Time 3 hours
Difficulty Hard, mostly due to the length
Highlights Hongkou's myriad old streets and Chiang Kai-shek’s final mainland bolt hole
Begin at the junction of Fuxing Lu and Zhonghua Lu, just beyond Laoximen metro station (Line 10). Head north, but peel off right from the busy Zhonghua Lu as soon as you can, zigzagging through the hectic market streets of Jinjia Fang, Xima Jie, Fangbang Zhong Lu, Luxiangyuan Lu and Dajing Lu before finally heading north on Jiucang Jie to Renmin Lu. Turn right and continue for a couple of blocks until you see the gate that marks the Lishui Lu entrance to Yu Gardens. Opposite this gate is the start of Sichuan Nan Lu, which is mostly car-free as it takes you north toward Suzhou Creek.
Cross the creek on the Sichuan Lu bridge, flanked by the Postal Museum, and turn right on the other side to take Bei Suzhou Lu east.Continue as this road passes the Waibaidu Bridge, becoming Huangpu Lu and then Qingpu Lu as it takes a right-angled turn just past Hyatt on the Bund. Turn right at Daming Lu and head past the International Cruise Terminal. From here, Dong Daming Lu meets Yangshupu Lu, which you can follow all the way to Dinghai Lu and Fuxing Island. If you have the time (and the energy), however, it’s far more fun to thread your way through the surrounding alleyways.
A few blocks along Dong Daming Lu, just opposite the Gongping Lu ferry pier, a left on Gongping Lu and a right on Tangshan Lu will bring you to the pleasant Xiahai Temple (73 Kunming Lu). From here, follow Kunming Lu to Jingzhou Lu, and turn right past the National Anthem Memorial Square. Turn left when you meet Huimin Lu, before turning right on Tongbei Lu and following the road south to Yangshupu Lu. A little way to the east is the Shanghai Waterworks, a set of 1920s grey and red brick buildings that still house operating pumps and pipes.
From the waterworks, head north up Huaide Lu and turn right onto Longjiang Lu. At the junction with Lanzhou Lu, cross the small bridge to your left and continue along Shenyang Lu as it turns into a lively food street just east of Meizhou Lu. Turn left into the narrow Weinan Lu
, picking your way through the crowds of fish, vegetables and poultry sellers, before taking a right on Pingliang Lu toward Longchang Lu. A small detour to 362 Longchang Lu brings you to the fascinating Longchang Apartments
(pictured left), reportedly the inspiration for scenes in Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle
Return to Pingliang Lu and fork off to the right on Boyang Lu until it turns into Dinghai Lu. This leads you back to Yangshupu Lu, with the outlet stores and cafes of Shanghai Fashion Centre just off to your right. For Fuxing Island, however, continue over the bridge in front.
It’s barely an island (separated as it is from Shanghai’s mainland by a canal-width strip of water) and its mixture of shipyards and garages isn't the most attractive, but it’s home to a small piece of hidden history.
Take Gongping Lu toward the northern end of the small Fuxing Island Park sits an unremarkable white bungalow, with no signs and no clues to tell you that this modest dwelling served as Chiang Kai-shek's final mainland bolt hole before he fled to Taiwan in 1949. That you can’t get in, or even particularly near the building, is a disappointment, but then the drab, dusty island isn't the real reason for doing this cycle route, it’s the journey itself. For a direct route back to the centre of town, follow Yangshupu Lu southwest. Alternatively, a small ferry from Fuxing Island crosses to the end of Jinqiao Lu in Pudong.