Shanghai Walks: Behind The Bund

Head off Shanghai's tourist path with our guided walk

Walking time: 2 hours
Starting point: Yu Garden metro station, Line 10

1. Shanghai’s first Muslim school

Leave Yu Garden metro station by Exit 3, and cross the car-crushed Henan Lu to reach Fuyou Lu, an east-west road with the Renaissance Hotel on the corner. Head east along Fuyou Lu, passing the tacky goods market on the north side of the street. You’ll soon reach Fuyou Mosque on the south side, at number 378. Still bearing Qing Dynasty hallmarks, there’s reportedly been a mosque here since 1870, when it was known as North Mosque. It became an important centre for Muslim Shanghai, housing both a business school and the Wu Ben Primary School – Shanghai’s first Muslim school – in its time. It is still a fully functioning mosque today, where you can buy halal meat inside. On Fridays, you may even catch vendors selling affordable sesame-scattered bread outside.

Question: What colour is the Mosque’s entrance?

2. Gucheng Park

Continue east along Fuyou Lu, past the fake pagodas and souvenir stalls surrounding the nearby Yu Gardens. These fall away when Fuyou Lu hits Anren Street, with the cast iron gates of Gucheng Park (open 5am-8pm daily) framed by the Lujiazui skyline up ahead. Enter the park and take the main path that leads northeast through the park (follow the signposts for Wai Tan), which, despite its proximity to one of the city’s most hellish tourist traps, is a peaceful spot, with goldfish-filled ponds (unfortunately drained on an April 2016 visit), magnolia trees and a mini bamboo forest. Shortly before the drawbridge leading out of the park on the east side you’ll find a signpost.

Question: According to the signpost, what (in addition to Yuyuan) is back the way you’ve just come?

3. Imposing facade

Turn left on Renmin Lu, heading north-west. Cross the street when you see a car park sign overhead for Xing Yu hotel. Turn north onto Yongan Lu, a small street lined with shops selling buttons, zips, ribbon and lace. Continue north until you hit Jingling Dong Lu, where you turn left – briefly heading west – before taking the first right onto Sichuan Nan Lu, with a branch of Croissants de France on the corner. Head north until you reach Yanan Dong Lu, where the old raised road used to swoop down to The Bund, and take in the imposing curved facade of the Sichuan Building (originally called the Wheelock & Co Building, completed in 1943) on the north-west corner of the intersection.

Question: In the Sichuan Building’s entrance is a ‘Heritage Architecture’ plaque. What nationality was the building’s architect Hans Berents?

4. Stained-glass gem

""Continue north up Sichuan Lu. Next door to the Sichuan Building at number 33 is a stunning chocolate-brick Art Deco structure completed in 1931. This is the China Industrial Bank Building, designed by American architect Elliott Hazzard, who was interned by the Japanese during World War II and died in captivity. Push north past the Waldorf Astoria Hotel until you reach Guangdong Lu and a ‘Heritage Architecture’ triple-whammy including the 1920 Mitsubishi Building on the northwest corner and the LAN Club on the north-east. The highlight of this intersection is the China Minsheng Bank headquarters on the south-west corner. Designed by Atkinson & Dallas in 1910, the marble lobby and stunning stained glass windows retain the building’s original grandeur – surely one of the classiest buildings in the city.

Question: On the north-west corner of the crossroads, which animal is found outside the hospital entrance?

5. JG Ballard’s church

Back on Sichuan Zhong Lu, continue north before heading west down Hankou Lu, passing one of László Hudec’s designs on the northwest corner. The Joint Savings and Loan Building, built in 1926, looks regal. Peek inside and you can see some of their stunning chandeliers. One block west you hit Jiangxi Zhong Lu. On the south-west side of the intersection is the colonial-style former Municipal Council Building, which once housed Chen Yi, the first mayor of Shanghai under the new People’s Republic. Continue north on Jiangxi Lu, with the pretty redbrick Holy Trinity Cathedral on your left. Completed in 1869, the church is one of the oldest Western-style buildings in Shanghai and makes an appearance in JG Ballard’s novel, Empire of the Sun. Enter the church square beside Jiangxi Lu – in the middle is an ancient tree propped up with three wooden poles.

Question: What is the Latin name of the tree (two words)?

6. Art Deco-rated

Continue north up Jiangxi Zhong Lu until you reach Tianjin Lu. Here the China Everbright Bank’s concrete Art Deco tower, built in 1933, looms over the intersection. One block north at number 239 Beijing Dong Lu (the south-west side intersection) is one of the most stunning buildings in the city, with a white Art Deco exterior complemented by a stunning entranceway – you’ll see Deco-style iron gates, heavy copper-coloured doors and lashings of marble. Continue up Jiangxi Zhong Lu and you hit a quiet stretch of traditional Chinese lane life – street food and drying laundry abound, as do youth hostels. Where Jiangxi Lu hits Nan Suzhou Lu, duck east where you’ll find a collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century buildings. On your left, beside the creek is the former Shanghai Rowing Club.

Question: What leisure facility, still partially viewable through a glass floor beside the building, was originally housed in the Club’s west wing?

Getting home
Cross the creek via Sichuan Lu bridge, passing the baroque Shanghai Postal Museum, which was built in the mid-1920s and has a secret rooftop garden (open 9am-4pm Wed-Thur, Sat-Sun) until you reach the intersection with Tiantong Lu. Heading west along Tiantong Lu will bring you to Line 10’s Tiantong Lu metro station at Henan Bei Lu.