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China nightlife

The nightlife scene in China is evolving quickly, absorbing and copying styles, fashions, and musical cultures from the around the globe—and sprinkling in a few uniquely Chinese characteristics. The nightlife capital is Shanghai, where sky-high lounges created by international designers and megaclubs with imported DJs cater to an affluent mix of locals and expats. Beijing, too, is rapidly developing its once moribund after-dark scene, with a swath of glitzy venues opening in the pre-Olympic period, many of them imported from Shanghai and Hong Kong. Beijing's own unique strength is its thriving live-music scene, ranging from indie rock to hip-hop and punk.

As disposable wealth increases across China's east coast and in inland centers such as Chengdu, Xi'an, Kunming, and Chongqing, new bars and clubs are opening (and closing) at a dizzying pace. And this is, in some way, the charm of a night out in metropolitan China: Shanghai and Beijing apart, the scene is still disarmingly immature, but infused with passionate energy and optimistic hedonism.

Some things are different in China, however. In many cities, bars demand a high reservation fee for tables, especially those in the best see-and-be-seen spots. The most popular bars are increasingly located in carefully planned bar districts, often adjacent to shopping malls. Karaoke is also an intrinsic part of an evening's entertainment, especially if you are partying with local friends. But wherever you are, avoid the temptation to join a bai jiu drinking session. This local firewater has been the ruin of many an unsuspecting foreigner.

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Glamour Bar, Shanghai

Perched above the Bund is this dainty cocktail lounge, a confection of crystal chandeliers and low settees, pink-shaded lamps that cast a rosy glow, and windows...more

see the Shanghai guide
Editors' Pick
Glen

Glen focuses on well-made drinks and, above all, whiskey. The concept is a Japanese whiskey bar, and the fine collection of single malts from around the world...more

see the Beijing guide
Editors' Pick
House of Blues and Jazz

Relocated in June 2008 across town to a renovated mansion in the neoclassical backstreets behind the Bund, this is Shanghai's coolest late-night live-music...more

see the Shanghai guide
Editors' Pick
Jaabar, Hong Kong, China

Tucked down a sloping backstreet lane, this word-of-mouth gem merits a late-night search. Jaabar is members-only, but visitors are let in if they ask nicely....more

see the Hong Kong guide
Editors' Pick
Jade on 36, Shanghai

If you've come to Pudong to grab a drink at Cloud 9 take a five-minute stroll to the Shangri-La's Jade on 36 for bites of fusion tapas (foie gras lollipops...more

see the Shanghai guide
Editors' Pick
Kee Club, Hong Kong

Set above the historic Yung Kee Restaurant—the stomping ground of early-20th-century Chinese moguls—this members-only club is where the city's young...more

see the Hong Kong guide
Editors' Pick
Lan

Designed by Philippe Starck and owned by Zhang Lan's South Beauty group, this grandiose, nearly 6,500-square-foot restaurant, bar, and club is signature Starck,...more

see the Beijing guide
Editors' Pick
Lantern, Beijing

Finally, a Beijing dance club for people who actually like to dance. Lantern, in the expat nightlife district of Sanlitun, is cult local DJ collective...more

see the Beijing guide
Editors' Pick
Mima, Beijing

This courtyard café and bar in the university district has a polished, scholarly vibe. The outdoor tables are usually filled with studying students;...more

see the Beijing guide
Editors' Pick
Partyworld, Beijing

Party the Chinese way: with karaoke, known in these parts as KTV. Beijing's most popular karaoke club boasts a warren of private rooms, rentable by the hour,...more

see the Beijing guide
Editors' Pick
Results 11-20 of 33  | previous   1 2 3 4 next
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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