Long-term residents will remember Suzhou Creek, not for its beauty, but for it's smell... which... wasn't something to be bottled and sold as fragrance. The Shanghai government embarked on 12-year clean-up projects in 2000 which added embankments, cleared out the sludge, and dredged up whatever mysteries lay at the bottom. Then in 2019, the district governments started a plan to upgrade the creek to add urban gardens, greenery, and paths for cyclists and runners.
If there's one thing we can say about Suzhou Creek, it is that it is one example of the city's ability to rapidly transform. It's really turning into something, and especially the area around the newly opened Fotografiska gallery has all the potential of turning into a creative center of that part of the city.
Suzhou Creek has had boat tours for a couple of years, but recently the city has extended their route all the way up to the Bund and added nicer open-air boats. It's operated by Juss Event, the city government's company that also all the big sports events like the Tennis Masters Cup or the F1. They have a lot of experience with sports events, but apparently not so much experience with boat cruises - the whole thing is a bit of work in progress. Very Shanghai.
Anyway, last week, we boarded one of the ships, on the newly christened tours that only just started in September.
Read on to have a glimpse into the tour, as well as instruction on how to book tickets.
Right now, there are two types of boats for the Suzhou Creek cruise:
The first one, "Shanghai Impression" (上海印象), is a small boat accommodating up to 11 people. It is reminiscent of the iconic Shanghai brand car, featuring an open convertible design for an open-air experience.
For those seeking greater comfort, the "Time Shuttle" (时空之梭) offers a medium-sized, fully enclosed boat with a capacity of up to 20 passengers. It is equipped with air conditioning for a comfortable experience in both summer and winter.
Where to Get On and Off:
You'll have to purchase tickets in advanced - you can't just show up at one of the wharves and hop on a boat.
Currently the Suzhou Creek cruise operates from five wharves: Waitanyuan is just a few meters off The Bund, Sihang Warehouse next to the
Sihang Warehouse Battle Memorial, Changhua Road, Zhongshan Park, and Changfeng Park. Click here to see them all on a map.
When booking tickets, you can choose your starting point and destination. Prices vary from 60rmb to 160rmb per adult, with children receiving a 50% discount. The duration of the journey depends on the chosen route, ranging from a leisurely 30 minutes to a more extensive 90 minutes.
During the cruise, passengers are treated to an onboard narration that sheds light on the historical significance of the areas along Suzhou Creek. This feature enriches the experience by providing insights into the area's rich history. It's important to note that currently, the narration is only available in Chinese.
How To Book
Tickets can be purchased via the WeChat mini-program "You You Su Zhou He" (悠游苏州河), with presales opening 48 hours in advance at 10 a.m. daily. To secure your preferred route, especially on weekends and holidays, it's advisable to book early, as tickets can be difficult to obtain at the last minute.
Scroll down for the full guide:
Essential tips to keep in mind when purchasing tickets:
- Each order is limited to a maximum of four tickets.
- An adult may accompany no more than two children. Children aged 0-6 are eligible for free tickets, while those aged 7-14 can enjoy half-price tickets. All passengers, including children, must have a ticket, and children are not allowed to board the boat alone.
- Tickets bought on the day of the cruise are non-refundable. For advance purchases, refunds can be requested up until midnight on the day of the cruise. The refund policy allows for a 50% refund if tickets are returned three days in advance, and a full refund if returned seven days before the cruise.
- You may need to present your ID card or passport for verification, so please have it on hand.
- Ticket checks commence 15 minutes before the cruise's departure and conclude 5 minutes before leaving. It's unnecessary to arrive too early, but punctuality is crucial to prevent missing the boat.
- Smoking and bringing pets aboard are strictly prohibited.
Can You Book Your own Boat?
For an exclusive experience, Suzhou Creek provides the option to rent an entire boat for private events. The rental rate for the smaller boat begins at 2500 RMB per hour, and the larger boat is offered at 3500 RMB per hour. This service is anticipated to be available soon, offering more personalized adventures on Suzhou Creek.
Hell, yeah. Suzhou Creek doesn't have the most beautiful scenery in all of Shanghai, and the water is still far from sparkling clean – it would probably cause mutations if you dangled your hand over the side - but it's come a long way from the wretched tongue of toxic sludge it once was. Plus, it's much less touristy than the Huangpu River cruises.. In the evenings, they blast up all the fancy lights along the bank, so you can cuddle up to your sweets, bathed in the reflection of neon on water. Good for a lazy, touristy day with some out-of-towners.
Below is a step-by-step guide to purchasing tickets via the "You You Su Zhou He" (悠游苏州河) WeChat mini-program.