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February 13, 2012

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Love on the cheap for Valentine's Day

It doesn't have to cost a fortune to say "I love you." Lovers can tour an all-chocolate theme park, make their own chocolates, learn to tie love knots, put love messages in bottles and cast them in a lake or river. Chen Ye reports on low-cost love.

Candlelit dinners, serenades, a night in a fancy hotel, a massage for two, 999 red roses, high-end chocolates, romantic comedy movies - these are Valentine's Day romantic standards, but it's getting increasingly expensive to say "I love you."

Everything - dinner for two, a dozen roses (999 is special in China where the characters for 999 mean "forever") and karaoke - can cost two or three times as much on Valentine's Day as on other days.

But it doesn't have to cost a fortune to express affection. Here are a few places to go and things to do that cost 200 yuan (US$32) or less.

Lovers can visit a chocolate theme park, learn to make love knot and put love messages in bottles and throw them on Dishui Lake, stroll along Sweet Love Road, or just make DIY love T-shirts, DIY chocolates, rent a romantic, sexy DVD and just cuddle.

Tian'ai Road

"Tian" and "ai" mean "sweet" and "love," and a stroll along Tian'ai Road has been a tradition on Valentine's Day in February and on Chinese Valentine's Day, the Qixi Festival, which falls on August 23 this year.

Over the years, many lovers have carved their names and words of love on trees, and graffiti has become a problem. Some people say the graffiti is part of the charm, while others say it's an eyesore.

Tian'ai Road, Hongkou District

China Maritime Museum

Lovers can immerse themselves in a sea of love on Valentine's Day at the China Maritime Museum.

They can learn to tie lovers' knots and climb aboard the 31-meter-long Blessing Boat (Fu Boat) built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) style. They can make DIY heart-shaped candles.

The highlight will be writing love letters, sealing them in bottles and tossing the bottles into Dishui Lake nearby.

They can tour an exhibition of relics from the Titanic, which sank on April 15, 1912, on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. The museum will also open a 3D navigation simulator so lovers will be able to weather storms.

The museum covers 21,000 square meters indoors and 6,000 meters outdoors.

It displays relics, conducts academic research and popularizes ocean science.

Address: 197 Shengang Ave, Lingang New Town, Pudong New Area

How to get there: The museum is 75km from downtown Shanghai, 32km from Yangshan Deep-Water Port, 25km from Pudong International Airport.

Take S20 (to Pudong Airport), then S2 (to Donghai Bridge) and exit at Lingang New Town.

Hours: 9:30am-4pm (closed on Mondays)

Tickets: 50 yuan

World Chocolate Wonderland

Lovers can literally surround themselves with chocolate, touring an exhibition where everything is chocolate - the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, hundreds of terracotta warriors, dinosaurs, Transformers, the Lion King and other figures from history and Hollywood.

There's even a chocolate fountain that flows with edible chocolate.

But the sweet experience will end when the World Chocolate Wonderland closes on February 19.

Address: Himalayas Center, 1188 Fangdian Rd, Pudong New Area

How to get there: Metro Line 7, Huamu Road Station, Gate 3

Hours: 10am-9pm

Tickets: 100 yuan

Valentine's Day special

Tickets: 99 yuan for 2 on February 14


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