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Shanghai gets a 45km jogging and sightseeing track along the river

New 45km promenade along Huangpu adds zest to the historic Shanghai Bund

This high adrenalin cityscape unrolls a new waterfront stretch for joggers, tai-chi aficionados and fun lovers. We get a bird's-eye on walks, dancers, tea houses, and Chinese opera.

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SHANGHAI shimmers enticingly over the Huangpu River that neatly separates it in two - the historic Bund, groaning with nostalgic memorabilia and magnificent grey-stone neo-classical buildings, and modern, high-rise Pudong. It is a unique blend of family fun, quaint tea houses and glitzy shopping. To this can be added Asia's premier walking trail, a 45km snaking promenade along the Huangpu waterfront from the Yangpu Bridge to the Xupu Bridge. As a senior city planner puts it, the "mother river has been given back to the residents of Shanghai." It is the clearest expression yet of the city's aspiration to become a top global city within the next two decades as this new artery spawns curated development along its flanks, all the while drawing in tourists, joggers, cyclists, walkers, the selfie-stick crowd, and the world's cognoscenti.

The route winds through some of the city's key history linking places as diverse as the northern outlying Yangpu District where you can make out the brooding outlines of old shipyards, textile mills and fish markets; Hongkou where the river begins its great curve down along the the North Bund girdling the cloud-piercing views of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the 'bottle opener' Shanghai World Financial Center tower and the 632m Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in China; Xuhui, the West Bund art and culture hub; Huangpu District with its echoes of the World Expo; and Pudong New Area linked by pedestrian bridges darting across the waterway.

Shanghai's 45km riverfront includes the historic neo-classical facades of The Bund

The historic neo-classical facade of The Bund is big draw for visitors. Now you can walk, or jog, forever.

 

The development has energised Shanghai anew as restaurants, museums, art galleries, markets and cultural offerings sprout along the track as its passes through wetlands, reed banks, the detritus of industry (now being artistically refashioned) and the colonial magnificence of The Bund. Yangpu is being upgraded with much of its former character intact, the old market making way for new exhibition space. The Hongkou waterfront with its ferries and slow-moving cargo ships affords some of the finest views of Pudong while at The Bund you'll find newlyweds posing as tai-chi masters perform and a storied jazz band at the Peace Hotel strikes up its warbling notes that have kept visitors pirouetting for decades. Farther in, on Nanjing Lu, people waltz and swing.

In the emerging Museum Mile, a real jewel is the West Bund Art Museum

The Hongkou zone too has seen fresh greening and the creation of sports facilities for schoolchildren and the elderly, a treat for both, while Xuhui will host no less than six theatres and a great many cultural areas for unique local experiences. Watch out for the Museum Mile. Among its jewels is the West Bund Art Museum that will spring to life in 2019 with exhibits from the Pompidou Centre. And becalmed in the midst of this frenetic upgrade, Longhua Airport will refashion its runways as cycling tracks that will also strive to be jogger-friendly. And in Huangpu, the 2010 World Expo site (Puxi side) the former Jiangnan Shipyard with its history stretching back over a century will add a new string to its bow - the Gallery of History.

Shanghai heritage - Chinese opera

For a real traditional flavour there's always tea at Tianshan Tea City, or Chinese opera in various styles

 

Also in Huangpu is Yuyuan Garden - dating back to the Ming Dynasty - featuring traditional greens and koi fish ponds as well as characterful traditional pagodas with shingle roofs. This is a nice spoke-out from the waterfront. Later, recharge with the humble tea leaf that has found varied expression here, to attract connoisseurs from around the globe who come to sample the finest. Perhaps the best known of all is Tianshan Tea City, on Zhongshan West Road, where over 150 shops are set out in a multi-level building, selling an unimaginable variety of tea leaves and infusions. This is a tea mecca like no other.

Or retire to the Long Bar – once a popular bolthole for gentleman only at the Shanghai Club – now restored by the Waldorf Astoria on The Bund. After hours, once the snaps have been taken along the thrumming waterfront, savour Peking Opera at the imposing Shanghai Grand Theatre, while for nightlife with feasting and fun, the shikumen alleys of Xintiandi (Huangpu) always beckon. One way or the other, there's miles of fun to be had in Shanghai.

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The Official Shanghai China Website | Smart Travel Asia | Special supplement created by Dancing Wolf Media

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