The Huang Pu River crosses through Shanghai dividing the city into its two big parts: Puxi and Pudong. The two sides, particularly the riverfront areas, are sights in themselves. Cruising the river on a tourist boat, while, yes, touristy, is a delightful way to see both sides of the river and get a real lay-of-the-land.
The Huang Pu River is a tributary of the Yangtze and there is plenty of traffic on it to prove its importance.
You'll see the magnificent building skylines on both the historic west side (Puxi), and the modern east side (Pudong) as well as the working area of coal boats filling barges and sending them downriver. It's fun to see such lively river life as well as Shanghai's amazing skyline.
- Where: southern end of the Bund Promenade. Bund is Waitan, "why tahn", in Mandarin.
- Ticket Prices: prices vary but it should be around 40rmb. "Shanghai Scenery" is a good company to use.
- Best Time to Go: warm spring, summer and fall days are the best time to go so you can sit on the outer deck and enjoy.
If it's such a tourist thing, you might wonder why I'm recommending it. The fact is, some "touristy" things are worth doing and I think the Huang Pu River Cruise is one of them:
- Great way to relax a bit and sightsee at the same time.
- Perfect views of the Bund's landmark buildings with an explanation on the way.
- See the modern skyscape of Pudong sprouting quickly on the east of the Huang Pu.
- Watch the busy Huang Pu traffic of pleasure boats and worker barges cruising up and down the river.
- Fun for young kids and family friendly.
Some things to consider:
- You don't always know which boat you're going to get, some are nicer than others.
- Can be very chilly on a cold day - best to go in warm spring/summer/fall months.
Expert Experience - A Review of the Huang Pu River Cruise in Shanghai
Touring the Bund can be hard work - if you really want to see it, you start walking on the west side of the Huang Pu River, the historic Bund, and peek into the buildings, remark on the architecture and have a coffee at one of the stunning restaurants that are housed in these classic buildings. Then, you cross the street and view the Pudong skyline from the Bund promenade. If you're really ambitious, then you'll cross the Huang Pu River using the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel to view the Bund skyline from the east side of the river. Exhausting!
Another way to take in all this scenery is from the deck of one of Shanghai's Huang Pu River sightseeing cruises. It's easy to buy tickets and there's no reservation needed, boats leave throughout the day for the 1-1.5 hour cruise until about 4:30pm. You'll either board directly from the Bund Promenade or be taken by bus to another boarding spot nearby (north of the Bund). The cruise boats have open air decks above and closed decks below and also sell a number of refreshments.
Some cruises, like the one operated by Shanghai Scenery give a tour in English and Mandarin over the loudspeakers, so if you can hear it, you'll know what you're viewing.
In general, tours depart from the Bund, head south so you'll have views of the historic west-side buildings down to the more industrial part of the river, then head north to view Pudong and the bend in the Huang Pu.
Buying Tickets: Find a ticket booth on the Bund Promenade. The promenade is on the opposite side of the street from the Bund historic architecture and serves as a river walk. Ticket offices are on the southern end of this promenade and are labeled in English, for example "Ticket Office, Scenery Sightseeing on Huang Pu River". The vendor will speak a little English but you don't usually have to wait long for the cruise to start.