Situated on the shores of Taihu Lake, close to the metropolis of Shanghai, Wuxi offers a great blend of natural beauty and big city attractions, with the added bonus of easy access to one of Asia's most dynamic cities.
Wuxi's history dates back over 3,000 years, but it really prospered when the Great Canal was built through the area. The Wuxi section is one of the best preserved, with magical bridges and footpaths to follow.
Wuxi's Xihui Garden at the foot of Mount Xi is thousands of years old and offers a stunning mix of lakes, pagodas and fountains as well as the stunning Plum Garden.
One of China's largest lakes, Taihu is beautiful. Don't miss boat tours to Turtle Head Island: it's a little slice of heaven.
When you rent a car in Wuxi, getting to Shanghai is easy. See the sights, shop and dine, and be back in a peaceful retreat in Wuxi in under an hour.
Wuxi Zoo is a superb family attraction to keep little ones occupied, offering a variety of animal exhibits and amusement park rides.
"The Garden of Ecstasy" once charmed the Emperor Qianglong - one of the greatest of all Qing era rulers, and it stands a pretty good chance of snaring the hearts of all who visit. Situated in Xihui Park in western Wuxi, the garden had a turbulent past, being confiscated and returned on numerous occasions due to indiscretions by the owners. But it's survived, and now everyone can wander across the bridges, see the lakes and rock arrangements, and smell the aromas that intoxicated a man with the Mandate of Heaven. If it's good enough for Qianglong... Well, let's just say you'll understand why he had a replica made in Beijing.
Lake Taihu is a tourist magnet, and harbors several of Wuxi's outstanding attractions. One of the biggest freshwater lakes in the whole of China, it borders on both Wuxi and Suzhou, but some of the most attractive spots are on the Wuxi side. Try to get over to the Sanshan Islands, where mandarin oranges grow wild (and juicy). Turtle Head Island is a great place to snap some views of the city across the lake, while you can swim, enjoy some barbecue delights and unwind at tourist-friendly Hongsha.
Lingshan is a "scenic spot" located on a peninsula jutting into Lake Taihu, and is mainly famous due to one important inhabitant: the 88 meters high Grand Buddha. One of the largest Buddhas in the entire world, he understandably attracts plenty of attention, and meeting him is recommended, but be sure to check out the rest of the area, where artworks like the Nine Dragons Bathing Sakyamuni, and the 1,300 year-old Xiangfu Temple are just as interesting as their oversized neighbor.
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is one of the great romances of Chinese literature and, as is the way with great literature, it's also been turned into a hugely successful TV series. Even if you haven't caught the Chinese drama (which got some airtime in the west), Three Kingdoms City is an enthralling attraction. Located near lake Taihu, it contains most of the sets used in the show, including meticulously recreated temples, palaces, and even sailing vessels.
China's Grand Canal is one of the world's greatest engineering feats, stretching over 1,000 miles from Hangzhou to Beijing, and some of the best preserved parts are in Wuxi city. Bridges arch across the canal as it passes through the town, producing an almost Venetian feel, and you can take pleasure cruises from local operators, which are also a great way to see the sights at a leisurely pace. if you want to peek into lesser-known gardens, and look at pagodas that are hard to see from the street - the canal is the way to do so.
The best time to go is probably in the fall. October and November see mild weather and thinner crowds in Shanghai. But spring is magical too, especially as the cherry blossoms bloom.
The best place to fly to from North America is Shanghai Pudong Airport. From there, take the train to central Shanghai, then transfer to a service to Wuxi. It takes about 2 hours in total and costs CNY250.
Trains run to Wuxi from nearby Shanghai and Suzhou, as well as more distant Chinese cities like Hong Kong and Beijing.
The G42 runs from central Shanghai and Suzhou, while the G2 runs from Beijing (although from here, it's a long haul to Wuxi).
Buses run into Wuxi's central bus station on West Xihu Road from all major regional cities.
Some of the best hotels in Wuxi include the high-end Hotel Nikko, the Kempinski and the Intercontinental.
Chongning Road - Right at the heart of Wuxi, Chongning Road is full of excellent restaurants and places to relax like the Blue Bar Cafe.
The Grand Canal - China's Grand Canal snakes through Wuxi on its way to Beijing, and it's an incredible sight.
Binhu - An elegant lakefront area in southern Wuxi, Binhu is the jumping off point for boat tours of Lake Taihu.
Wuxi has two intersecting subway lines which provide coverage of the main areas. Single tickets start at CNY2. Bus fares are also CNY2.
Expect taxis to charge a basic fare of CNY10, which covers all journeys of 2 miles or less within the city center.
You can rent a car from companies like Aoji, Hesheng and Youkai. Prices start at about CNY40 per day.
Zhongshan Road is the place for bargain hunters to head and is a great place to pick up authentic Huishan clay figurines, as well as locally crafted teapots and even Lake Taihu pearls.
Supermarket options include Carrefour and Hualian, where 12 eggs will cost about CNY12.
If you want to enjoy some gourmet Wuxi xiaolongbao (dumpling soup), check out Xixin on Chongning Road. For great noodles and meat dishes, head to Xishengyuan or head to Blue Marlin Music Restaurant for fine seafood and entertainment. Meals will usually come to around CNY120 per person.