The Huangpu River (Huangpu Jiang) is the city's shipping artery both to the East China Sea and to the mouth of the Yangzi River, which the Huangpu joins 29km (18 miles) north of downtown Shanghai. It has also become a demarcating line between two Shanghais, east and west, past and future. On its western shore, the colonial landmarks of the Bund serve as a reminder of Shanghai's 19th-century struggle to reclaim a waterfront from the bogs of this river (which originates in nearby Dianshan Hu or Lake Dianshan); on the eastern shore, the steel and glass skyscrapers of the Pudong New Area point to a burgeoning financial empire of the future.
The Huangpu's wharves are the most fascinating in China. The port handles the cargo coming out of the interior from Nanjing, Wuhan, and other Yangzi River ports, including Chongqing, 2,415km (1,500 miles) deep into Sichuan Province. From Shanghai, which produces plenty of industrial and commercial products in its own right, as much as a third of China's trade with the rest of the world is conducted each year. A boat ride on the Huangpu is highly recommended: Not only does it provide unrivalled postcard views of Shanghai past and future, it'll afford you a closer look at this dynamic waterway that makes Shanghai flow.
There are several ways to tour the Huangpu River. If you have time, a 3-hour (60km/37-mile) voyage along the Huangpu to the mouth of the Yangzi River and back allows for the most leisurely and complete appreciation of the river. There are also shorter river cruises (1-2 hr.) that ply the main waterfront area between the two suspension bridges, Yangpu Qiao in the north and Nanpu Qiao in the south, and an even shorter (30-min.) cruise from Pudong.
Several boat companies offer cruises, but the main one is the Shanghai Huangpu River Cruise Company (Shanghai Pujiang Youlan), at Zhongshan Dong Er Lu 219 (tel. or ; www.pjrivercruise.com), located on the southern end of the Bund Promenade; there's another office further north at Zhongshan Dong Er Lu 153. They have a daily full 3-hr afternoon cruise (2-5pm) with the possibility of a full morning cruise during the summer. Prices for this cruise start out at ¥50 ($6.25) and top out at ¥100 ($13), with the best ticket offering the most comfortable seats on the top deck, the best views, and drinks and snacks. As well, there are hour-long cruises (¥25-¥35/$3-$4.50) every day at 9:30am, 10:45am, 1pm, 2:30pm, 3:15pm, 4pm, and 4:30pm. This company also offers a nightly hour-long cruise from the Bund to the Yangpu Bridge (7 and 8:30pm). Prices range from ¥35 to ¥70 ($4.30-$9). Cruise schedules vary depending on the season, and on weekends additional cruises are sometimes added, so check ahead. Tickets can be purchased at the above offices or through your hotel desk.
Cruising the Huangpu
Between the stately colonial edifices along the Bund, the glittering skyscrapers on the eastern shore of Pudong, and the unceasing river traffic, there is plenty to keep your eyes from ever resting. Even on overcast days (the norm in Shanghai), the single greatest piece of eye candy as your boat pulls away is undoubtedly still the granite offices, banks, consulates, and hotels that comprise the Bund. Sadly for purists these days, however, the Peace Hotel with its stunning green pyramid roof and the Customs House with its big clock tower no longer have your undivided attention but have to compete with the towering 21st-century space-age skyscrapers that have sprouted in the background. Up close, though, the grandeur of the Bund is still undeniable.
As the ship heads north, downstream, it passes Huangpu Park across from the Peace Hotel, still considered by many to be the loveliest piece of architecture in Shanghai. Others prefer the architectural perfection of the Jin Mao Tower on the opposite shore; it's certainly hard to take your eyes off the Jin Mao as it tapers majestically upwards. Also on the Pudong shore are the can't-miss Oriental Pearl Tower, the Shanghai International Convention Center with its twin glass globes, and a slew of hotels, offices, and malls of the Lujiazui Financial Area.
Back on the western shore, north of Huangpu Park is Suzhou Creek (Suzhou He), formerly called the Wusong River. Originating in Tai Hu (Lake Tai), the 120km-long (72-mile) river was once much busier than the Huangpu, but silting in the lower reaches eventually diminished water traffic. The creek is spanned by Waibaidu Bridge, which once linked the American concession in the north (today's Hongkou District) and the British concession south of the creek. Eighteen meters (60 ft.) wide, with two 51m-long (171-ft.) spans, this bridge has seen all forms of traffic, from rickshaws to trams to motorcars. Elderly Shanghainese still recall the days of the Japanese occupation when they had to bow to Japanese sentries guarding the bridge and seek special permission to cross.
