The Bund

If you don’t know The Bund by name, you’ll probably know it by sight. It’s been considered the symbol of Shanghai for decades. This famous waterfront makes up the city’s skyline and is plastered across postcards, brochures, and the Shanghai image results.

Its cluster of recognizable buildings sits on the west bank of the Huangpu River, all sporting a different architectural style. The most famous of the bunch is The Oriental Pearl Tower, which is known for its futuristic look. Aside from making a fantastic subject for photographers, The Bund is full of little surprises that tourists love to uncover.

shanghai bund

Interesting Facts About The Bund

-The Bund stretches for about 1500 meters in length.

-The most famous part of The Bund is the cluster of 26 buildings that sit on the west bank of the river.

-The buildings on The Bund consist of Baroque, Gothic, Classicism, Romanesque, and Renaissance styles.

-The Bund is protected by a 1,700–meter flood wall that is also called, ‘lover’s wall.’ This area is considered one of the most romantic in Shanghai.

-The Bund translates to ‘Outer Beach.’

-The Bund as a whole has around 52 buildings.

-Shanghai has some of the best Art Deco buildings in the world, some of which can be found in The Bund.

-The buildings in The Bund housed important businesses like: Royal Dutch Shell, the social club for British nationals, Mercantile Bank of India, China, and London, Great Northern Telegraph Company, HSBC, The North Daily China News, and more.

the bund

History Of The Bund

Prior to the 1840s, The Bund was nothing more than a muddy river bank covered in reeds. Eventually, the area became a British settlement and in 1846, Shanghai was deemed an important trading port.

The Bund began to take shape as a path was paved and the riverbanks were reinforced. Commercial buildings began to follow as they were constructed in neat rows. In fact, there was a building boom during the beginning of the 20th century which turned The Bund into a prominent financial district in eastern Asia.

After the boom of new construction, the area became a hub for culture, economy, and politics. This made the district  a perfect spot for newspaper offices, banks, businesses, and the consulates for many of the world’s countries. It was the mix of people and their cultures that resulted in buildings with various architectural styles.

It was in the early days of the 1980s that economic policies began to decline in Shanghai. The buildings on The Bund that once functioned as government institutions were utilized for other purposes. In fact, many of them turned into hotels, and financial establishments.

During the early 1900s, the local government decided to promote Shanghai to tourists. They planned to extend The Bund in order to create an interest for both local and foreign visitors. They also tried to promote the buildings as ‘colonial relics’ to make the area more appealing.

In 2008, the entire area was shut down as a new traffic pattern was being established on The Bund. It took 33 months to complete but after the upgrades were made, The Bund was reopened to the public in 2010. With smaller highways and the installation of underground tunnels, there was more room to expand the tourist areas and sites.

subway futuristic tunnel

Culture Of The Bund

Because of its eclectic history, The Bund is pulsing with cultures from all over the world. However, it offers its own culture; full of romance, sophistication, and leisure. When you’re visiting The Bund, make sure to sample the culture through these top experiences:

-Take a Ride Through The Sightseeing Tunnel: Hop in an enclosed cart and take a ride through the underground tunnel. It’s full of psychedelic lights, colors, artwork, and visuals. It’s a strange experience that you just have to try.

-The Oriental Pearl Tower: This building looks like something from the future. While it’s great to look at from the ground, you can actually go inside and take a ride to the top. Make sure to visit when you’re hungry because there is a revolving restaurant at the top with a great view.

-Huangpu Park: This is one of the only green spaces on The Bund. There are plenty of gardens and plants to take your mind off the skyscrapers for a moment.

-Huangpu River Cruise: Another great way to see The Bund is from the river. You can take a cruise by day, however a cruise at night is best to see The Bund really shine.

-Photograph The Buildings: There are quite a few buildings on The Bund, however, there are a few that you should definitely get a glimpse of. Make sure to check out the Union Building, Asia Building, Nissin Building, Shanghai Club, China Merchants Bank Building, China Shipping Merchant Company, Danish Great Northern Telegraph Company, The Customs House, and the Peace Hotel.

-Visit the Waibaidu Bridge: This is a landmark of Shanghai and is located on The Bund.

-Find The Sculptures: There are several sculptures scattered around The Bund. Quite a few of them can be found in Huangpu Park.

-Valentine’s Wall: This romantic stroll is a popular spot for wedding photos. If you’re traveling as a couple, you’ll definitely want to snap a few photos in front of it.

boat at the bund

Tips For Visiting The Bund

-Bring your camera because the photo opportunities are endless.

-See The Bund from all different angles. I would suggest viewing it from across the river, on a river cruise, from the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower, at night, and during the day.

-Visit during different times of day so that you can experience the peaceful mornings, inspiring afternoons and the wild nightlife.

-Be prepared for crowds if you’re visiting in the evening, especially parents with young children.

-Make sure to wake up early and walk The Bund. You’ll get to see the locals exercising and dancing by the waterfront.

-Pack your own snacks to avoid the high prices in the area.

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