Shanghai Stories and Tips

Pu Dong: Skyscrapers and the psychedelic Bund Tourist Tunnel

The view across the Huangpu back to the Bund Photo, Shanghai, China

One of the best things to do in Shanghai is come to the Bund promenade at night and watch the skyline of Pu Dong across the river.

This is the eastern bank of the Huangpu river. Twenty years ago it was just misty marshes but nowadays is a proud example of the new China with colossal skyscrapers and cutting-edge architecture. The king of them all is the Pearl Oriental TV Tower. A number of globes dot its base but its ramrod straight stem soars 1500ft into the air. The final globe is just under its sword-like point and red strobes run down its sides.It is very striking at night as it seems to flash with red movement. A few hundred metres away is the Aurora skyscraper, a skyscraper so huge that half its 1000ft height is taken up by a plasma screen easily visible hundreds of metres across the river from the Bund boardwalk. The plasma screen is alive and moving. It showed film adverts, 'WELCOME TO SHANGHAI' imagery and even wildlife films on its gigantic screen.

While spectacular at night Pu Dong is worth a trip over in the daytime. There are no boats or bridges to take you over from 'The Bund'. Instead there is the Bund Tourist Tunnel without doubt the funniest bit of Chinese kitsch I have ever encountered and a talking point for anyone who has visited Shanghai anywhere in the world. Its just north of the enormous statue of Marshall Chen Yi and surrounded by cafes, shops and restaurants. I've seen tourist tunnels in other cities and these whisk you from A to B quickly and spartanly. Forget that in Shanghai - a hallucigenic drug trip would be the best way to describe it.

For 40 yuan you wait on an underground platform for glass capsules with seats to arrive. Once seated, these globes slowly glide under the Huangpu river in a subway tunnel of strobe lighting, SFX and rather disturbing images on cinema screens. Patterns whirl and spin, lasers light up the darkness and all this accompanied by a trippy LSD inspired commentary with a voice so incredibly deep and husky you feel yourself disorientated. The thought entered my mind that this was probably how they brainwashed people in the Korean War. After five minutes, you emerge on the Pu Dong side of the Huangpu either seriously confused or doubled up with laughter.

On this side of the river is a marble riverwalk with good views of the Bund. You can stand immediately under the tripod legs of the Pearl TV tower which looks like something from "War of the Worlds". You can pay to take the elevator up to the first globe but the view across the river is just as good from the riverwalk. From there, the whole 'Bund' is in front of you - rows upon rows of late Edwardian buildings that once housed the offices of the great European trading empires.

This is also a place where domestic Chinese tourists approach you to practice their English. The "new China" is interested in you. If you have ever wanted to be a tourist attraction yourself then this is a good place to come

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