Shanghai Riverside Promenade is a unique 45km-long walkway along both sides of the Huangpu River. The entire walkway is also called Huangpu Riverside Walkway (Bingjiang Da Dao, 滨江大道), named after the Huangpu River. Between the Yangpu Bridge and the Xupu Bridge, the Shanghai Riverside Walkway is divided into five sections, which are named after the five districts of Shanghai:
- Yangpu Riverside (2.8km, belongs to Yangpu district)
- Hongkou Riverside (2.5km, belongs to Hongkou district)
- Huangpu Riverside (8.3km, belongs to Huangpu district)
- Xuhui Riverside (8.4km, belongs to Xuhui district)
- Pudong Riverside (23km, belongs to Pudong new district)
The past and the present of the Shanghai Riverside Promenade
When I was still living in Shanghai years ago, I remembered that old living quarters, historical old buildings, factories, old ferry ports dominated the Huangpu riversides. Later, all factories have been either relocated to the suburban areas or transformed into other functions. Several bridges crossing the Huangpu River and underwater tunnels have been built.
Then, the renovation of the historical buildings has taken place. Some old living quarters were demolished and new skyscrapers are erected. Today, the riverside is a multi-functional recreation park. People can explore the city’s history and culture while jogging, walking or cycling through the green landscape.
The Shanghai Riverside Promenade is the latest highlight of the city now. In 2018, when I visited my family and friends in Shanghai, I took the chance to walk along part of the Shanghai Riverside Promenade, the 2.5km Hongkou Riverside Promenade. Previously, this part was an industrial area with old ferry terminals. It wasn’t a nice place that I would like to spend my leisure time when I was still living in Shanghai. But now, how does it really look like?
Shanghai Riverside Promenade, Hongkou district
The 2.5km of Shanghai Riverside Promenade, which belongs to Hongkou district, refers to the waterfront between Qinhuangdao Road and Waibaidu Bridge.
I took the Metro Line12 and got off at Tilanqiao (提篮桥) station, the place where the first prison in East Asia located. Followed the Gongping Road (公平路), I headed towards the riverside and arrived at the Gongping Road Ferry Terminal. To the west is the Yacht Club, where I have seen several yachts parked there.
I continued walking along the Huangpu River toward the west. I could find many places to have a good view of the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Bund. The walkways and mini-parks along this part of Shanghai Riverside Promenade are elevated sand therefore are higher than the water level. The buildings built further away from the waterfront are at a much lower ground level.
The main sites along the Hongkou section of Shanghai Riverside Promenade
- The Park and the walkways
- The Cruise City (SIPG)
- Auchon automatic supermarket
- Magic Jungle
- The Astor House Hotel
- Consulate General of Russia in Shanghai
- Broadway Mansions Hotel
- Waibaidu Bridge (外白渡桥)
You can see this city like a local by joining one of those tailored tour, for example, 8-Hour Private City Tour. You can either enjoy an existing itinerary or customize your own route. Let the local tell you the city’s best kept secrets by spending a small amount of dollars.
The Park and the walkways
Small gardens, flower beds, elements of arts dominate the Shanghai riverside promenade, Hongkou district. Small paths link these elements and form a pleasant park landscape. Some paths are made of stones while others are covered with spacious wooden decks. Between the bushes and trees is the shadowed walkway. You can always find a place to sit and enjoy the riverside view.
There are lines for strolling, jogging, and cycling. The lines are wide and spacious. It was a working day around lunchtime, and I saw hardly any person walking there. I couldn’t imagine that in the center of Shanghai there is such a vast space for leisure activities. And, I could take as many pictures as possible without being blocked by other tourists.
The Cruise City (SIPG)
There were once eight major docks along the Huangpu River, including the famous Gongping Road Dock. They were built by the British East India Company near today’s East Daming Road (东大名路) in 1845. Today, several landmark buildings are the major sites in the area. They include such as the 320-meter-tall White Magnolia Plaza (白玉兰广场), the tallest building in Puxi, and the Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) building, also called the cruise city.
The 73,000-square-meter cruise city features attractions such as the Shanghai International Passenger
Transportation Center, the Rainbow Bridge, the Shanghai Docks Heritage Museum, a sports park, a music plaza, and shopping malls. The transportation center looks quite futuristic. Like all other landmark buildings, it is very stylish and has metal and glass façades.
Auchon automatic supermarket
An Auchon automatic supermarket seems to replace the traditional kiosks, like those seen in the tourist areas. No single staff works inside the supermarket. Customers have to identify themselves with an app prior to entry and scan their products at the cash register. They can use the WeChat and Alipay apps to pay. It sells some snacks, drinks and other daily goods.
It is said that it works for those above18 and below 50. There might have some legal issues related to the youth. Meanwhile, some elderly have problems to handle digital payments. Do you like this type of supermarket?
One modern attraction of the Shanghai riverside promenade is an outdoor entertainment complex named Magic Jungle (魔都矩阵)
It is a German-designed rope course featuring 94 challenges with the level from low to high for both children and adults. One can enjoy the waterfront view while climbing through the magic complex. It has a giant swing which flies over the waterfront.
