After disembarking Holland America Westerdam in Shanghai, we stayed in a hotel near the Bund for a few days to have some time to see the city. The word bund means an embankment or an embanked quay. That definition fits this raised walkway along the western bank of Shanghai’s Huangpu River next to the part of Zhongshan Road running through the former Shanghai International Settlement.
On the Bund side of the river there are western-style historical buildings along the street below the raised bund area, which light up in white lights at night. Little waterfalls cascaded down the edge of the Bund into the river, lit with lights in ever-changing colors. This could not be seen from the Bund above, but can be seen from the river boats or from the other side of the river.
Across the river the more modern Pudong district has lots of skyscrapers, including Shanghai’s tallest buildings and the Oriental Pearl Tower, whose unique design is a landmark of the area. Buildings on that side of the river light up in all sorts of colors and patterns, some of which change frequently throughout the evening including the lights on the Oriental Pearl Tower.
We went up the Shanghai Tower, which is the tallest building in China and the second tallest finished building in the world. It will soon be third when the Merdeka 118 in Malaysia is completed. That one is taller than the Shanghai Tower, but not as tall as Dubai’s Burj Kalifa. Besides all the various sorts of boats passing by in the river below, a row of them lined the dock on the other side of the river. In the daytime the river mainly belongs to working boats hauling cargo.
We went up the tower late enough in the afternoon to stick around long enough to wait for night views. From there you can see a lot of the city, including Pudong and the Bund at the same time. Of course you also get a great view of the river.
Once it got dark that fleet of boats at the dock lit up like Christmas trees and began to sail. Watching these boats from the tower, we thought it would be fun to take a ride on one. Tours begin at Shiliupu Pier just south of the Bund area, or the Pearl of the Orient Cruise Ship Terminal in Pudong.
In the evening after dark the river comes alive with these brightly lit boats taking people out for nightime river cruises. Mostly they’re just sightseeing cruises to look at the light shows on the buildings at the Bund and in Pudong, but dinner cruises are an option too. We took the standard evening cruise, which lasted about 50 minutes. The ships sail through the Bund and Pudong before turning around to go back the other way and returning to the dock.
Tickets are available right along the bund in ticket shops along the road next to the bund in buildings under the bund’s raised walkway. You can buy tickets there for a specific sailing or book ahead of time online. We bought ours same day for a sailing that evening.
When the time came we had to find the right place along the bund for entrance to the pier, which was not in the same place as the shop where we bought the tickets. Our hotel was near the Bund so we just walked there, but there are cruises available online that include transportation from some of Shanghai’s hotels. There was quite a line of people for our sailing, but we got there early enough to be fairly close to the front of the line. Where we bought the ticket you didn’t get to choose which boat you went on, it was just whatever one happened to be boarding for that sailing. Most of the ones that left from that dock looked somewhat similar, at least the ones that were there at the time.
We saw one both from the tower and on the river that looked like a big purple pirate ship, but never saw what dock that one came and went from. Different boats had different colors of lights. Other boats would come down the river from somewhere else passing by those just cruising the local area. Some of those had some quite fancy decorations.
While we were out on the water a slightly larger than average boat went by decorated with dragons.
Our cruise went along the river with great views of both the Bund and Pudong sides. It went a bit farther up the river where there were some other lighted buildings we didn’t really see from the main Bund area before it turned around near a bridge and headed back toward the dock. People could sit inside the boat and look out the windows or go up on deck outside. It was a warm enough evening that most people went outside on the deck where views and photos are better than through windows in the boat, though sometimes it did get a bit crowded where finding clear unblocked space to take a photo could be a challenge.
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