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Cheap romance: first date ideas in Shanghai for under 60RMB

Love shouldn't cost a thing, but if it has to, at least keep it under 60RMB

Photograph: Andrea Piacuadio on Pexels
Swiped right, the chat’s flowing and the next step is to meet up. Not flush on cash right now? These date ideas will impress (or at least intrigue) without needing to fork out on a fancy dinner.
The ‘museum’ date

The ‘museum’ date

Even if your date doesn't get turned on by old dinosaur bones and taxidermy, you’ll never run out of things to talk about at the incredible (and sprawling) Shanghai Natural History Museum that covers all corners of the natural world. With over 280,000 exhibits to work your way through – from fossil collections to panoramas on ancient agriculture to ethnic minorities’ traditional clothing – there’s conversation starters for days.

The ‘picnic’ date

The ‘picnic’ date

Wander around the West Bund, blanket and 45RMB bottle of Rawson’s Retreat in hand and find a nice peaceful grassy space to sit down and canoodle in. Use your leftover change to pair the cheap wine with impressionable fancy-sounding snacks like the truffle-flavoured Lay's at Family Mart. It can’t be denied, wine + truffle = winner.

The ‘active’ date

The ‘active’ date

Relationships are a test of endurance anyway, so you may as well start early at The Rooster's weekly 5km fun run. Starting at 7.30pm on a Thursday, entry is free and so is the beer you’re rewarded with upon completion – where you and your romantic interest can toast to your fitness (and future?).

The ‘movie’ date

The ‘movie’ date

When you can’t afford to top up the old Netflix account, take your chill session to Commune Reserve on a Tuesday when the beer bar plays a film – anything from Oscar noms to British rom-coms – on its big screen from 9pm. Select craft beers are buy-one-get-one free during the screening which is a resourceful (ahem, generous) way of getting your date a free beverage.

The ‘coffee’ date

The ‘coffee’ date

Shanghai has loads of coffee spots but picking Love Concept Cafe seems like a good omen considering it already has love in its name. If the conversation’s not saying much, let the cosy, cute pink interior do the talking – and the coffee itself is solid (Americano for 16RMB, latte for 28RMB). It’s also pet-friendly, so your doggo can third wheel and then help you out with a post-date stroll around the Old Xuhui area. Remember, dogs bring people together.

The 'scenic' date

The 'scenic' date

Tell your doting date to meet you at Shanghai Circus World Metro (Line 1). There may some initial disappointment when they realise they haven’t been whisked away for day of acrobatics, but the nature on show at Daning Park more than makes it up for it. There are forest paths, lakes, flowers and a white sandy beach (albeit man-made) that sets a romantic scene with couples snapping wedding photos.

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