Cruise Along The Bund: A Night Tour In Shanghai

Shanghai is beautiful during the day, but the modern city truly comes alive at night.

shanghai china
PHOTO AMANDA PURCELL

Shanghai has gone through extensive development over the past century and the Bund, a walkway lining the west bank of the Huangpu River, has become a hallmark of development and growth in China. After evenings, the buildings across the river light up with vibrant neon colors transforming Shanghai into a city of lights. I was lucky enough to go on a boat tour during my last night in Shanghai. Despite that I went on a short cruise during winter time, I remember the exciting views more than the chilly night.

I was on the foreigner sightseeing boat which was incredibly interesting. At first, I thought this tour would be filled with Americans, but foreigners constituted groups from Europe and South Korea instead. We could choose to sit at tables inside the boat which looked out over the east or west bank or we could brave the cold and stand outside on the top portion of the boat. I grabbed some complimentary tea from below and headed upstairs to retrieve a true view of Shanghai.

shanghai china
PHOTO AMANDA PURCELL

Since it was winter, the boat was not at full capacity, but many, like myself, stood outside as we passed by historical and beautiful buildings. There were camera flashes going off everywhere on the boat – some towards the buildings and some towards the people on the cruise. Foreigners from all different places around the world were conversing and trying to get pictures of each other to take back to their respective homes. Before I went to China, never in my life had someone tried to take my picture because of my ethnicity. As an American and caucasian, the opportunity has never presented itself.  However, foreigners from different areas in Asia wanted to take pictures of us or other members in our group with them. None of us objected to having our pictures taken as souvenirs and it was fun talking to people who were practicing their English.

shanghai china
PHOTO AMANDA PURCELL

Although I was in Shanghai, I didn’t expect to be mixing so extensively with cultures from Europe or South Korea. On the boat, everyone was having a great time laughing and reflecting on the spectacular monuments in Shanghai. From the river, I could distinguish between the very different east and west banks. The west bank is rife with skyscrapers and colorful lights. On the side of tall buildings, images were flashing about every minute or so. At one point, the image even transformed to say “I heart SH.”  The east bank, however, is marked by western-style architecture such as the Peace Hotel and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Both of these banks are truly different in character and style.

shanghai china
PHOTO AMANDA PURCELL

The bund stands to symbolize the diversity within Shanghai. I realized this most clearly when I was on the boat cruise. Individuals literally from all of the world were coming together to enjoy what Shanghai offered.  It did not seem to matter if one was an hour plane ride away from this city or a fourteen hour plane ride away. Either way, while I stood against the rail watching people from Germany and South Korea take pictures in front of the effervescent sights, I learned that traveling does not have to always be a culture shock: it can just simply be enchanting.

Amanda Purcell

Amanda has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her secret travel tip: visit places during off season. She loves walking around cities that she's never been to before, especially if she can't speak the local language.

Jetset Times in your inbox

Sign-up for our newsletter

By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy and European users agree to the data transfer policy.