The Village of Tongli

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January 23rd 2009
Published: January 23rd 2009
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Tongli is an amazing place. It is one of the Water Towns located near Suzhou. It has an many canals as it does streets and it is these canals that define the village. The village is thousands of years old and almost all of its buildings date from the Ming and Qing Dynasties and are in amazing condition. The area around Suzhou was famous for it's Hui Merchants. They were local people who traveled around China as businessmen and amassed huge fortunes. Some of them were actually richer than the emperor himself. They returned home and built magnificent gardens and mansions and utilized architectural designs from throughout China. Because of this, the tiny village of Tongli has some amazing surprises inside it. There are many mansions and private gardens. A ticket to Tongli costs 80rmb and it includes entry into the private gardens and mansions. Water taxis ply the village's canals and if you ask the gondolier will sing traditional local songs for you. Local musicians can be seen sitting around the village playing music for visitors, and the opera stage located in the center of the village stages free operas every day. There are many water towns to visit in the area, but Tongli is special. If you take a bus to Tongli in the morning it feels a bit tourists, but at 2:30 all of the busses to Tongli leave and with them the tourists. At that time all of the tourists shops close and the local ones open. The locals come out of the woodwork and life continues as italways has. It is at this time that the village comes to life. Little restaurants and teahouses open along the canals and each person hangs traditional Chinese lanterns along the canals. In the evening the lanterns are lit and create a warm rosey glow to the village. Locals stroll along the canals in the evening enjoying the site. If you visit Tongli please get a room for the night and watch this village come to life, but don't tell your friends. I don't want this beautiful place to change. My dream is that when I retire I will move to Tongli and open up a teahouse there. A fantastic place to spend my old age.

Ticket Price:
80rmb (Price includes all gardens and scenic spots)
Water Taxi: 80rmb for 30 minutes
Time Needed:
1 day
Hours of Operation:
Located on the eastern shores of Taihu Lake outside of Suzhou

In September 2008 I was sent on an inspection tour with China Odyssey Tours. I am the Marketing Manager of China Odyssey Tours. No one is told that I work for the company, and since I am a foreigner I can experience a tour the way our customers do. That way I get the real experience without any VIP treatment. I check on the sites, hotels, restaurants, and guides to ensure that they all meet our rigid quality guidelines.

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