The Bund is a must-visit destination in Shanghai, especially if it’s your first time there. Do note that it’s an extremely popular attraction, so do expect to brave the crowds especially during peak hours. Our hotel, the Jin Jiang Metropolo Hotel was a five minute walk from The Bund, situated along the main road which gets you from the Nanjing East Road subway station to The Bund. It very packed and at certain times, traffic police officers restricted the use of pedestrian walkways to one direction only. Now a natural question would be – when is a good time to visit The Bund?
When is a good time to visit The Bund?
Well, the answer is, it really depends on what you wish to see.
If you prefer seeing night lights of a city, The Bund is charmingly lit up at night. The buildings across The Bund, including the Pearl of the Orient looks a tad like a spaceship. The Fairmont Peace hotel is also lighted up, highlighting its architecture and beautiful green roof from years ago.
However, it’s also when The Bund is the busiest. Throngs of locals and tourists alike can be seen taking pictures and selfies of The Bund. You’ve got to wait for a moment before a space along the railings open up, then swop in to take a picture.
One other pro is that if you if you visit at night, you could head to the Shanghai Grandmother restaurant for a good Chinese meal, and the 1886 German Restaurant & Bar, which is a 10 minute walk away. I’ll write more about that in an upcoming post.
During the day
The pros of visiting The Bund during the day are clear – it’s less busy and you get more space to yourself. I visited The Bund during the evening too and it was a much more pleasant visit because we could walk around at a leisurely pace. I’ll admit that the photos are less visually impactful compared to visiting at night, but it was nice too.
Significance of The Bund
The Bund plays a significant role in Shanghai’s history. In the 1940s, it became home to the biggest financial institutions in China, trading houses from several European countries, Britain and America, and the consulates of Britain and Russia. According to Wikipedia, the buildings follow a Beau-Arts style of architecture, drawing upon the principles of French neoclassicism, but also incorporated Gothic and Renaissance elements, and used modern materials, such as iron and glass. The French Concession also known as the French Bund was located nearby, but was considered to be a working harbourside.
Fairmont’s Peace Hotel
Today, the buildings around The Bund house high-end branded shops, bars and restaurants and hotels. Most notably, Fairmont’s Peace hotel, is now housed in a building which was built by Sir Victor Sassoon of the Sassoon family, known for their Shanghai business and real estate empire in the early 20th century. He was a British Sephardic Jew of Iraqi origin, educated at Harrow School and Cambridge University. After a 3-year renovation, the hotel is now managed by Fairmont and offers 270 guestrooms and 39 suites. A standard guest room is about SGD374 / USD275, and the rate increases to about SGD500/ USD369 during the later part of the year.
The Travelling Squid’s Take
If you were to ask me when is a good time to visit The Bund, my personal view is that visiting at night gives it an old world charm. For some reason, the night lights bring out the architecture of the buildings better, casting shadows in the right places, bringing out its best. That’s if you are willing to brave the crowds.