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The Bund

traveltips-37The Bund (means the Embankment) refers to Shanghai’s famous waterfront running along the west shore of the Huangpu River, forming the eastern boundary of old downtown Shanghai. Once a muddy towpath for boats along the river, the Bund was where the foreign powers that entered Shanghai after the Opium War of 1842 erected their distinct Western-style banks and trading houses. From here Shanghai grew into a cosmopolitan and thriving commercial and financial center, Asia’s leading city in the 1920s and 1930s. Many of the awesome colonial structures you see today date from that prosperous time and have become an indelible part of Shanghai’s cityscape. Today, a wide avenue fronts the old buildings while a raised promenade on the east side of the road affords visitors pleasant strolls along the river and marvelous views of both the Bund and Pudong across the river. Pudong’s new skyscrapers and modern towers — constituting Shanghai’s “21st Century Bund” — may dominate today’s skyline, but the city’s core identity and history are strictly rooted in this unique strip on the western shore. For years, the Bund was the first sight of Shanghai for those arriving by boat; it should be your first stop as well.