- Beijing’s Best Sights
- Beijing’s Best Restaurants
- Beijing’s Best Nightlife
- Beijing’s Best Arts and Leisure
- Beijing’s Best Shops
- Beijing’s Best Hotels
- Best of the Great Wall
- Shanghai’s Best Sights
- Shanghai’s Best Restaurants
- Shanghai’s Best Nightlife
- Shanghai’s Best Arts and Leisure
- Shanghai’s Best Shops
- Shanghai’s Best Hotels
- Shanghai’s Best Excursions
Beijing is a great place to party, with every imaginable permutation of bar, club, and pub. The scene might not yet be as sophisticated as Shanghai’s, but there is enough variety to guarantee a memorable night out.
The city’s major nightlife hub is the Sanlitun area and nearby Workers’ Stadium. Sanlitun started to fill up with bars in the late 1990s, and the action spread to the stadium area. The SARS outbreak of 2003 encouraged revelers to move outside, and they did just that, migrating to the Houhai district.
The shores of Houhai Lake, just northwest of Workers’ Stadium, soon began to hum with life. The bars that flank the lakeside tend toward the glitzier end of the nightlife spectrum and are good for a loud and energetic night. More discerning drinkers may not find the Houhai scene to their liking. However, it’s worth a trip to visit the East Shore Live Jazz Café, one of the city’s best jazz venues.
Sanlitun is still hugely popular, and the west gate of Chaoyang Park is on the rise as a new social center. The CBD is now home to some classy bars and lounges, while Gulou Avenue in Houhai is your best bet for a cheap, laidback night with a bohemian vibe.
Beijing’s legendary live music scene can be enjoyed at several excellent venues, like Yugong Yishan and MAO Livehouse. The gay scene is slowly picking up here with a selection of bars and lounges catering to the LGBT crowd, but Destination is really the only option for late-night dancing.
© Susie Gordon from Moon Beijing & Shanghai, 2nd Edition