Tiger Hill

Famous Chinese poet Su Dongpu has been guilting people into visiting Tiger Hill for hundreds of years with his much quoted (at least by the Suzhou Tourism Bureau) line, “It would be a pity if you had been to Suzhou but didn’t get to visit Tiger Hill.” Su is quite right: Tiger Hill is a very nice spot to visit even if it doesn’t have as much meaning for foreign tourists as it does for the Chinese. According to legend this is the burial site of King He Lu of the Wu Kingdom, who is regarded as the founder of Suzhou. Soon after his son buried him here a white tiger appeared to stand guard over his tomb, which is how the hill received its name.

Tiger Hill is scattered with sights, including some lovely villas and Yunyan Temple, which has its origins is the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420). But probably of most interest is the Yunyan Temple Pagoda, also known as the Leaning Tower of Suzhou. Constructed entirely of brick, this seven-story pagoda has survived since 961 (Song Dynasty), though it has developed a lean. It’s interesting that it should draw a nickname from the Leaning Tower of Pisa, given that at 47.7 meters, Yunyan Temple Pagoda is both taller and older than its Italian counterpart. The pagoda is open for exploration from 8-11:30 and 13-16:30.

Otherwise the 21 hectare grounds of the Tiger Hill Scenic Area provide some lovely vistas and beautiful scenery, including deep pools lying far below narrow bridges, rockeries and tree-lined hills. A very pleasant place to explore, though it can become very crowded.

Admission: ¥60 peak season (16/04-30/10); ¥40 low season (31/10-15/04). Open: 7:30-18 (7:30-17 from 08/10-30/04).

Address: North end of Huqiu Lu. Tel: +86 (0512) 6532 3488.

Directions: Tiger Hill is north-west of Suzhou’s Old Town. If you enjoy walking, you can do the full stretch of historical and pretty Shantang Jie, all the way from Chang Gate (Changmen) to Tiger Hill (about 3.5km). Otherwise, show the Chinese above to a taxi driver or take tourist buses Y1 or Y2 from the train station, north pagoda, or the Humble Administrator’s Garden.

Show the taxi driver: 请带我去虎丘,谢谢。 (Please take me to Tiger Hill. Thank you.)