Top 5 Flea Markets in Suzhou
Updated: May 13
As a foreigner in Suzhou it can be hard to find the locally- acclaimed and established amenities and shopping spots. The following provides details of some of the best market-style shopping facilities within and around the city.
1. Pearl Market
Wei Tang Pearl Market
Located: 20 Km North of Suzhou Industrial Park in the Xiang Cheng District.
Zhong Guo Zhen Zhu Cheng, 88 Pearl Lake Lu, Wei Tang, Xiang Cheng District
Travel by car takes approximately 45 minutes
Travel by bus 7 and 871 takes 1 hour 40 minutes.
The wonder of this market is that you are encountering a significant part of the city's heritage, pearl growing and jewelry. There are two sites next door to each other with two floors. Individual vendors are situated around the building and you can browse pre-made items or have items hand strung for you. Vendors sell a mix of fresh water and sea- water pearls, varying from black to pink to cream to white. Some coral, jade, turquoise amongst other gems are also available. Many vendors are open to bartering for multiple purchases.
Top tip: Take some lunch and a drink, cafe and refreshment options are a little scarce!
2. Cultural Market
Located: 18 km west of Jinji Lake. Address: Wenhua Shichang, 117 Siqian Street, Old Town
Travel: 40 minutes by car, 50 minutes by subway line 1, exit at Yangyu Xiang.
The unpretentiousness of this site renders you feeling as though you have accidentally stumbled into someone's attic. The second floor in a rather haphazard array of stationary and art supplies, including any crafter's item you thought possible, from felt flowers to fishing wire, to caligraphy paper and glow paint. I suppose it's the equivalent of Hobbycraft in the UK, but most items are quite a lot cheaper.
Top Tip: take a reusable bag or two, you'll probably come away with more than you intended.
3. Embroidery Town
Located: North West of Suzhou Industrial Park; approximately 45 minutes drive.
Address: Xiu Pin Shichang, Zhen Hu Si Qiao Dong Jie
Silk embroidery reaches deep into Suzhou's ancient past. It is heart-warming to find that in this little neck of the woods, the old tradition of hand- weaving and hand embroidery continues. The area boasts a small museum and a long street dedicated to the embroidery shops. As I ventured into the museum, a guy of about 30 years of age spoke very good English and offered a small tour of his family's work. He talked of how his mother had taught him to embroider in the specific, ancient method and he has since become an artist and explored more abstract ways to create art through the medium. It was great to view the differing styles of his and his mother's work and admire some authentic silk-embroidered items from the dynasty eras.
Top tip: Most vendors are open to bartering for multiple purchases. Make sure your didi, (taxi) APP is in good condition, it can be difficult to find an alternative method of transport back.
4. Fabric Market
Location: Opposite the Suzhou Central Railway Station.
Travel: Subway Line 1 to Leqiao, Line 4 to Suzhou Railway Station (two stops).
There are actually several fabric markets in Suzhou, however this one is the best as it sells authentic silk, whereas the others sell more fake silk. You will also find many other types of fabric and haberdashery.
Top Tip: Cross the road from the central station and you will see a large complex. The fabric market is situated inside the complex, on the 3rd floor. The B side is usually open, whereas the C side is sometimes closed.
5. Plants and Flowers Market
Address: Su Nan Hua Hui Zhong Xin, 1108 Youxin Road, Gusu District, (Old Town)
If you are attempting to spruce up your balcony for those dreamy, mosquito- infested summer evenings, this is the best place to kit out. There are three floors. The ground floor holds potted plants and bouquets. The Basement holds wholesale items, priced at 10- 30 RMB (1 £1- £4) per bunch.
Top Tip: Take a taxi, or your own car, taking 5ft bushes on the bus is not advised.