SH101 is an ongoing column on SmartShanghai, in which our writers actually visit tourist destinations in Shanghai we’ve all heard about, ignored, driven by, or thought about going to but never did. Until right now.
Suzhou Creek is no longer the Huangpu’s stinky little brother. It’s been cleared of lichen and dragged of garbage and drowned dogs and is being rebranded as the “Seine of the Orient” -- at least by the doggedly optimistic PR company that’s promoting its new Suzhou Creek cruises.
The 12-year project to clean up the Creek was completed last year and the local government hopes to turn it into one of Shanghai’s tourist attractions. They’ve been planting trees along its banks and there are even plans for a Jackie Chan museum along its route. Zippee!
The cruises run from the Changhua Lu docks in north Jing’an to Danba Lu docks in Putuo District and back again. You can join the cruise at either end. The round-trip takes about an hour and 45 minutes, or you can just do one-way. The Changhua Lu docks are far more accessible to downtown Shanghai, so you’ll probably want to get on there and take a round-trip.
Being contrary souls, we got on at Danba Lu, way out in the industrial wastelands of Putuo. We took these pictures at the weekend, when it was a bit busier, but at 2:30 on a weekday afternoon when we first went, the only others on the cruise were a couple from Hong Kong and a random university student. All the action happens on these little glass-encased boats.
After we cast off, the boat chugged along at a stately pace. We chatted to the captain, sat back and watched the world drift by. There was a commentary along the way about the history of the Creek, but it was only in Chinese. There’s not a great deal to look at, but on a sunny afternoon it was a pretty mellow way to kill a couple of hours and see the backside of Shanghai.
There are plans to extend the cruise all the way out to Waibaidu Bridge, at the top of the Bund, but that section isn’t open yet. For now you’ll just get the north west of the city. Mostly it's housing estates but there's the odd little reminder of things past.
So... Worth going? Hell, yeah. Suzhou Creek doesn’t have the most beautiful scenery in all of Shanghai, and the water is still far from sparkling clean – it would probably cause mutations if you dangled your hand over the side - but it’s come a long way from the wretched tongue of toxic sludge it once was. Plus, it’s much less touristy than the Huangpu River cruises, and trips run until 8:30pm. In the evenings, they blast up all the fancy lights along the bank, so you can cuddle up to your sweets, bathed in the reflection of neon on water.
If and when they extend it all the way out to the Bund, it will be much more convenient and could form part of a lazy, touristy day with some out-of-towners. The Shanghai municipal government will continue to develop the area (again, Jackie Chan Museum!), so we'll revisit the cruise next year to see if all the planned changes have come to pass.
DetailsThe Danba Lu dock is close to Changfeng Park in Putuo on 2690 Guangfu Xi Lu, 光复西路2690号. Bus 44 and 766 both end their westward journey at the docks, but it’s probably just easier to take a cab. It’s about 50rmb from downtown.
The Changhua Lu docks are at Yichang Lu 宜昌路1250号. Bus 76 and 105 both end at the Changhua Lu docks but, again, it’s easier just to cab it. Cruises, both ways, start at 1:30pm and the last boat leaves at 8:15pm. Full schedule is over here on their website (in Chinese).
Click those links for the docks above for maps of how to get to the terminals.
One-way tickets are 80rmb leaving from Changhua Lu and 100rmb leaving from Danba Lu dock. The round-trip is 130rmb leaving from Changhua Lu or 150rmb leaving from Danba Lu. You can also charter the boats for private tours for around 3000rmb. You know, for the boss who isn’t quite cool enough to take their company go-karting.