For people tired of going to West Lake in Hangzhou or The Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou (I mean, after you visit these two places for more than 10 or 20 times), they may be interested to find out somewhere that si near Shanghai, and offers something new. Wendy and I went to Jinji Lake last Tuesday on our six year wedding anniversary. To my greatest surprise, the Jinji Lake has been turned into a new West Lake type of tourism destination, and a Xintiandi type of clustering of modern chain high-end restaurants, and Around-Century-Park type of high-raising residential areas.
How to Get There
Among all the transportation options, driving seems to be the most practical way to get there (do you want to take public transportation just to have a cup of tea along the lake?) It is about 100 km from Shanghai, and takes 1 and half hour to get there.
You can take Shanghai-Nanjing Expressway 沪宁高速 A11 (wonderful newly completely 4-lane expressway) heading Nanjing direction, and turn to Suzhou City Ring Expressway (East) 苏州绕城（东）heading Zhou Zhuang 周庄. Take the Luzhi/Airport Road 甪直/机场路 Exit, and get to Airport Road (a.k.a S343) heading west for 15 km. Jinji Lake is on your right hand.
If you do want to take public transportation, find a train from Shanghai Railway Station to Suzhou Railway Station (pretty frequent – 30 minutes interval), and take Bus 178 to get there. Google Map also suggests that you can walk from People’s Square to Jinji Lake. It costs 16.5 hours, and 81 km. :-)
The Emerging Center
The Jinji Lake is a natural lake that is a little bit bigger than West Lake of Hangzhou (7.82 sq. km v.s. 5.6 sq. km). Just like the old capital Hangzhou to West Lake, the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) is the source of the development of Jinji Lake. With huge amount of industrial and commercial activities going on in the park, it is taken for granted that the big natural lake within the area become the entertainment and residential center.
Sitting at any corner of the lake, and look around, you will be amazed by the high raising business towers, and residential buildings. They surround the lake like a curtain. Even you are used to the buildings in Lujiazui, you may still be surprised by the numbers of skyscrapers, and the speed people are building it. If this would have happened to the West Lake, people may say it is a disaster. But in Jinji Lake, the concerns seem to be much less, since this lake on the first day, was designed and built to be a modern West lake – the skyscrapers are also part of the characteristic of Jinji Lake, just like mountains and trees do in West Lake’s example.
Li Gong Di 李公堤
Li Gong Causeway (Li Gong Di 李公堤) is another reason to convince me that Jinji Lake is moving toward the direction of West Lake. The 1400 meters long ancient causeway is now renovated to be a modern street with all kinds of restaurants, and bars.