Shanghai/Huangpu

Huangpu (district government) is an administrative district of Shanghai, the traditional center of the city, with People's Square, the Bund, the East Nanjing Road pedestrian mall and many other attractions.

From around 1000 CE until the 1840s, Shanghai was a prosperous but not remarkably important Chinese town, and a walled city. Then China lost the First Opium War and was forced to open up five treaty ports in which the Western powers who had won the war were granted concessions, areas that they administered and where Chinese law did not apply. Shanghai was one of those, and it grew amazingly fast after that, quickly becoming China's most important commercial center.

Downtown Shanghai

The official Huangpu District includes the Old City, the area that was a walled Chinese city before the modern city developed (though the walls are long gone and there are many new buildings); we have a separate article for the Old City. North of the old city is most of what was once the British Concession. The Bund (a Hindi word for riverside embankment), once the center of seaborne trade with many trading firms' offices, is now a scenic boulevard and major tourist attraction. Nanjing Road, running inland from the Bund and once the main street of the British area, is now a very busy and fashionable pedestrians-only shopping street. What was once a horse racing track on the edge of the British area has become People's Park, a popular recreational area with a busy metro station underneath.

In 2011, the district of Luwan was merged into Huangpu for administrative purposes. However, this article covers Huangpu only within its pre-2011 border. Luwan is covered in the French Concession article. The green area on the map shows what this article covers, with both the Old City and Luwan excluded though both are officially part of Huangpu District.

Huangpu was Shanghai's fastest-growing district in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The more recent surge of growth from the "reform and opening up" starting around 1978 to the present, with no sign of slowing down anytime soon is much more broadly based, affecting not only all districts of Shanghai but the whole East China region and indeed most of the country. The fastest growth this time is in newly developing areas such as Pudong (across the river from Huangpu) and the SIP area of Suzhou. However, Huangpu is by no means being left out; several of Shanghai's main metro lines pass through it and it is well supplied with large new buildings and roads.

Get in

Shanghai's first two metro lines were line 1 running north-south and line 2 east-west. They intersect at People's Park station in Huangpu, and line 8 now comes there as well; People's Park may be the busiest subway station on Earth. Line 10 also runs through the district and line 9 runs along its southern edge.

There are good roads into the area, notably Ya'an Elevated Road coming in from the west, a road running north-south along the river front Zhongshan Road coming in from the south, a tunnel that runs under the central part of the Bund, and a bridge going into Hongkou at the north end and a bridge going east to Pudong.

As a general rule, unless you have accommodation which includes parking it is not worth bringing a car into the area. If you have parking, park the vehicle and walk or take the metro for most trips. Driving in China is often difficult, though generally less so in Shanghai than in smaller cities. Also, Huangpu is the most central area in a city of well over 20 million; traffic jams are common and parking is nearly always very difficult.

Neighborhoods

This whole area is full of historic buildings. Some of the oldest are in the old city, which we cover in a separate article. Outside of that, the main areas are the Bund, Nanjing Road East (Nanjing Road West is in nearby Jing'an District) and the area around Peoples's Park. The contrasts in the area are fascinating, with centuries-old buildings in traditional Chinese styles in the Old Town, 19th and early 20th century styles through much of downtown and especially on the Bund, and a number of new skyscrapers as well.

The Bund

The Bund, looking north in 1928
The Bund, looking north in 2013

The Bund (外滩; Wàitān) is Shanghai's stately street of old colonial-era buildings and the first port of call for many visitors. The Bund was the financial center of the Far East until the 1930s. It has been referred to as "a museum of buildings", as many different styles of European buildings can be found here.

The Bund extends along the West bank of the Huangpu River and offers an excellent view of Pudong's skyscrapers on the East side. Photos of that view are very common, perhaps the best-known image of Shanghai. We have one in the Pudong article. Shanghai's Old Town (南市 Nanshi) is located next to the southern part of the Bund. Nanjing Road, a major shopping street, heads west from the Bund's centerpoint at the Peace Hotel.

There are no Metro stations on the Bund. However, East Nanjing Road station on Line 2 is only a 5-10 minute walk west of the Bund and many bus lines including #20 (from Zhongshan Park, following W. Nanjing Road to People's Sq., then Jiujiang Road to the Bund) and #37 will get you here. There is also a ferry terminal at the southern end of the Bund (well-signposted) with one ferry every ten minutes to and from Pudong (Dongcheng Road).

