Suzhou and Watertown
Famed for its UNESCO-listed classical gardens and elegant waterways, Suzhou was once a byword for high culture, art and society in old China. These days, the Yangtze River Delta city has sprawled upwards and outwards, though the center retains much historic charm among its canals crossed by arched bridges, and the composed landscapes of its enclosed gardens. Commissioned by wealthy merchants, officials and scholars, the rocks, trees, ponds and pavilions convene harmoniously to depict an idealized China in miniature. Beyond the garden walls, a raft of excellent museums, galleries, silk embroidery workshops and other handicrafts are proof that Suzhou's artisan spirit lives on.