There are no direct flights from Suzhou to Hangzhou, but with just 100 miles (160 km) between them, you can make the trip in an easy two hours by car or bullet train. Suzhou is known as "The Venice of the Orient" for its number of canals, so for a truly special transit journey, you can even take an overnight boat through the water towns and all the way to Hangzhou, admiring the serene, starlit scenery on the way.
Duration: 1.5-2 hours
There are 28 high-speed departures each day, split across Suzhou Railway Station, Suzhou North Railway Station, and a handful from Industrial Park Railway Station. Almost all of these are destined for Hangzhou East Railway Station, although there are a smattering of trains that go to the centrally located Hangzhou Railway Station.
It's also possible to take one of the 15 normal-speed trains that leave each day from the main Suzhou Railway Station, but bear in mind that the journey time ranges from 2.5 to 6 hours.
Duration: 2 hours
Arranging a private transfer means a slightly longer journey time, but you have the ease and convenience of being picked up from your hotel in Suzhou and dropped at your destination in Hangzhou. It's best to book transit through your hotel or a travel agent rather than hailing a taxi in the moment. You will be lucky to get a driver who speaks English if you attempt the latter.
The journey itself is straightforward. From Suzhou, you'll head south along the G15 road and onto the S11 as far as Yuxinzhen, then take the G60 towards Hangzhou. Note that there are tolls along the way and passengers are generally expected to pay them, usually at the end of the trip.
Duration: 2.5 hours
The direct bus between Suzhou North and Hangzhou North is a decent backup option if you're unable to source a car. Buses run at roughly one-hour intervals from 7am until 3pm and only take half an hour or so longer than the bullet train. Once you factor in waiting in line to buy train tickets at the station and time to get through security and passport control, this way can even work out faster overall.
Duration: 13 hours
A trip down this stretch of the famous Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, which runs through the center of Suzhou, provides a romantic and unsurprisingly popular alternative to the usual train, car and bus options. If you're not in a rush, you can take the overnight ship that departs Renmin Road in Suzhou in the early evening and arrives at Wulinmen Wharf in Hangzhou early the following morning. The ticket includes a night's accommodation on the boat.