Clearly visible on Suzhou’s skyline and with a history of 2,500 years, Tiger Hill is a stunning visual and cultural symbol of Suzhou. One of Suzhou’s ancient poets once said that to visit Suzhou and not see Tiger Hill would lead to a life time of regret. The poet spoke truly and if you travel to Suzhou, a trip to Tiger Hill is a must.
The history of Tiger Hill can be traced back to over 2,500 years when King He Lu was buried on the hill in 496BC. According to legends, three days after the King’s funeral a white tiger sat on the grave as if guarding it. From that point on the hill was known as Tiger Hill.
The Tiger Hill Pagoda (also called Yunyansi Pagoda) on the summit of Tiger Hill is the symbol of Suzhou and was built between 959 and 961.
Grounds and lay out
Tiger Hill is 36 meters in height and covers an area of over 14,000 square meters. The hill is surrounded by a canal with bridges crossing the canal at the northern and southern exits. The hill is covered by a large number of historical sites that you can see as you climb over the hill and wander around it.
Roughly half of the actual area of the Tiger Hill is the grounds surrounding the hill and includes the canal, creeks, ponds, gardens, small forests and bamboo groves reminiscent of the scenes in the cult Chinese movie “House of Flying Daggers”.
Many locals visit Tiger Hill in the morning and can be seeing exercising, practising Taichi, walking, chatting and enjoying themselves. I’ve listed below some of the highlights of Tiger Hill.
Tiger Hill Pagoda – Also called Yunyansi Pagoda is the key structure on Tiger Hill and is made with bricks, has 8 sides, 7 floors, a height is 47.7 meters and weighs about 6000 tons. The pagoda has a slight lean with an angle of 3,59 that is visible in photos.
Tourists are not allowed to climb Tiger Hill Pagoda. Normally I’d find that a little disappointing but I’m happy not to climb a thousand year old pagoda with a height of 48 meters that looks like it is about to fall over.
Sword Pond – King He Lu was capable warrior and a sword nut and is said to have had a collection of over 3000 rare swords. After his death, these swords were buried at the bottom of Sword Pond at the base of Tiger Hill Pagoda. Sword Pond has not been excavated to search for these legendary swords because the base of the pagoda rests on the foundations of the pond.
Wanjing Villa – The villa is a garden of pot plants and Bonzai shrubs/trees covering an area of roughly 1,700 square meters. Suzhou is famous for its classic Bonzai trees which are intended to create images of mountain and forest scenes. The gardeners are highly respected for their skill and mastery in the cultivation of Bonzai plants that has been passed down over the generations. If you are a gardener you will love the Wanjing Villa
Thousand People Rock – After King He Lu’s tomb was built the 1000 workers who built it were killed. Their blood is said to have stained a very large rock that is now called a thousand people rock.
Sun Tzu Pavilion – You have probably heard of Sun Tzu’s art of war. This pavilion is dedicated to the same Sun Tzu. Sun Tzu was a strategist and General in the Wu King Helu’s army during the rise of the Wu Kingdom. The pavilion is a large open area bordered by trees and several small pagodas. I enjoyed breakfast here while watching the local ladies practices their sword Tai Chi.
Tiger Hill is located to the north west of Suzhou city and is around a 15-20 minute bus or taxi ride. The buses to catch to Tiger Hill are tourist buses 1 and 2 and public buses 8 and 949.
Tickets and times
Ticket prices are 60rmb per person and the opening times for the main area of Tiger Hill is from 7:30 to 5:30. The Wanjing Pavilion is open from 8:00 to 5:00.
Tiger Hill is large and has many interesting sites to see I I recommend you set aside at least half a day to properly enjoy it. Morning is a good time to go because the locals are out and enjoying themselves at this time and there are less tour groups.