At 97 kilometers, the Huangpu River is the longest river that passes through the city of Shanghai. The River divides Shanghai into two sections: Pudong in the east, and Puxi in the West. The Huangpu River averages a width of some 500 meters as it snakes its way through Shanghai, with an average depth of 11 meters. It is also the source of most of Shanghai's drinking water, after it goes through a purification process, of course. Almost equally important today, the Huangpu is the site of a bustling tourist business in the form of river cruises, which originate at Shiliupu Pier just south of the Bund area (there is a corresponding set of cruises up the Yangtze River that begin near the mouth of the Huangpu, where it empties into the Yangtze), where the Huangpu flows alongside the now restored architecture of Shanghai's former British colonial heartland.
There are several tour lengths that one can sign up for, from a short, 30-minute cruise to a long, 3½ hour cruise. The 30-minute cruise passes the Bund, then proceeds on northward to the area designated as the New Bund, and on to Binjiang Avenue of Pudong, a newly developed economic district, where the cruise boat reverses itself and proceeds back to its point of origin at Shiliupu Pier, south of the Bund. All of the Huangpu River Cruises are of course round trips. The 1-hr excursion proceeds beyond Pudong as far as Yangpu Bridge, while the 2-hr excursion ends at Nanpu Bridge farther north, both very graceful suspension bridges (a bridge reveals its beauty more readily when viewed from the side, which is the view provided by a Huangpu River Cruise). The longest excursion lasts 3½ hours, and ends at Wusongkou Harbour, not far from the mouth of the Huangpu, which empties into the great estuary where the Yangtze meets the East China Sea.
Besides offering a privileged view of the bridges that span the Huangpu, the cruise boats also offer an excellent view of the famous colonial-era buildings that make up the Bund, buildings such as the Peace Hotel with its unique pyramid roof in blazing green and the Customs House with its large clock tower, and though not to everyone's taste, behind the original Bund area now shoot up tall skyscrapers. Those who defend the modern skyscraper background would claim that though the new buildings dwarf the colonial buildings of the "old" Bund, they do not compete with them - or even mar the view - but rather, they almost seem to highlight the older-period buildings as gentle, rounded "foothills" to the soaring, "jagged peaks" of the skyscraper background.
A Huangpu River Cruise is "history revisited" in the sense that it affords many glimpses of Shanghai's past during the period, the beginning of the 20th century through WWII.
On the return trip to Shiliupu Pier, as you pass the Shanghai International Cruise Ship Terminal near Pudong, you might wish to contemplate on the fact that the cruise liners of many of China's former foes - including those of Japan (and quite possibly those of your own country) - regularly lay up here, and that without their contribution to Shanghai's economy, the city would probably not be the oriental pearl that it is today.
1. Take umbrella or raincoat during rainy days.
2. Raining days will be a little foggy so some of the scenery on the Bund may be obscure.