Crossing the Zhenzhuo Bridge, the scroll arrives at Tiger Hill, one of the most famous scenic sites in Suzhou. The hill has been minutely and accurately described. A wide alley leads from the canal up the hill past the Sword-Testing Rock, a boulder with a crack along the top face, to Thousand-Man Rock, a natural plaza ringed with pavilions, halls, and scenic sites.
The sites surrounding Thousand-Man Rock include the Longevity Pavilion, mentioned in the preface. Other identifiable sites in the painting include Ancient Crane Torrent, Nodding Rock, Sword Pool, and Daxiongbao Hall. A brief history of Tiger Hill and a description of these sites appear in the Suzhou fuzhi (Gazetteer of Suzhou Prefecture), 1883 edition, in Zhongguo fangzhi congshu (Compendium of Chinese local gazetteers), Taipei, 1970, juan 7, pp. 4b-7a. The gazetteer (Note: This text is in Chinese.) mentions that a Longevity Tower was erected to the right of the main temple hall in 1689. The Northern Sung pagoda of the Yunyan Temple that crowns the hilltop was dedicated in 959 CE. The temple is the climax of any pilgrimage to Tiger Hill and its most renowned landmark.
The Kangxi Emperor made his outing to Tiger Hill on the day after his arrival in Suzhou; in the painting, however, Wang Hui has conflated two days' activities into one, integrating Tiger Hill into the flow of the main narrative. The emperor's actual route into Suzhou followed the Grand Canal, past Maple Bridge and Hanshan Temple to the Chang Gate. Had Wang Hui followed this route Tiger Hill would be left in the distance and would appear too insignificant. Instead, Wang Hui brings Tiger Hill into the foreground and reorients it so that we see it frontally, with all of its famous sights clearly visible.
The compression of time and space in the scroll not only serves to intensify the dramatic flow of the painting, it also enables Wang Hui to present important sites from their most favorable angle. The hills around Wuxi and the wall of the city are viewed from the northeastern side of the Grand Canal looking southwest. Arriving at Tiger Hill, this vantage point is reversed. The hill is approached from a direction opposite to the line of travel from Wuxi. This allowed Wang Hui to view Tiger Hill from its most characteristic angle so that all its sights would be visible. This is very different from the treatment of space in the comparable portion of the Qianlong emperor's southern inspection tour scrolls (Scroll Six: Entering Suzhou along the Grand Canal). In Xu Yang's depiction the scenery is presented from a consistent vantage point: the viewer remains northeast of the route looking southwest. As a result, Tiger Hill is viewed from the rear so that aside from its pagoda none of it characteristic features are visible. Wang Hui, on the other hand, suggests the actual route the Kangxi emperor followed when entering the city by showing the Grand Canal heading toward Maple Bridge and Hanshan Temple before it disappears. On the far side of Tiger Hill the Grand Canal reappears and the main narrative resumes as the viewer is guided into Suzhou.
A view of the temple halls on the peak of Tiger Hill, a local scenic spot on the outskirts of Suzhou. In the depiction of this same site in the Kangxi Emperor's southern inspection tour scrolls, Tiger Hill is presented from its most characteristic frontal view, even though one would not see it that way if one were actually traveling along the Grand Canal. In this scroll, however, the artist Xu Yang tried to maintain a consistent point of view along the entire tour route, so he was forced to depict the site from the rear -- as if he were filming the tour route from a railroad track placed along the east side of the Grand Canal. This reflects the influence of European principles of linear perspective on Xu Yang. In order to maintain a consistent reference point based on linear perspective, Xu Yang could not re-orient the mountain suddenly and show it from its most characteristic angle. It could be argued that while Xu Yang was able to achieve a kind of illusionary realism through this technique, he also detracted from the two most important functions of these scrolls as historical documents, which were to highlight the significance of the emperor's visit to important sites (such as Tiger Hill and the Silk Commissioner’s residence), and to emphasize how well the emperor was received by his subjects in every corner of the empire.
The neighborhood surrounding Tiger Hill was known for its gardens, as suggested by a compound selling potted dwarf plants (known in Japanese as bonsai) and "basin landscapes" (penjing). A similar establishment is shown in the same neighborhood in the Kangxi scroll.