Where We Be
This is the picturesque main street of Tongli, a small town with big charm
Tongli Water Town, China
Less than half an hour away from Suzhou is the
water town of Tongli, so-called because of all
the waterways crisscrossing it. Tongli’s intact
historic buildings and small-town feel make it a
charming change of pace from all the big cities
we’ve been visiting. No less than 15 rivers are
said to meander through Tongli, with some 50
bridges crossing them. Like Suzhou, Tongli is
also sometimes referred to as the Venice of the
East, and as in Venice, many households are
built right next to the canals instead of streets.

We enjoy the quiet pace of life in Tongli with its
ancient stone bridges, riverside restaurants,
narrow paved alleyways, and boats poling up
and down the canals. The thirty minutes we
have to wander around town on our own is
hardly enough, but we see a fair portion of it
before having to head back. It’s worth noting
that for all its charm, Tongli is definitely on the
tourist map. No town or city we’ve visited has
been untouristed -- and yet in many cases you
only have to wander a few streets away from
the main street to find untouristed sections of
touristed cities.
You can quickly see why Tongli is so popular with tourists. It retains its small-town feel and quiet pace of life.
This woman with cormorants fishes more for tourists than fish
Even the kids are charming
Local shops sell a wide range of produce and staples
We could have used more time to explore the hidden back streets of town
Mahjong and Chinese chess are popular ways to pass the time outdoors with friends
Each bridge in Tongli is distinctive and has a name. The smallest bridge in town is called Dubu, or Single Step!
Spring continues to add blazes of color to each place we visit
These fearsome lions guard the entry to one of Tongli's main streets
Wouldn't you like to have lunch or dinner here?
Like Suzhou, Tongli is known for its beautiful residential gardens
A quick wander through back streets reveals little touches of ordinary life