Shanghai outdoor excursions

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If you're heading to Shanghai for Expo 2010, you certainly won't be alone. Over 25 million tickets have already been sold, and Shanghai city officials are predicting 70 million visitors to visit by the time the Expo wraps up in October. If you tire of traipsing through the rest of the world in the many indoor pavilions and are seeking some fresh-air experiences in and around Shanghai itself, here are five tips for short outdoor excursions:

1. Stroll along the riverside of the Bund for panoramic views of Pudong and the dramatic modern architecture of Lujiazui on the opposite bank, and explore the older Concession-era architecture in the roads west of the river. Skip the midday madness of the area, and come at dawn to take in some tai chi chuan or come at dusk to see twilight settle magically over the city. For fans of the bizarre and cheesy, take a psychedelic (although needlessly expensive) ride across the river on the tram through the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel; if that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, take the ferry for less money and better views.

2. Explore the French Concession, and meander the leafy backstreets. Drop by Sun Yat-sen's former residence, take in the art-deco masterpieces like the Cathay Theatre and the Jin Jiang Hotel, and snap some pictures of the eccentric Gothic-meets-Scandinavian Moller House.

3. Visit Shanghai's famed Yuyuan Gardens and explore the shaded alcoves, sparkling fish ponds, and the beckoning classical pavilions quite unlike those that you'll find at Expo 2010. If you go, go early and only on weekdays to avoid the crowds and get a taste of the tranquil atmosphere before the hordes descend.

4. Escape to yesteryear and head out of town for quintessentially Chinese landscapes. Strewn across the Yangzi Delta area are picturesque whitewashed canal towns with cobbled lanes, humpbacked bridges, and original Ming and Qing architecture. Avoid the garishly made-over places such as Zhouzhuang and head for less-crowded villages such as Zhujiajiao and Tongli. If you're short on time, Qibao is only a hop, skip and a metro ride away, making it a practical option for a short trip from Shanghai.

5. Shanghai's remaining food streets are great places to wander for their variety of food and atmosphere. Head to Huanghe Rd near People's Park for cheap lunches to late-night snacks, and sample the broad variety of fried, boiled and steamed dumplings. Yunnan Rd near People's Square has an array of specialty restaurants serving everything from Shaanxi dumplings to Uighur kebabs. Nearer the Bund, try Zhapu Rd and Tanggu Rd for the cheapest eats in the area.

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For more info and travel tips on Shanghai, check out the Shanghai Encounter guide or download the Shanghai City Guide for the iPhone.