Ancient Chinese city of Suzhou draws millions of tourists

By Bob Schulman, Photos courtesy of Suzhou Tourism.

Sky Screen tops SIP shopping area.

Don’t let the name fool you. One of Asia’s biggest tourism attractions is called the Singapore Industrial Park, but it’s nowhere near the famous city-state at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. The park, known as the SIP for short, is actually some 2,400 miles away in the ancient Chinese city of Suzhou (about a 30-minute ride by bullet train from the coastal city of Shanghai.)

Ferris wheel overlooks Jinji Lake.What’s the big draw there? For starters, the SIP features the world’s largest Sky Screen – even longer than the four-block-long Fremont Street canopy in Las Vegas – topping the park’s Times Square Shopping Center. Then there’s Asia’s largest Ferris wheel, rising nearly 400 feet above the SIP’s adjacent Jinji Lake. As many as 360 thrill-seekers at a time can take hair-raising, 30-minute-long loop-de-loops in the wheel’s 60 carriages.

How about a giant fountain and water curtain wider than two football fields -- showcasing dazzling laser light displays on the side of the fountain? You’ll find China’s largest waterscape engineering project of its kind (with the fountain peaking at a whopping 354 feet) on the shore of Jinji Lake.

Located in the center of the Yangtze River Delta some 70 miles west of Shanghai, Suzhou (pronounced Sue-Joe) hosts millions of visitors a year. Besides the SIP/Jinji Lake tourism area the city offers some 400 attractions ranging from pagodas and temples to historical districts, UNESCO-listed gardens and world-class museums.

Ancient bridge in Suzhou.Staying there: Among a wide range of tourist-class hotels are upscale properties such as the Crowne Plaza Suzhou, the InterContinental Suzhou, the Kempinski Hotel Suzhou and the Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel Suzhou.

Getting there: Trans-Pacific flights serve three international airports in the Suzhou area: Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA),

Pudong International Airport (PVG) and Sunan Shuofang International Airport (WUX), the latter just 14 miles from Suzhou.

More info: You’ll find a lot more about things to do and see in Suzhou on the city’s website.

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