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The Bund

【Location】 Huangpu River, Huangpu district, Shanghai City
【Type】 Business Center
【Completion date】1906 - 1937
【Recommended Time to stay】 2 hours
【Opening Hours】24 hours

Of all the sights evocative of the splendor and decadence of old Shanghai, none is singularly more impressive the Bund. Getting its name from an Anglo-Indian word meaning" muddy embankment," the Bund rolls down a million dollar mile along the west bank of Shanghai's most essential waterway, the Huangpu River. It's on this swampy riverbank where Shanghai's previous taipans erected these monuments of wealth. The Bund still remains Shanghai's number one tourist site and with all the things to see in Shanghai, this is the one that can not be missed. Running the length of the Bund is Zhongshan East Road, a major thoroughfare than can be crossed by tunnels or pedestrian bridges.

During the 1920's and 30's, the Bund served as the focal point for thriving city's financial and social life. The great edifices built here held great symbolic importance. When junks and cargo ships reached Shanghai, this promenade along Shanghai's waterfront was the first sight they would see. If any boubted the economic prowess Shanghai enjoyed during those times, the buildings along the Bund quickly disposed of any notions that the city was a pretender. From their windows overlooking the teeming Huangpu, Shanghai's wealthy could watch with baited breath as their cargoes of opium, gold and silver bullion, tea and spices were loaded on and off their ships.

Built of marble and stone, the Bund is emblematic of foreign interest and business anchored in Shanghai's staying power. They also served to assure Shanghai's foreign residents and visitors as to who was in control. By night, away from the brothels and opium dens lining the Bund's anxiliary streets, Shanghai's richest met in the British and French Clubs to quaff whiskey sours while Shanghai's endless night burnt to its wick.

Although things are different now, the buildings of the Bund retain much of their previous grandeur. To prevent flooding from the Huangpu and Suzhou Creek, the promenade was raised from a simple street to an elevated, cement walkway. As one of the Shanghai's few free tourist attractions, it's regularly thronged with both domestic and international tourists. Hawkers sell glow sticks and light-up toys by night while photographers offer to capture your magic moment backlit by either Pudong's futuristic skyline or the Bund's colonial massif. The best place to view the Bund is from the walkway along the river's edge; from here you can take in the view of the old masterpieces and the new wonders across the river.

Today's Bund is as evocative of Shanghai's yesterdayears with hints of the city's tomorrow. The once teeming wharves have been moved further downstream, though the Bund is still a great place to view the Huangpu River's ship traffic. When the foreigners left, control of the buildings was assumed by the state though very few continued to perform their original functions. The Peace Hotel, the AIA Building and the Shanghai Customs House, though on longer holding the eminent prestige of the past, have persisted throughout the march of time. M on the Bund, one of the city's classiest restaurants serves martinis and haute cuisine while provideing stunning views of the Huangpu and Pudong.

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