Shanghai, a city of stark contrasts where old foreign concessions tucked away under leafy trees are surrounded by a jungle of futuristic ritzy skyscrapers and dazzling lights.
Why not join our 3.5 hour, 18 kilometer long Shanghai Night Bike Tour and discover a wide array of aspects of this vibrant city?
We start off at the French concession, an area given to the French after the Opium War up until World War II, when the French Vichy government handed it over to the Japanese. This area once was the most exclusive part of Shanghai. The buildings’ original European architecture has been well preserved over the decades and are in fact protected by the authorities.
The French concession was originally built for the French, but as it expanded it also began to attract foreigners of other nationalities. Many Russian merchants went there after the Russian revolution, and later on Chinese residents started moving, many as a result of the Japanese invasion of Shanghai. The reason being that the Japanese dared not attack foreign concessions. At its peak, the Foreign concession had a population of 850,000, that is almost twice the size of Yanji city in the Autonomous Korean Prefecture of China and the roughly the same size of Hamhung, the second largest city in North Korea.
We will now cycle to the Shanghai's Old Town, called by foreigners based in the foreign concessions back in the days as the Chinese City. Shanghai's Old Town is home to national treasures such as the City God Temple and Yuyuan Gardens. It is a section that was walled off during the Ming Dynasty to protect the city from Japanese pirates. In 1912 the entire wall, but two sections, which still exist, was demolished.
Despite foreign powers having their own concessions in Shanghai after the Treaty of Nanjing, the old town, remained under Chinese control. Foreigners called it the "Chinese City" whereas the Chinese called it the "southern city" and referred to foreign-controlled concessions as the "northern city." Cycle through Shanghai’s past as you explore narrow streets and dark alleyways of the old town.
We then cycle to the Bund, called Waitan 外滩 in Chinese (outer beach); a protected historic district in downtown Shanghai about 1.6 km long in front of the Huangpu River.
Its emblematic buildings; former banks, private clubs of Shanghai's former foreign elite, headquarters of foreign companies and newspapers, remind us that the Bund was Shanghai's most powerful area and East Asia's financial hub for decades from the mid-19th century until just before World War II.
And, from the venue of the Old Glory Days of Shanghai, we glance across the Huangpu River and see, in the midst of its nocturnal splendor, one of the most modern places in China, a futuristic architectural treasure and one of the most iconic places in the entire country that symbolises, as none other, the economic resurgence of the Asian giant; the worldwide known skyscrapers of Lujiazui.
We then cycle from the Bund to towards the heart of the city, the impressive People's Square (人民广场) to end our night bike tour of Shanghai.
Total distance cycled: 18 kilometres
Duration: 3.5 hours