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For many tourists the Los Angeles experience may be limited to the airport area, Disneyland and the Anaheim amusement parks, and perhaps a day in Hollywood with a quick look at nearby Beverly Hills.

But this sprawling city has so much more to offer. Los Angeles is rather unique in that it feels like a city without a real centre. There seems to be no real LA equivalent of Times Square or Trafalgar Square. Instead it is a large number of small cities - over eighty - that are stuck together but have individual characters. At close to 20 million people, greater Los Angeles has nearly the population of Australia!

The character of these individual neighbourhoods may be due to their ethnic population - for example LA's Koreatown has the largest population of Koreans outside of Seoul. Or it may be location-related, such as the beachfront cities all along the coast.

One part of Los Angeles worth visiting these days is its downtown area, which has changed a lot in the last couple of decades. Downtown used to be a fairly sketchy place which workers would flee from as soon as the work day was over. Now it has become very trendy - and correspondingly expensive - to live and work there. High-rise apartment buildings and hip new restaurants are opening at a rapid rate.

The Broad is a contemporary museum downtown that houses the private art collection of the wealthy Broad family. In fact it has been uncharitably suggested that a motivation behind the museum is tax benefits. "How do you tell the difference between philanthropy and a tax write-off?" asked one article after the museum opened.

While not as known for its culture as say somewhere like New York, throughout Los Angeles are hundreds of museums and art galleries.

"The Last Bookstore" located downtown has one of California's biggest collection of new and used books. On the second floor is a tunnel made of books.

There are many other "only in LA" experiences to discover all over, such as this cupcake ATM. Machines that only dispense cash - how boring...!

In Los Angeles you'll never run out of things to do and see! To Be Continued...

Photos by Shirley Tu

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