Qiantang River Bridges of Hangzhou

When I lived in Singapore, I mostly walked and took trains and buses (sometimes taxis). Now I’m in a bigger city, one that has a big river cutting through the middle of it, and (at least for now) I’m traveling by car from one half to the other for work. That means I’m crossing lots of bridges. Since I’m not driving, I can take photos!

They look different depending on the time of day and weather. For example, the butterfly-shaped Jiubao Bridge (which China Daily claims is the ‘most beautiful’ bridge in the city), is white in the daytime but changes to a shifting rainbow at night. I’ve got gifs to prove it!

Qiantang River (钱塘江 Qiántáng Jiāng)

The river that separates the northern part of Hangzhou City from the southern suburbs is now called the Qiantang. Previously, it was called the Zhe River. ‘Jiang’ is the Chinese word for ‘river’; Zhejiang is the name of the province because of the river.

The Qiantang River has the world’s largest tidal bore. That is, when the tide comes in, water surges upstream. Watching this happen on specific dates when the tide is strongest is a tourist attraction.

There are nine bridges over the Qiantang in Hangzhou.

I made this map by annotating a Google Maps screenshot in Photoshop. I didn’t label tunnels.

So far, I’ve only got photos of three of Hangzhou’s nine Qiantang River Bridges.

1937 – Qianjiang First Bridge: Qiantang River Bridge (钱塘江大桥 Qiántáng Jiāng Dàqiáo)

New in 1937, this historic bridge is a source of national pride. An impressive achievement of civil engineering at the time, this bridge has one level for trains and one for cars. I was on it during an abortive visit to the nearby Liuhe Pagoda. (Not a good place to go on a busy tourist day OMG.)

1992 – Second Qiantang River Bridge: Pengbu Bridge (彭埠大桥 Péngbù Dàqiáo)

A road and railway bridge.

1997 – Third Qiantang River Bridge: Xixing Bridge (西兴大桥 Xīxìng Dàqiáo)

Connects old/downtown Hangzhou on the north bank with modern suburbs Binjiang and Xiaoshan on the south bank.

Xixing Bridge
Xixing Bridge, night
Xixing Bridge

2004 – Fourth Qiantang River Bridge: Fuxing Bridge, aka Zhonghe Viaduct (复兴大桥 Fùxīng Dàqiáo)

A road and railway bridge.

2003 – Fifth Qiantang River Bridge: Yuanpu Bridge (袁浦大桥 Yuánpǔ Dàqiáo)

At the southwest corner of the map; a curved bridge at the confluence of multiple rivers.

2002 – Sixth Qiantang River Bridge: Xiasha Bridge (下沙大桥 Xiàshā Dàqiáo)

Connects to the Xiasha Economic and Technological Development Zone on the north bank.

2013 – Seventh Qiantang River Bridge: Zhijiang Bridge (之江大桥 Zhījiāng Dàqiáo)

This bridge has the same name as the lab where I work. It connects Binjiang District and Westlake District. I’ve been on it a lot in different conditions:

Zhijiang Bridge. Rain.
Zhijiang Bridge. Night.
Zhijiang Bridge. Fog.
Zhijiang Bridge. Partly cloudy. (Okay, mostly cloudy.)
Zhijiang Bridge. Blue sky!
Zhijiang Bridge. Rain again.
Zhijiang Bridge. Cloudy again.
Zhijiang Bridge. More clouds.

2012 – Eighth Qiantang River Bridge: Jiubao Bridge (九堡大桥 Jiǔbǎo Dàqiáo)

And here it is, the bridge China Daily called the city’s most beautiful:

Jiubao Bridge (day)
Jiubao Bridge (day)

What do you think, is it better with or without the color-changing LEDs? As for myself, honestly I’m torn between ‘tacky’ and ‘awesome’.

Jiubao Bridge (night)
Jiubao Bridge (night)

Each time I went on this bridge, I took a series of photos. Rather than trash 75% of them, or dump them all on the page, I figured I’d make them into gifs. Probably I should just have taken videos and made those into gifs.

You live, you learn. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2008 – Ninth Qiantang River Bridge: Jiangdong Bridge (江东大桥 Jiāngdōng Dàqiáo)

This is a cool-looking suspension bridge.

Other Hangzhou Bridges

In a list of nine bridges, only one was built before 1990. Doesn’t that seem like a lot of new infrastructure in the last 30 or so years? That’s just bridges over one river in one city. The same thing has been happening all across China. Makes my head spin to think of how far the has country come in such a short time.

Wenhui Bridge (文晖大桥 Wén huī dàqiáo)

This bridge goes over a railway.

Wenhui Bridge

Jiaxing-Shaoxing Sea Bridge and Hangzhou Bay Bridge

These aren’t really in Hangzhou. The Bay Bridge is really long!

From Google Maps, annotated in Photoshop.

More photos of highway bridges to come, probably.