No visit to Shanghai is complete without a visit to the world famous Bund. With wide open roads, colonial buildings and the ultimate postcard photo opportunity the Bund in Shanghai is a must.
Located on the west side of the Huangpu River, the Bund in Shanghai came to life in the 1840s when it was established as a British settlement as part of the Shanghai International Settlement. (You may also hear it called the UK Concession.) This explains a lot of the grand, western style architecture you find here which would be fitting of London or Paris. Today it is a world famous waterfront spot for postcard perfect pictures.
As Shanghai became a thriving port city, the Bund of Shanghai become an important financial, cultural and political base. Even today you will find various political embassies located in the vicinity.
When people think of The Bund in Shanghai they may often think of the stunning images of high rise buildings and the Oriental Tower. These buildings are actually located across the river in an area of Shanghai known as Lujiazui in Pu Dong. However you need to be on the Bund side of the river to take the famous style pictures.
There is a pedestrian walkway alongside the river which offers exceptional views and the opportunity to take a boat ride on the river.
The architectural differences of buildings on either side of the Shanghai river makes for a fascinating contrast between traditional and modern buildings. Both are breathtaking.
With height restrictions applying to the buildings on the Bund side this wonderful diversity will continue for a long time into the future.
Today the Bund in Shanghai is around 1.5 kilo-meters long and has at least 26 grand structures along the Huangpu River. Little has changed in the appearance of these buildings since the 1930s, however the inhabitants have.
Following the end of World War II and Japanese occupation the People’s Republic of China was established.
For the next few decades the buildings were used for mainly political reasons. However by the 1980s the historic sites were again for the benefit of financial institutions, hotels and commerce. I think the changing history is summed up perfectly by a building historically known as the HSBC Building which is now used by the Pudong Development Bank.
You can read more about the buildings along the Bund from here.
As is always the case in China, whilst at the Bund you are dependent upon the weather. With smoggy conditions like I experienced on my visit of November 2014 the photos are quite different to a clear day.
I do find amazing how the scenery changes. Shanghai is like Dubai in that there are often new skyscrapers being built over time. I can provide a contrast of then and now scenes with a picture I have from a trip in 2005.
Back then the Oriental Pearl Tower dominated the Pu Dong skyline. Yet now it is dwarfed by the Shanghai World Financial Center (the building with an oblong hole near the top), the Jin Mao Tower (which has a flowery like peek) and the Shanghai Tower which is twisted in appearance.
When you look back towards the Bund in Shanghai many of the old style buildings are now banks.
On the corner with Nanjing Rd you will find the rather grand looking Peace Hotel. This is a famous building, now split into two which can be dated back to the influence of the Sassoon family. It looks like a great place to be and wake up to the view each morning.
The Bund area in Shanghai has an array of sculptures including the monument to the People’s Heroes. More directly, by the intersection with Nanjing Road you’ll find an unnamed statue. This is of Chen Yi who was the first Communist mayor of Shanghai.
What does The Bund mean?
The meaning of bund is an embankment or of an embanked quay. Relating to the Persian word of “band” it is also suggested that German “Bund” and English phrases “bond” or “bind” give some association to a levee or dam.
However it has been attributed to some Baghdadi Jews who settled in the Shanghai area in the 1800s. With it being named after the bunds/levees which lie along the Tigris river in Baghdad. In particular the Sassoon family were very influential Baghdadi Jews in the prosperity of the area of the Bund.
In modern day terms you may also hear the area referred to as Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu which means the East Zhongshan first road. You may also hear it referred to as Wai Tan.
Do be wary of touts along this popular touristy spot. I was frequently approached by strangers who wanted to sell me a fake watch. I also tried to hold a straight face when I was asked “You want lady massagey?” I just ignore these people, pretending I don’t understand and they soon disappear.
Along The Bund in Shanghai you will find a Tourist Information Office and also notice lots of bus tours stop here.
It is also a very romantic spot so don’t be surprised to see many loved up couples.
On my most recent visit a wedding party arrived for their photo shoot. In China the photos are often taken weeks apart from the actual wedding day so these two were probably not married yet.
To make your visit complete you can also take the underground Bund Tourist Tunnel with a fabulous light display as you travel to Pu Dong.
More recently The Bund in Shanghai has gained fame for all the wrong reasons. During the New Year celebrations welcoming in 2015 a stampede of people at this popular location resulted in the death of more than 30 people.
Getting to The Bund in Shanghai
If you are not on an organised tour in Shanghai you will still be able to get to the Bund easily. Taxis are very cheap and your hotel staff can assist you if needed.
Alternatively you can take the very cost effective Shanghai Metro system. Metro Line 2 or 10 will take you to the East Nanjing Road station. The Bund is only a short walk from here.
Do the magic photo opportunities of visiting the Bund attract you? Have you already seen these delights of China? If not then there are a wealth of opportunities to plan and book your trip to Shanghai.
The Bund in Shanghai is undoubtedly a must see out of all the attractions of Shanghai.