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Also known as Wai Tan, the Bund is where it’s at as far as Shanghai is concerned. This mile-long stretch of European-style architecture, that hugs the western bank of the Huangpu River, is much of a living museum, showcasing the city’s rich colonial influences. Sat opposite Pudong’s modern edifices – a skyscraper skyline so shiny and new – this is the waterfront that you’ll be oh, so familiar with if you’ve ever google-image’d Shanghai. The Bund is iconic.
Not one to be boring, all of this promenade’s 52 buildings vary in architectural style. Think the gothic glamour of Paris, the intricate baroque style of Rome and the neoclassical grandeur of Washington, D.C. – yep, it’s fancy. But it doesn’t just look pretty, the Bund also houses a whole lot of history and makes up the tourist centre of this giant of a city.
Once a muddy riverbank, the Bund became the first settlement of British colonists in the mid to late 19th century. Within 100 years, the area was completely transformed. A bustling hub of banks and trading houses from all over the world, the Bund even became dubbed the “Oriental Wall Street”. By the end of the 20th century this waterfront was a marker to the rest of the world of Shanghai’s thriving commercial capabilities.
In an otherwise modern city, the Bund makes for a pretty historical wander, but it’s also a great excuse for a Huangpu River cruise. What better way to soak up the sights than by journeying along the river that the Bund lines? By day, it may be charming but it’s at night that the waterfront really comes to life. With all buildings individually lit up, the views really are spectacular. The city’s contrasts never looked so good.
When you’ve ticked off all of its key buildings, from Broadway Mansions to the Meteorological Signal Tower – via the Waibaidu Bridge – the next best thing to do is to indulge in the waterfront's food and drink offerings. And by that we mean super stylish bars and restaurants, obvs. For a real exclusive treat, sip on an artisan cocktail on the rooftop terrace of M on the Bund, the perfect spot for relishing the city’s iconic skyline.
If you’re more of an early bird than a night owl, you’ll get to the Bund in time to catch locals going about their daily business, which at this hour usually means a spot of morning exercising. From classic tai chi to joggers stretching their legs, if ever there was a scene to tempt you into loosening up those limbs, it’s this one.
A stop in Shanghai is crucial to understanding China and a trip to the Bund is crucial to understanding Shanghai, which is exactly why we’ve incorporated a walking tour here into our Iconic Highlights and Yangtze Discovery base itineraries. Head over to our itinerary builder now to start putting together your perfect trip.
The west bank of Shanghai’s Huangpu River.
All day, every day - plus, it has its draws day and night.
You’re bound to want to take pictures, so make sure that you’re dressed for the occasion.
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