Suzhou Travel Advice, Information and Directory
|Health Care||Accessing Money|
|Book Shops||Visa Extensions|
|Internet Access||Postal Services|
|Phone Services||Tourist Information Centers|
Health, Doctors and Pharmacies in Suzhou
There are plenty of pharmacies around Suzhou and there shouldn’t be any trouble finding one (although communication at pharmacies can be difficult).
If you need medical attention your best bet is the Sing Health Medical Clinic which has doctors who speak English.
Accessing Money in Suzhou
ATMs that accept foreign cards are plentiful in Suzhou and ATMs almost always have a choice between English or Chinese operating language. Occasionally you will encounter an ATM that doesn’t accept foreign cards, but you can always rely on Bank of China or ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) ATMs which are plentiful enough. Just look for the logo of your particular card (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, etc) on the ATM.
The Bank of China can always exchange money. A convenient central location is at #188 Ganjiang Xi Lu.
Book Shops in Suzhou
The Foreign Languages Bookstore in Suzhou is currently under renovation. So for now the best bet is the rather limited Suzhou Book City.
Visa Extensions in Suzhou
Internet Access in Suzhou
All hotels and hostels in Suzhou will have some form of internet access. Almost all hotels of 3 star or higher classification have in-room internet access, which can be used if you’re traveling with a laptop. Many hotels provide this service for free while others charge anywhere from $5-$15 per day, depending on the hotel. Hotels will also have a business center with internet access as well as a printer.
Internet cafes are common in Suzhou, however, most have no English signs to identify them. Internet cafe is ‘wangba’ in Chinese and luckily these characters are quite distinctive (网吧). Keep your eye out for those characters when seeking an internet cafe.
Post Offices and Courier Services in Suzhou
The Chinese postal service is generally quite efficient. Postcards or letters sent from Suzhou will usually take around 7 or 8 working days to reach North America, Europe or Australia. Parcels will take a bit longer. If you need things to be sent urgently then you can use one of the international courier services.
There are plenty of post offices around Suzhou. The main post office is conveniently located at 1401 Renmin Lu (at the intersection with Jingde Lu; Open 8-20). China Post also offers an Express Mail Service which is a cheaper alternative to using international courier companies. In addition to postal services it is also possible to make Western Union transfers at this branch.
A number of international courier companies have offices in Suzhou. With a courier service, a letter will take about three or four days to reach North America, Europe or Australasia and cost around $50 to send. Packages will cost more, depending on their weight.
Address: 277 Yangdong Lu (South Xinyi Building), 1st Floor.
Tel: (0512) 6715 8000
Address: 8 Suhua Lu (Sovereign Building), 23rd Floor.
Tel: (0512) 6252 3055
Phone Calls To and From Suzhou
The international phone code of China is “86” and the area code of Suzhou is “0512”.
If you call to Suzhou from abroad, you should dial the international access number (usually 00 or “+”), then the code for China “86”, then the code for Suzhou without the ‘0’ (512), and then the 8-digit city number.
If you call to Suzhou from inside China, then dial the full Suzhou code (0512), and then the 8-digit city number.
If you dial a Suzhou number inside Suzhou, just dial the 8-digit number, without any prefixes. Note that if you call a Suzhou landline from a mobile phone while in Suzhou, you should include the ‘0512’ prefix.
For international calls, IP (Internet Phone) international calling cards can be bought at most small shops, newsstands and hotels in Suzhou. Just look for a sign saying “IP”. A card with ¥100 credit actually sells for about ¥35 (some vendors will try to charge you ¥40). Rates vary depending on what country you’re calling, but a card with ¥100 credit will generally buy you about 20-25 minutes talking time when calling to the US, Europe or Australia.
If you plan to stay in Suzhou for a longer period it is reasonably cheap to buy a SIM card with one of the local operators: China Mobile or China Unicom. A SIM card usually costs around ¥100-120 and generally includes ¥50 credit. You also pay more depending on how ‘lucky’ your phone number is. Average call charges are ¥0.6 per minute and ¥0.15 per SMS. Once you move outside the city where you bought the card you have to pay slightly higher ‘internal roaming’ charges.
Tourist Information Centers in Suzhou
There are a number of Suzhou Tourist Information Center outlets around the city, usually near the major tourist attractions. They generally feature helpful staff with excellent English who will be happy to hand out tourist brochures. They also sell excellent maps for ¥5. There’s one on Dongbei Jie (just west of the entrance to the Humble Administrator’s Garden).
Suzhou Online Resources
More Suzhou: This is the website to go to for restaurant and nightlife listings. They put out a monthly English-language magazine in Suzhou which is quite good.
Classic Suzhou: The official website of the Suzhou Tourism Bureau has some useful information about sightseeing and general travel advice.