North of the Suzhou Creek hugging the west shore are the old "go-downs" or warehouses of the many foreign trading firms. This area, known as Hongkou District, and the district to the east, Yangpu District, have been marked for rapid development after Pudong, though new modern towers (all no more than 3 years old) have already started to stake out the skyline. Less than a mile farther on is the International Passenger Terminal, where cruise ships from Japan tie up. The Huangpu River jogs east at this point on its way to the Shanghai shipyards, where cranes and derricks load and unload the daily logjam of freighters from the world's other shipping giants (United States, Japan, Russia, Norway). Eventually, all of this waterfront will be developed into a series of marinas and a combination of industrial and recreational areas.
Before the Huangpu slowly begins to curve northward again, you'll pass the English castle-style Yangshupu Water Plant originally built by the British in 1882. The Yangpu Cable Bridge, like the Nanpu Cable Bridge to the south, is one of the largest such structures in the world. Boasting the longest span in the world, some 602m (1,975 ft.), the Yangpu Bridge is considered the world's first "slant-stretched" bridge. Its total length is about 7.6km (4 3/4 miles), and 50,000 vehicles pass over its six lanes daily.
What overwhelms river passengers even more than the long industrial shoreline is the traffic slinking up and down the waterway from the flotilla of river barges to the large rusting hulls of cargo ships. The Huangpu is, on the average, just 183m (600 ft.) wide, but more than 2,000 oceangoing ships compete with the 20,000 barges, fishing junks, and rowboats that ply the Huangpu every year. As the river curves north, you'll pass the small island, Fuxing Dao, which is to be developed into an ecological and recreational theme park.
The Huangpu eventually empties into the mighty Yangzi River at Wusong Kou, where the water during high tide turns three distinct colors, marking the confluence of the Yangzi (yellow), the Huangpu (gray), and the South China Sea (green). Before this, there's an ancient Wusong Fort, from which the Chinese fought the British in 1842. The passenger terminal (Wusong Passenger Terminal; tel. ) for Yangzi River cruises is also here. This marks the end of Shanghai's little river and the beginning of China's largest one. As your tour boat pivots slowly back into the narrowing passageway of the Huangpu, you can look forward to a return trip that should be more relaxed.
Quick Cruise from Pudong
A brief (30-min.) but dramatic cruise along the Huangpu can be picked up on the Pudong side of the river. The cruise won't get you far, only upriver to the old Shiliupu Wharf and back,15 minutes each way, but the cityscapes on both sides will give you a sweeping perspective of Shanghai old and new.
Tickets for the Pudong cruise can be purchased at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower ticket booth or at a kiosk near the dock (Dongfang Mingzhu Youlan Matou; tel. ) on Fenghe Lu. To reach the dock, walk along the northwest side of the TV Tower grounds on Fenghe Lu, past the Insect Museum and the twin-globed Convention Center, straight on to the right-hand side of the sail-shaped pavilion on the river shore. Departures are at 10am, 11am, noon, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm (more may be added during peak times); tickets are ¥50 to ¥70 ($6.25-$8.75). Night cruises depart at 7, 8, and 9pm from May to October.
The main ticket office of Huangpu River Cruise is opened daily, and the schedule usually includes a full morning cruise (from 9am to 12:30pm) and a full afternoon cruise (from 2 to 5:30pm). Both these full cruises make a complete circuit of the Huangpu to its mouth. The Huangpu River cruise company also offers a night cruise from 7 to 9pm, splendid when the lights are on the Bund and Pudong, but this voyage does not go downriver to the Yangtze. Cruise schedules vary depending on the season, and on weekends additional cruises are sometimes added.
