who shaped the town’s identity. These precious remnants offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives, beliefs, and artistic achievements of the past, making Tongli an invaluable repository of China’s cultural heritage.

Traditional Arts and Crafts

traditional arts and crafts in tongli ancient town

Tongli Ancient Town is a haven for traditional arts and crafts, where time-honored skills are passed down through generations. Skilled artisans continue to create exquisite silk embroidery, a delicate art form admired for its intricate designs and vibrant colors. The town is renowned for its intricate woodcarvings, featuring ornate patterns adorning temples and historic buildings. Clay figurine making is another treasured craft, with artisans sculpting intricate figurines depicting ancient characters and mythical creatures. Visitors can witness these master craftsmen at work, appreciate their dedication to preserving these ancient arts, and even bring home unique handcrafted souvenirs that encapsulate the rich cultural heritage of Tongli.

Delicious Local Snacks

foodie paradise of nanchang street

No visit to Tongli is complete without indulging in its local delicacies. Mingqing Street and Zhuhang Street, flanking the entrance gates, are densely packed with snack stalls. Tongli’s distinctive pastries, such as Wosu Su (sock-bottom crisp), Qianshi Gao (lotus seed cake), and Mayata Bing (malt pancake), are renowned. Additionally, traditional Jiangnan treats like Guihua Xiaoyuanzi (osmanthus small round cake) and Zhuangyuan Ti (scholar’s hoof) tantalize the taste buds. Wandering along these two streets provides a delightful culinary journey, allowing visitors to savor the flavors of Tongli’s delectable offerings.

Vlog about Tongli Ancient Town

Useful Information Summarized from Reviews

Optimal Visit Time: The daytime scenery in Tongli Ancient Town is recommended over the nighttime experience. It’s suggested to plan your visit during the day to fully appreciate the charm of the town.

Interesting Activities: Tongli Ancient Town offers a variety of interesting activities, including traditional Chinese opera performances in the gardens and water-themed traditional weddings. These activities provide a glimpse into the town’s vibrant traditional culture.

Free Admission Timing: Entrance to Tongli Ancient Town is free before 8:00 AM and after 5:00 PM. However, it’s important to note that some of the paid attractions within the town close around 17:15.

Boat Ride Information: Boat rides in Tongli Ancient Town are priced at 120 yuan per boat, with each boat accommodating up to 6 people. The boat ride takes approximately 20 minutes, allowing you to explore the scenic waterways of the town.

Notable Teahouse – Nanyuan Tea House: Nanyuan Tea House (南园茶社) is a well-known establishment in Tongli. It’s famous for its traditional Chinese tea culture. In the morning (8:30 AM to 11:30 AM), they serve breakfast, and in the afternoon (2:00 PM to 4:00 PM), you can enjoy tea while listening to Pingtan, a traditional Chinese storytelling and ballad art form.

Other Ancient Towns in Suzhou

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