The Bund in Shanghai, China has been referred to as a museum of international architecture. But while it is indeed among the republic’s most fascinating tourist destinations, its buildings are not merely old relics, but remain in use today as centers for trade and commerce.
Located in the eastern part of the Huangpu District in the city of Shanghai, the Bund centers on the East Zhongstan 1st Road running along the Huangpu River’s western bank. There are several buses that drop off at the 1st East Zhongstan Road, the East Nanjing Road and the Bund Station. If traveling by subway, take either Line 2 or Line 10 bound for the East Nanjing Road Station, which is about a 10-minute walk going to Huangpu River. If traveling by ferry, there are ferryboats available which travel from the Dongchang Road Ferry Dock to the East Jinling Road Ferry Dock and the Bund. There is also the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, which only takes 3 to 5 minutes via speed train to travel between the Bund and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong. The tunnel opens from 8:00 AM to 10:30 PM (10:00 PM in the winter).
What to See There
There are 52 historical buildings within the Bund, built in various styles of architecture such as Art Deco, Baroque, Gothic, Neo-Classical, Renaissance, Romanesque, and others. Among these structures is the Asia Building, which was constructed in 1916 and is considered as the “1st mansion.” With its upper and bottom parts designed in the Baroque style and its middle section in a more Modernist style, the 8-floor Asia Building once served as the offices for Royal Dutch Shell, as well as the Asiatic Petroleum Company, and is presently occupied by the China Pacific Insurance Co. Ltd. Building No. 2 is the East Wind Hotel, formerly known as the Shanghai Club. Constructed in 1861, the 3-storey building was constructed with red bricks, and used to serve as a social club exclusive to British nationals. Bund No.3, formerly the Union Building, was built in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1922, and once housed several insurance companies. The Gothic-style China Merchants Bank Building, also known as the Commercial Bank of China Building, was built in 1897. Originally used by either the Commercial Bank of China or the Imperial Bank of China, it is currently the Shanghai branch of the Taiwanese fashion house Shiatzy Chen. The former Consulate-General of the United Kingdom was built for that purpose in 1873, but the Renaissance Revival-styled building has since been renovated and reopened into the Peninsula Hotel, Shanghai in 2009.
The Bund (a word meaning “an embankment”) was originally a British settlement in the 19th century. Due to a building boom that lasted from the end of that century to the start of the 20th century, the Bund became a leading financial hub in East Asia. The buildings of the Bund would serve as consulates, financial institutions, hotels and clubs, but these establishments were closed down once the Communists took over. The buildings were eventually restored to their former purpose when the economic policy in the People’s Republic of China thawed during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Since the 1990’s, the government of Shanghai has promoted the Bund in an effort to boost tourism. Following major restorations begun in 2008, the Bund reopened to the public on March 28, 2010.
The cost of a ferry ticket to the Bund is CNY 2. The rates for the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel are CNY 40 for single trips and CNY 50 for round trips.