Numerous and diversified, the cruise ships on Huangpu River can satisfy visitors with different needs. As the ships are of unique styles, visitors going on cruises down the Huangpu River can admire the scenes both inside and outside the ships. The following are some of the characteristic ships on Huangpu River. Quanqiu Tong Passenger Capacity: 400 persons Size: 49 meters (161 feet) long; 13 meters (43) wide; three layers Equipment: Bar Counter, Sunny Deck, Banquet Hall, Conference Room, Central Air Conditioning, Television etc. Features: The ship is called 'the Crystal Palace on the River' due to its transparency. This ship contains the most glass in comparison with other luxury ships on Huangpu River. Price: above 50 Yuan/ Person
Capital II Inside of the cruise shipPassenger Capacity: 250 persons Size: 43 meters (141 feet) long; 10 meters (33 feet) wide; three layers Equipment: KTV Compartment, VIP Cabin, Elevating Stage, Sunny Deck, Banquet Hall, Projector etc. Features: The ship is called 'the Bar on the water' owing to its modern style. The ship is unique in that its appearance copies that of the steam yacht in the 19th century. The interior is arranged to resemble a modern-style bar. Price: above 50 Yuan/ Person for 40 minutes cruise Shanghai Fang Passenger Capacity: 150 persons Size: 30 meters (98 feet) long, 8 meters (26 feet) wide Equipment: KTV Compartment, VIP Cabin, Tea House, Sunny Deck etc. Features: The style of the whole ship is Shanghai Shiku Men (Shanghai Characteristic resident architecture style) in every way. The interior is decorated in a style that will transport passengers back to Shanghai of the 1930s. Price: above 50 Yuan/ Person
Capital I Passenger Capacity: 100 persons Size: 43 meters (141 feet) long; 6.8 meters (22 feet) wide; two layers Equipment: VIP Cabin, Ocean Bar, Compartment, Buffet Restaurant, Sunny Deck, Karaoke etc. Features: This ship is considered the most characteristic cruise ship on the Huangpu River. As it is designed according to the mast boat, it is in every way characterized by a northern European style.
First Layer: The VIP Cabin at the front of the first layer has a capacity for 25 passengers and is a perfect place for visitors from which to appreciate the scenery. The hall in the back cabin can accommodate 40 visitors. There are also two cabins, each of which can hold 10 visitors. Second Layer: The second layer features the most distinctive deck of the ship. Price: above 50 Yuan/ Person for 40 minutes cruise Qinhuaihe Passenger Capacity: 80 persons Facility: Sound and Sunny Deck etc. Features: The ship is made in the style of the painted boats in the Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) Dynasties. It is unique due to the ancient style pavilions located at the front and back ends of the ship. In every corner of the ship, passengers can discover examples of the profound Chinese culture. Price: above 50 Yuan/ Person
Note: The schedule may change in different tourist seasons and during the festivals. Please check the detailed information at the local wharf.
Note: 1. Dongdong Line, Taigong Line, and Jinding Line offer 24-hour service. 2. Only pedestrians are allowed on Dongjin Line. 3. Dongnen Line can handle the transport of cars, trucks, or other motor vehicles.
Island Ferry Changxing and Hengsha Islands of Baoshan District as well as Chongming Island can easily be reached by ferryboats. In Baoshan District on the mainland of Shanghai city, there are four main ports handling ferryboats to the ports of the three islands - Hengsha Port, Majiagang Port of Changxing, and three ports of Chongming, namely, Nanmen, Baozhen, and Xinhe. Detailed information on these ports is provided as follows:
Wusong Passenger Transport Center Ferry lines: Chongming (Xinhe), Changxing (Majiagang), Hengsha Add: No.251, Songbao Road, Baoshan District Tel: 021-56575500, 021-56576606 Bus: 51, 116, 522, 719, 728, 848, 849, 952, Baoyang Port Special Line
Wusong Port Ferry lines: Chongming (Nanmen, Baozhen, Xinhe), Changxing (Majiagang), Hengsha Add: No.100, Songpu Road, Baoshan District Tel: 021-56671202, 021-56671205, 021-56673346 Bus: 51, 849, Baoyang Port Special Line, Songjia Line, Songjia Special Line, Songjing Special Line, Songma Line
Shidongkou Port Ferry lines: Chongming (Xinhe, Nanmen) Add: No.1, Shengshi Road, Baoshan District Tel: 021-69616666, 021-69693666 Bus: Pengshi Line, Beishi Line
Baoyang Port Ferry lines: Chongming (Nanmen, Baozhen), Changxing (Majiagang), Hengsha Add: No.18, Baoyang Zhi Road, Baoshan District Tel: 021-69616666, 021-69693666 Bus: 51, 728, Tourist Line 5, Baoyang Port Special Line
Sightseeing Ferry The sightseeing ferryboats of Shanghai provide you with a chance to experience the exciting Huangpu River cruise. The River Sightseeing Line operating from 9:00 to 21:00 sails between Nanpu Bridge and Yangpu Bridge. The Water Bus Line stops at the Bund, East Jinling Road Ferry Station, and Dongjiadu Ferry Station on the west bank of Huangpu River, and Lujiazui, Dongchang Road Ferry Station, and Nanmatou Ferry Station on the east bank of the river. The line includes most of the famous attractions along the Huangpu River. It costs CNY 12 for the whole journey or CNY 2 for each stop.