Hóngkǒu envelops north Shànghǎi from Sūzhōu Creek and the Bund. It's a relatively unpolished domain of old lanes, tatty working-class textures and heritage architecture. A former American- and later Japanese-controlled concession, Hóngkǒu is undergoing gradual (and sometimes lavish) redevelopment, especially close to Sūzhōu Creek.
Hóngkǒu and North Shànghǎi (虹口区、北上海) may not have the lion’s share of sights in town, but prize chunks of heritage architecture rise up from the swirl of street life and an authentic grittiness survives.
The up-and-coming North Bund area beyond Sūzhōu Creek is worth exploring for its impressive buildings, including the granddaddy of heritage hotels – the Astor House Hotel – looming art deco blocks and noteworthy concession-era classics. The American Settlement was originally here, merging with the British Settlement in 1863 to form the prosperous International Settlement. To the west, Zháběi became infamous for its sweatshops and factories and was later flattened by the Japanese in 1932.
A rich vein of Jewish heritage survives towards Yángpǔ in the east, dating from the days when Hóngkǒu was home to thousands of Jewish refugees, mostly from Germany, who transformed ‘Little Tokyo’ (where 30,000 Japanese lived) into ‘Little Vienna’. The Ohel Moishe Synagogue stands as a testament to this era. Wander round this neighbourhood and you’ll also find examples of Shànghǎi’s trademark terrace-style shíkùmén (stone-gate house) architecture, lòngtáng (alleyway) houses and narrow alleyways in between.
Close to the Bund, Hóngkǒu has some excellently positioned accommodation options, and while notable restaurants may seem thin on the ground, work your shoe leather and you can track down excellent options from across China.
- Ohel Moishe Synagogue Getting a history lesson on Jewish Shànghǎi.
- Architecture Taking a self-guided tour of Hóngkǒu’s concession-period and art deco buildings, such as the Broadway Mansions.
- 1933 Getting lost along the labyrinth of concrete walkways.
- Duolun Rd Wandering past historic architecture and curio stores.
- Vue Raising a glass to the Bund and the Pǔdōng skyline at this bar with a view.
Basing yourself in south Hóngkǒu – at the Astor House Hotel, Chai Living Residences or the Bulgari, which is set to open in 2017 – allows you to hang your Shànghǎi fedora within easy reach of the Bund across Wàibáidù Bridge (Garden Bridge) and the nearby concession architecture of the North Bund district.