A bit of everything in shiny Shanghai
A funny thing about international expo and trade centres is that on the inside they all look pretty much the same to travel-weary business people.
The Shanghai New International Expo Centre is no exception, although, fortunately, there is plenty to see once business travellers make their way back to the city's financial district in Pudong, or wherever else they may be staying.
Xintiandi is often cited by hotel concierges as a place to visit after a busy day of meetings, to enjoy the area's eclectic mix of restaurants and its high-end stores. But exploring the district is not exactly an adventure.
Restaurants there include safe if not boring picks such as Starbucks Coffee, The Coffee Bean, Häagen-Dazs and Cold Stone Creamery, although there is also a steakhouse, a Latin eatery and a pizzeria. Boutique shops, meanwhile, display purses, watches and upmarket clothing from brands including Omega and Lacoste.
Xintiandi tends to attract the after-work suit crowd, in addition to young hipsters who study in Shanghai, so if neither that particular social scene nor its retail offerings interests you, consider visiting Yu Yuan Garden instead.
The garden may be closed by sunset, but there are interesting buildings of traditional design nearby - with much more Asian food than Xintiandi seems to offer.
Small shops and eateries compete fiercely by offering passers-by samples of their Chinese candies, dim sum, dumplings and bubble tea. Mochi Sweets, a Japanese luxury brand, sells sweet and tangy honey and lemon cream mochi that is highly recommended, as well as a variety of tiramisu.
Elsewhere in the city, the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel is worth visiting - if only for its quirky assault on the senses. This tunnel features a transparent mechanical pod in which travellers can ride for about five minutes while crossing the main river that intersects downtown Shanghai. A two-way ticket costs 60 yuan (Dh34.82), but the zany music and bizarre light show during the ride are worth the fee.
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