Shanghai’s most famous walkway should only be done at night. I learned this the hard way, traipsing along the Huangpu River in the middle of the day, getting sunburned and wondering how I’d found the only stretch of real estate in China that doesn’t sell ice cream bars. On the other hand, if you ever want to escape Chinese mid-day crowds, the Bund is a good place to be.

At night things come alive. I returned after sunset and happily dodged kids flinging light-up slingshots, friends taking peace-sign-flashing photos, and couples strolling hand in hand. (Side note: A lot of Chinese guys carry their girlfriend’s purses. I don’t see this catching on in America.)

To get to the Bund, I would suggest heading there via Nanjing Road. Get to this road on metro line 10 or 2 and exit at East Nanjing Road (or if you want a longer walk, get off at the People’s Square station instead – metro lines 2, 8, or 1) and head east. Nanjing Road has long been the fashion mecca of China. This pedestrian only thoroughfare is the only place in China where you don’t stand the risk of being run over by a motorcycle. By day, Nanjing road is just the place to move from one store to another. In the evening you can see impromptu dance performances, donate money to living statues, or join in on a sing along fest.

At the corner of Nanjing and Zhongshan roads is the famous Peace Hotel, which has housed many a famous celebrity and revolutionary rabble rouser. Back in the day (pre-1956) it was named the Cathay Hotel.

If you cross Zhongshan road and take the staircase, you’ll be on the Bund. The lit-up scene before you features the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. After taking the obligatory photos, head north. The Bund comes to an end where the Huangpu rives curves left into Suzhou Creek. Huangpu Park is squished between the Bund and Zhongshan Road, and provides a pleasant place during the day to walk among lilies and pagodas while counting the number of Chinese men engaged in what appears to be the national pastime – sleeping. The benches are packed with families at night.

Back up on the Bund is the tri-towered Monument to the People’s Heroes. There’s also museum here about the history of the Bund which I did not frequent. I probably should have though, because admission is free. Anyways, from the park you can take a short walk across the Waibaidu Bridge to check out the Broadway Mansions and expensive hotels on the other side of Suzhou Creek.

While it wasn’t my favorite water-side walkway, or my favorite thing to do in Shanghai, strolling the Bund is something you just have to do while in the city. At night when the neon skyscrapers are pulsating and the well dressed crowds are flowing around you, it’s easy to understand why Shanghai is Asia’s Manhattan, the Paris of the East, and the city that just might help China take over the world