In the early 19th century, The Bund was merely a narrow, muddy towpath on the banks of Huangpu River. Within a hundred years, European and American investors had created a lavish boulevard that rivaled the great avenues of the West. After decades of post-revolution neglect, this grand street is back in business. Many of its 52 architectural treasures have been lovingly restored and the once traffic-clogged, multilane street has been remodeled into a pedestrian-friendly promenade.
Stroll along the riverside path beside what is known as Lovers’ Wall, and walk between two worlds. On one side admire the colonial grander of The Bund’s gothic, neoclassical, baroque and art deco buildings, while just across the river rise the modern skyscrapers of Pudong.
The Bund is often called the “museum of international architecture” and the best way to delve into its treasures is to take a self-guided or group walking tour. While many of the buildings are occupied by banks and trading houses, others have become the homes of the city’s most exclusive boutiques, hotels, restaurants and clubs. Stop by the Jazz Bar at the Peace Hotel. Luminaries such as Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham once enjoyed the hotel’s art deco opulence. Next door, take tea on the rooftop terrace of the Swatch Art Palace Hotel.
At sunrise, join Shanghai locals for a jog or tai chi class by the river, then enjoy a steaming dim sum breakfast. Hop on a river cruise for uninterrupted views of The Bund, Pudong, Wai Baidu Bridge and Huangpu Park. Longer cruises also take in the “Three Colored Waters,” the point where the different hued waters of the Yangtze River, Huangpu River and East Sea meet. Don’t miss The Bund after dark, when the buildings and promenade are romantically illuminated.
The nearest subway to The Bund is East Nanjing Road Station. There are also ferry boats and an under-river pedestrian tunnel that connect The Bund with Pudong.