Shanghai Riverside Promenade, Where the Past Meets the Present

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)
Park landscape along the waterfront in Shanghai
Park landscape along the waterfront in Shanghai

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.  This leads to the rebuild of old ferry terminals and the expanding of Huangpu River Cruise lines. The renovation of the historical buildings has taken place. Some old living quarters were demolished and new skyscrapers are erected. Today, the area 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. Opposite to the Lujiazhui Financial Center, it is also called the North Bund Area. The waterfront area was previously home to state-owned enterprises which had been long closed to the public. Residents are now able to walk or cycle from Waibaidu Bridge to Qinhuangdao Road along the river through new paths.

I took the Subway Line12 and got off at Tilanqiao (提篮桥) station, the place where the first prison in East Asia was located. First followed Dongchangzhi Road (东长治路) toward the west, then crossed the Gongping Road (公平路), at the crossing of Gaoyang Road (高阳路) I turned to the south and walked toward the riverside. There, I started my riverside walk. To the east of the Gaoyang Road is 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. The Hongkou Riverside Promenade is at the north the Bund. Therefore, I could find many places to have a good view of the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Bund.  The walkway and mini-parks along this part of Shanghai Riverside Promenade are at a much higher level than the water level. Those buildings built further away the waterfront are at a much lower ground level.

Yacht Club at the North Bund, Shanghai
Yacht Club at the North Bund, Shanghai

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 around Shanghai. 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. They are wide and spacious. It was a working day around lunchtime, and I saw hardly any persons 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.

Shadowed walkway along the Shanghai Riverside Promenade, Hongkou district
Shadowed walkway along the Shanghai Riverside Promenade, Hongkou district
Recreation lines along the Huangpu Riverside Promenade, Shanghai
Recreation lines along the Huangpu Riverside Promenade, Shanghai

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 what is now East Daming Road (东大名路) in 1845.  Today, eight landmark buildings are the major sites in the area. They include such as the 320-meter-tall White Magnolia Plaza, 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 has a nickname “The Drip” (一滴水) because it is in tint blue and has a shape of a water drip. It looks quite futuristic. Like all other landmark buildings, it is very stylish and has metal and glass façades.

The Music Plaza
The Music Plaza

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 take the goods and the money is deducted from their Chinese PayPal accounts automatically upon leaving. It sells some snacks, drinks and other daily goods. At the time of writing, there is no such supermarket in France yet.

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?

Auchon automatic supermarket
Auchon automatic supermarket

Magic Jungle

One modern attraction of the Shanghai riverside promenade is an outdoor entertainment complex named “Magic Jungle”. It is a German-designed project 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 Magic Jungle, Huangpu Waterfront in Shanghai
The Magic Jungle, Huangpu Waterfront in Shanghai

The Astor House Hotel

This is one of the well-kept historical sites along the Shanghai Riverside Promenade. When I approached the crossing of Suzhou Creek and Huangpu River, shortly before the Waibaidu Bridge, one historical building came into my sight, the Astor House Hotel.

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 site on the northern banks of the Suzhou Creek. Then, in 1859, the hotel was renamed to the Astor House Hotel while retaining the original Chinese name until 1959.

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.

On 27 May 1959, the name was changed from the Astor House Hotel to the Pujiang Hotel (浦江饭店). The Shanghai Stock Exchange was opened at the hotel in 1920 and remained there until 1949 when it was closed. It was re-opened at the same location in 1990, using the ballroom of the west wing of the hotel until the Shanghai Stock Exchange was relocated to Pudong in 1998. Stock Exchange ran in the west wing, while the east wing of the building still functioned as a state-run hotel. In December 2018, the China Securities Museum was opened in Astor House Hotel. The museum features significant stock and bond certificates and recreations of scenes in the development of the exchange.

The Astor House Hotel in Shanghai
The Astor House Hotel in Shanghai

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, 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.

The building of Russian Consulate in Shanghai
The building of Russian Consulate in Shanghai

Broadway Mansions Hotel

Before reached the Waibaidu Bridge (外白渡桥), I had a look at this historical building, the Broadway Mansions Hotel. It is also named as Shanghai Mansion and is a five-star Art Deco hotel designed by Mr. Bright Fraser, an architecture icon from the UK. The Mansions was originally built in 1934 as an exclusive residential hotel.  It took four yeasr to complete.

The Broadway Mansions features a simple and modern style of the exterior. The brick patterned a steel-framed red brick building is with the curved symmetric stepped-back façade, which is one of its distinctive features. It stands straight at the north end of the Waibaidu Bridge. The phone system was built at the time of its construction, and its original phone number (46260) has remained unchanged, which is the last five digits of the current number.

If you are interested in staying in this hotel, please check at Booking.com or at HotelsCombined.com to find a good offer.

Broadway Mansions Hotel, Shanghai China
Broadway Mansions Hotel, Shanghai China

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 Wills initiated the building 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 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, and the World Financial Center are all clearly visible.

Waibaidu Bridge (外白渡桥), Shanghai China
Waibaidu Bridge (外白渡桥), Shanghai China

Where to stay near the Hongkou Riverside Promenade

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 transportations. Besides, it is also easy to visit the other top sites, such as Yu Garden, Lujiazhui Financial Centre, and the Oriental Pearl Tower. Furthermore, you can take the Shanghai Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour at the Bund and discover the other historical areas in Shanghai without any hustle. 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.

  • Broadway Mansions Hotel – Bund has the stunning panoramic views of the Huangpu River and a 3-minute walk to the Waibaidu Bridge. The hotel features vintage-style furnishings. Its 6 dining options offer a wide variety of Japanese, Chinese and French cuisine. Drinks and live music can be enjoyed at the British Bar on the Bund.
  • W Shanghai – The Bund features an outdoor pool with a stunning city skyline view and an indoor heated pool as well. It is only 200 m away from International Cruise Terminal Subway Station (line 12)
  • Hyatt on the Bund is located strategically at the northern end of the Bund, Hyatt on the Bund is a 3-minute stroll from Waibaidu Bridge. Guest can spend a relaxing afternoon at the Tea Room while enjoying spectacular views of the Bund, Huangpu River, and Lujiazui financial district.

Related post: Historic Hotels in Shanghai, Where the City’s Old Lifestyle is Represented

How to get to Hongkou Riverside Promenade

City Sightseeing Bus – Line 1, 3, 5 have stations at Waibaidu Bridge. You can pay cash to the driver. At the time of writing this post, the price for a 24-hour ticket is CNY 30 and a 48-hour ticket is CNY 50. It doesn’t include any admission fees to the sites.

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. There are tour options to includes entrance fees, such as for the 88th-floor sightseeing floor of Jin Mao Tower, the 100th-floor sightseeing hall of World Financial Center, the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, or 1-hour Huangpu River Cruise. In order to avoid any misunderstanding when you purchase such tour locally, you can take the time to check the options and order the bus tour online.

Alternatively, you can take the Subway line 12 and get off at Tilanqiao Road (提篮桥).  Or, take the Subway Line 4 and get off at Yangshupu Road (杨树浦路). Both lines require five to ten minutes of walking.

 

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.