New wharf added to stops on Suzhou Creek cruise tours
Shanghai's fashionable Suzhou Creek cruise tour has a new stop on offer as the Zhongshan Park Wharf in Changning District went into operation on Monday.
The new itinerary combines a walk on the riverside path along Suzhou Creek and a sightseeing cruise.
It brought the total number of wharfs servicing the Suzhou Creek cruise tour to five. The others are Changfeng Park, Changhua Road, Waitanyuan (the origin of the Bund) and Sihang Warehouse.
The route will eventually connect eight wharfs: Waitanyuan, Sihang Warehouse, Changhua Road, Xikang Road, Mengqing Garden, Zhongshan Park, Changfeng Park and Danba Road.
Shanghai residents and visitors have been able to enjoy the enchanting scenery of Suzhou Creek not only from its banks, but also from its waters, since December 15 last year, and the cruise quickly became a popular tourism option for both local residents and tourists.
The changes in the city are concentrated alongside the meandering of the river, which nurtures the people of Shanghai and is a silent witness to its development.
With the new pier starting operation during the May Day holiday, a new sailing route was launched at the same time by Shanghai Jiushi (Group) Co Ltd, operator of the cruise tour.
The cruise departs from the pier and passes by Huazheng Bridge, the East China University of Political Science and Law, and Ruihua Villa, turning around after arriving at Caoyang Road Bridge. The complete cruise lasts about 30 minutes.
The cruise enables passengers to extend their journey along a city walk that explores the Changning campus of the East China University of Political Science and Law, which features Shanghai's second-largest group of historic buildings, after the Bund.
Twenty-seven buildings of the prestigious St John's University that date back some 140 years have been listed as both national and city-protected structures.
The historical buildings sit on a bay in the creek where the waterway makes a sharp turn. The 910-meter-long riverside area by the university is thus crowned the "Pearl of Suzhou Creek," due to its beautiful landscapes and unique historical ambiance.
A continuous path opened in 2019 after the university sectioned off part of its campus along the creek as a public space.
In 2021, the East China University of Political Science and Law was the first university in the city to welcome local residents to its campus to enjoy the beautiful environment and take a close look at its historical buildings, including Yen Hall.
These over-century-old East-meets-West buildings bear silent witness to the development of modern higher education in China, reflecting a mingle of "red, haipai (Shanghai-style) and Jiangnan (regions in the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River) cultures."
By following the culture-themed walking route, pedestrians are able to get close to these buildings, and learn the stories behind them.
"Most buildings remain the same, while the campus is even more beautiful," said Bi Zhaonian, 95, a former graduate of the university and professor of Tsinghua University, who reminisced as he walked through the campus.
The new itinerary has other optional extras such as an afternoon tea set at a university cafe, and cultural and creative products based on the Suzhou Creek cruise tour.
The "floating parlor on water" also has other travel options sailing between the other four piers and a number of relevant city walk tours have already been launched.
The creek, known as the mother river of the city, bears the memories of generations.
It is a journey into the city's past, present and future, enabling people to savor the unique splendor of haipai culture.
It also opens a window for tourists to savor the history and cultural essence of the city.
The routes string together a mixture of old and new, famous and niche cultural and tourist pearls, and historical remains of the city in the Huangpu, Jing'an, Changning, Putuo and Hongkou districts.
These include historic buildings, blocks, industrial remains and public cultural spaces.
The Sihang Warehouse Battle Memorial, Zhapu Road Bridge, Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai Customs House, Fuxin Flour Mill, General Post Office Building, Tian An 1000 Trees, M50 art hub, Shanghai Mint Museum and Xinhe Textile Plant are just some of the attractions along the routes.
How to buy tickets
Tickets can be purchased via the WeChat account and mini program of "Suzhou Creek Tourism" (悠游苏州河) 48 hours prior to the trip.
Suzhou Creek holds a special place in the hearts of Shanghai residents. The region's silks and ceramics were carried along the Maritime Silk Road during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), and centuries later the area became an early industrial hub of the city.
Since Shanghai was forced to open its port in 1843, the creek has been the backdrop for dramatic landmarks in the city's history. It was the scene of wartime suffering and the birthplace of China's earliest national industries.
Its industrial heritage left the creek's waters murky in the 1980s. Cleaning up the pollution and redeveloping its banks are projects that have been underway for years. Riverside areas spanning 42 kilometers along the creek have now become the "backyard garden" of local citizens.
Locals said they had a deep bond with the creek and had witnessed its significant changes over the past decades.
"I have been waiting for this day for a long time," said a retiree surnamed Gong who enjoyed a cruise on the creek.
"The ship sails stably, and the journey is comfortable," Gong said. "I enjoyed a cheerful mood and I was attracted by the beautiful scenery."
Gong has lived near the Zhongshan Park Wharf for 40 years.
"In the past, the water of the creek was black with an odorous smell, and we could not open the windows as the smell blew over," Gong said. "The place where the pier is located was once not accessible as it was filled with sludge."
"Boats carrying garbage sailed on the river, which have been replaced by tourism ships now," she added. "The river course is clean with a fresh smell."
"I take a stroll on the path everyday when the weather permits," Gong said.
"The creek is crystal clean now and the ecological environment has taken on a brand new look," said Chen Beizhi, another resident who lives nearby.
"It comes as a delightful surprise that there is a tourist attraction just at my doorway," Chen said.
"I am so happy about the change of the environment and it is lucky for those living near Suzhou Creek."