The Astor House Hotel
The hotel is one of the well-kept historical sites along the Shanghai Riverside Promenade. It sits at the crossing of Suzhou Creek and Huangpu River.
The Astor House Hotel is one of the famous hotels in the world. In 1846, Peter Felix Richards, a Scottish merchant, opened one of the first western restaurants in Shanghai and the first western hotel in China, Richards’ Hotel and Restaurant (礼查饭店). The hotel was built in the Baroque style. In February 1858, Richards’ Hotel and Restaurant were relocated to the current site. Then, in 1859, it got the new name, the Astor House Hotel. On 27 May 1959, Astor House Hotel became the Pujiang Hotel (浦江饭店).
The hotel has been famous for the city’s first electric lamp, telephone, and a ballroom. In 1897, the Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty threw the first grand party at the Astor House to celebrate her 60th birthday.
In 1920, the Shanghai Stock Exchange opened at the premise and remained there until 1949 when it was closed. Later, in 1990, the Shanghai Stock Exchange re-opened in the ballroom of the west wing until 1998, when it moved to Pudong. During the period, the east wing still functioned as a state-run hotel. In December 2018, the China Securities Museum was opened in Astor House Hotel. The museum collection includes securities, bonds and other items relevant to the development of stocks and futures since 1978.
The building of Russian Consulate in Shanghai
Across the road from the Astor House Hotel is the Russian Consulate in Shanghai. In the late 19th century, the Russian imperial government set its investment focus to Manchuria. As a result of that, China’s trade with its northern neighbour soared. When a regular ferry service between Vladivostok and Shanghai started, the Russian tea merchants came to settle in the commercial capital of China. A few hundreds of Russian citizens resided within the Shanghai International Settlement in 1905. In order to protect their interests, the Russian Consulate was opened in 1896. It has occupied the present building since 1917.
The elegant building started its construction in 1914 and finished in 1916. During that time, however, the relation between the two China and Russia was changing constantly, the Russian Consulate had been closed and reopened for six times, which was regarded as one of the strangest events in the world’s history. The best position to take a photo of it is on the Waibaidu Bridge.
Broadway Mansions Hotel
Before I reached the Waibaidu Bridge (外白渡桥), I had a look at this historical building, the Broadway Mansions Hotel. The hotel is also named as Shanghai Mansion and is an Art Deco hotel designed by Mr. Bright Fraser, an architect from the UK. The building was an exclusive residential hotel. It took four years to complete.
At the time of its construction, the telephone system was installed. And its original phone number (46260) has remained unchanged, which is the last five digits of the current number.
The Broadway Mansions Hotel has four treasures. Two of them are the piano, transported from the UK to Shanghai in 1932, and the Antique Snooker Table, made in the UK in 1934. The third treasure is the OTIS Elevator, an antique hand-operated elevator. Lastly, the Gramophone was a product from Victor, an American phonograph company in 1917. Besides, it is also the best location to enjoy the Shanghai Riverside views.
Waibaidu Bridge (外白渡桥)
The last historical monument site of Shanghai Riverside Promenade in Hongkou district is the Waibaidu Bridge. It is at the north end of the Bund over the Suzhou Creek and is also the first steel span bridge in China.
About 150 years ago, there was no bridge over Suzhou Creek. The only way to get across was by ferry. In order to link the British and American concessions, a British businessman initiated the construction of a large wooden bridge over the Suzhou Creek in 1856. Locals called it Waibaidu because it was located “Outside of the Ferry Area”. Chinese had to pay to cross the bridge, and this triggered off a mass protest. To cope with the situation, another wooden bridge, named Garden Bridge, was built to the west of it. It was then free to the public. Later, the old bridge was demolished. In 1908, the steel bridge was constructed to replace the Garden Bridge. Since then, the streetcars could also drive over the river.
In addition to its traffic function, Waibaidu Bridge is also the viewpoint to enjoy the distinctive scenery on both banks of Suzhou Creek, with old-fashioned alleys at the north end and western buildings on the south. During the night, the illuminations of the bridge make it even more gorgeous and lively. Looking east to the opposite bank of Huangpu River, the Oriental Pearl Tower, Riverside Avenue, Jin Mao Tower (金贸大厦), and the World Financial Center are all clearly visible.
Where to stay
I have selected three hotels for you. They are not cheap but affordable. By staying at these hotels, you can explore the North Bund without any further transportation. Besides, it is also easy to visit the other top sites, such as Yu Garden, Lujiazhui Financial Centre, and the Oriental Pearl Tower. When the sun goes down and lights come up, it is easy for you to take a stroll along the Bund, to see the dazzling city skyscrapers at both sides of the river, and to indulge yourself in Shanghai’s vibrant nightlife.
Besides, you can also stay in one of the historic hotels in Shanghai to explore the history of Shanghai,
How to get there
City Sightseeing Bus Line 1, 3, 5 have stations at Waibaidu Bridge. You can pay cash to the driver.
If you take the Shanghai Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour, the Red Route of the bus tour has a stop at the Bund. You get off at the waterfront or at Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street.
Alternatively, you can take the Metro line 12 and get off at Tilanqiao Road (提篮桥). Or, take the Metro Line 4 and get off at Yangshupu Road (杨树浦路). Both lines require five to ten minutes of walking.