The area around the Bund, while touristy, is not traditionally a shopping area like nearby Nanjing Road. This has changed a bit in the early 2000's with the successive restoration and opening of No.3 and No.18 on the Bund. Each houses top-of-the-line couture houses, spas, expensive bars & restaurants and art spaces. They have become something of a destination in and by themselves, especially with the newly rich jetset. Dress well or expect curt service. See the buy section below for listings of some of these shops.

Nanjing Road East

Nanjing Road (南京路 Nánjīnglù) is the most important commercial street in Shanghai, with hundreds of shops, many with a rich history. In the 1930s it was named one of the World's Seven Great Roads, and it is now making a comeback after decades of Maoist austerity. The road starts at the Bund, goes a long way West, and has upmarket shopping most of the way. It is the world's longest shopping district, around 6 km long, and attracts over a million visitors a day.

Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street at night

The road has two sections, Nanjing Road East (南京东路 Nanjing Donglu) running from the Bund to People's Square, and pedestrians-only for most of that distance which we describe here and Nanjing Road West (南京西路 Nanjing Xilu) from People's Park West through Jing'an District which we describe in the Jing'an article. There are metro stops named Nanjing Road East (lines 2 and 10) and Nanjing Road West (lines 2 and 7), with the People's Park stop (lines 1, 2 and 8) between them. For more detail, see Nanjing Road,

Both parts of Nanjing Road are mostly upmarket, both have many international brands and high-end Chinese products like good silk, but the East part has more of the flavour of historic Shanghai while the West is more brash and modern, catering more to the status-conscious luxury shopper.

The Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street is a car-free section from Henan Zhonglu (one block inland from the Bund) to People's Park. Among other things, it is known for its stationery and book stores. One of the largest is the Shanghai Book City which is all Chinese language. The Foreign Book Store just down the street caters more to Western tastes, but the other foreign language bookstore on Fuzhou Road (parallel to Nanjing Road, a couple of blocks South of it) is more popular with local expatriates.

People's Park

Shanghai Art Museum

People's Square (人民广场 Rénmín Guǎngchǎng) is located in the heart of the city, and is in many ways the center of the city. A racecourse in the colonial era and the place where one million Red Guards gathered in 1966, today's park is a comfortable place to spend an afternoon with many pigeons and lots of fresh air.

Underneath People's Square is a metro station that is one of the largest and busiest in Shanghai, where the most important North-South line, line 1, intersects the main East-West line, line 2. Line 8 comes to this station as well. Next to the station and directly connected to it is a fairly large underground shopping area, good for clothing and souvenirs. See the main Shanghai article for discussion of this area and other places with similar stuff.

Entry into People's Park (人民公园 Rénmín Gōngyuán) on the north half of the square is free, but all attractions listed below are on the edges of the park, not inside.

See

The Bund Centre, with its unique flower crown, is a useful landmark in this part of the city

Do

"sightseeing" tunnel

Buy

In the tourist shops in this area some bargaining is definitely required to get a reasonable price. With the street vendors, it is generally required even to get close to reasonable.

Nanjing Road and the smaller streets off it have extensive shopping and many "husband daycare centers" (see #Drink) where less enthusiastic shoppers can be amused for hours at fairly moderate cost.

There are a few shops along the Bund.

Fuzhou Road, running East-West parallel to Nanjing Road but two short blocks South of it, has a good foreign language bookstore, several other bookstores including one that specialises in art and architecture, and half a dozen shops selling artists' supplies.

There are two antique markets in the area, one with an entrance to your right off Fuzhou Road if you are walking away from the Bund, several blocks along, and another nearby in a basement accessible from one of the side streets between Fuzhou and Nanjing roads. Neither is well-marked (or at least not in English) so you may have to hunt for them, and some prices are outrageous, but they are worth a look. These places are more upmarket than most others in the city; if you want to buy, or just look at, things like jade carvings that might actually be worth a few thousand dollars, this is where they are. For more mundane antique markets, see Shanghai#Antiques.

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

All the major hotels do a large, high-quality, high-priced buffet breakfast which is available to anyone; you need not stay there to enjoy it.

Drink

(There are a Subway, a Mister Donut and a Cold Stone Creamery on the same side street.)

Sleep

Budget

Mid range

The Metropole

Splurge

The Peace Hotel

Stay safe

This is a major tourist area and all sorts of people that prey on tourists are active here, especially around the Bund and Nanjing Road; you need to take precautions against common scams and pickpockets; see those articles for details.

There are also beggars, prostitutes and some rather aggressive sales people working the area. In general, these are best ignored, though you might try bargaining one of the sales people down to a reasonable price.

In the Nangin Road area, never get taken in by the offers made for massage and follow the girls; they will take you to a secluded area where a group of men will threaten you, rob all your cash and take out money on your credit cards.

Connect

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