Tongli, or Tong-Li, is a charming little urban village barely a few minutes’ drive south of Suzhou. Its waterways and canal systems, as well as the label of ‘Oriental Venice’, extend beyond Suzhou to the historical town of Tongli. This idyllic water world is a group of riverine islands, created by the region’s numerous lakes and rivers, connected by nearly 50 ancient stone bridges. Known for its influential cultural stature for more than a century, Tongli’s historic waterfront still hums with trade and commerce by dawn and traditional Chinese operas by twilight. Once known as Futu, much of the town has preserved its traditional building architecture of whitewashed walls and tiled roofs, and its picturesque network of willow-shaded canal front. Explore Tongli’s back alleyways paved with cobblestones and lined with quaint bow-shaped bridges to get to its timeless soul.