Shanghai is divided in half by the Huangpu River, a beautiful river cutting in from the ocean, giving Shanghai its prestige as the world’s largest port. The land to the west is the aptly named Pu Xi, meaning West of the River. Pu=river, Xi=West, and the attentive reader will note that the name of the river itself contains the word ‘pu’ at the end, Huang meaning yellow, the yellow river. To the east you’ll find Pudong. Pu=River, Dong=East. Thus, the naming of the two areas in Shanghai are extremely logical and easy to remember. The western bank represents the old town, and the concession-area of old Shanghai. The east is the modern part of town, with sky scrapers, big businesses and China’s financial center.
The Puxi Bund is the boardwalk that cuts from south to north along the river right smack dab in the center of Shanghai. Here you can visit the Bund Museum, or else simply stroll along the legendary boardwalk soaking in the smells and sounds of the river and the busy city swooshing past on both sides.
The Pudong Bund is a new and fresh way to stand on a modern shore and look West at Shanghai’s Old Town, its concession-era buildings along the Puxi Bund, and the city’s past, metaphorically speaking. You’ll notice a row of western-looking buildings right along the shore that have survived from pre-WWII era Shanghai, when foreign countries had concession (plots of land governed as their own) in Shanghai. This system was abolished after the war entirely, though some influence remain.
You can enjoy both views of the city from a Huangpu River Cruise boat, where you’ll be whisked up and down the river so you can see the inlets, the rounded bill of Pudong, and the beautifully curved Bund along Puxi. The river cruises vary in cost and whats on offer. Some have dinner and music while others simply ferry you nonchalantly up and down the river.