China is well known not just for its culture and heritage, and but also for China’s Nightlife. Yes, while it is slowly catching up with the western trends of nightlife options, China’s own night scene is quite distinct and has its own charm and personality. China is a large and a highly populated country and therefore it has a lot of influences. This only means the nightlife her is bound to be wide-ranging, different and interesting at the same time.
There is a lot to do and in China, anything could mean from karaoke to disco dancing to Chinese opera dinners to western style pubs and clubs. While most people would want to believe that China is a conservative society with no vibrant lifestyle, the truth is far from this. The Chinese love to party, just like anyone else anywhere else in the world. Shanghai and Beijing have a lot of clubs, some very expensive too.
To simply put it, the diverse nightlife in China ensures that there is something suitable for everyone. As the darkness descends the cities light up to some colourful choices. And if you have been thinking that the nightlife is only for the young, then you are wrong. China has some brilliant traditional Opera, drama and acrobatic performances that will keep the mature audiences interested and enthralled. The younger generation prefers clubs, cafes and pubs.
Here is a list of recommended things to do to enjoy the China’s Nightlife.
1. Soak in Chinese Folk Culture at Tianqiao
This is one of the oldest options in our list of China’s Nightlife places and one of the most preferred by the older generations. The Tianqiao area, also known as the overbridge area is popular in Beijing for gatherings to eat, drink and enjoy. A lot of amusements and entertainment programmes are conducted here. Tianqiao has been the most favourite place for the commoners to enjoy ever since the Yuan Dynasty. This is the place to watch Chinese acrobatic artists perform some original pieces of art. For the ultimate dose on Chinese folk culture, Tianqiao is the place.
Operating Hours: varies from city to city
How much Time to Spend: Depends on the programmes
Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5/5
2. Go Watch an Opera
There are some things that you simply must do when you are looking to explore the China’s nightlife. Just like trying the roast duck and seeing the Great Wall of China is highly recommended, enjoying a night at the opera theatre is one must-do-thing at night in China. The Beijing theatre is big and popular and is known to have provided entertainment for years. Opera theatres are a combination of music, art, literature, opera and dancing to show the audience the exact picture of China’s folk art. If oriental culture interests you, then this is a place to be. The experience is kind of interesting, original and sometimes funny as well, as some of the actors allow the audience to watch their work of characterization even before the show starts.
Chinese tea is well known all over the world and China has an interesting and rich tea culture. There are many tea houses in China, some characterised by the unique style and decoration and others which still wear the traditional look and are a great combination of the Chinese folk culture and tea. There are a lot of modern tea houses too which mainly serve the Oolong. Visitors interested in the strong local culture prefer the traditional tea house. The older Chinese go to the teahouses not only to enjoy some tea but also for a taste of incredible traditional performances such as acrobatics, comic dialogue, Chinese opera and magic tricks. You can check out some of these performances as well, making your China’s nightlife experience even more memorable.
The National Centre for the performing arts, China Folk Culture palace and even the Beijing Concert Hall each offers the elite of entertainment and this adds to the already vast list pastimes in our list of experiences related to China’s nightlife. One of the most popular art forms by the Chinese is the acrobatics who have a long history and have gained worldwide fame just for this astonishing skills and incredible acts. Other performances include exotic ballets, puppet shows, concerts, opera and modern drama. The full details of upcoming performances are always published in newspapers.
This is an important aspect of the China’s nightlife and culture. The Chinese love karaoke and this is best enjoyed with friends. The more the merrier. If karaoke is something you enjoy, just head to the nearest karaoke place. Join a group or just make some new friends and sing along as your food and drinks arrive. The best part here is you can sing, you can yell and no one judges you as long as you are having a good time.
China is very traditional in their meals which range from noodles to steamed vegetables to meat. While there are a plenty of fast food joints such as Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, and KFC, why not try out the Chinese most popular delicacy referred to as Chinese hotpot. This is a simmering metal pot of broth placed at the centre of the table with all the other raw ingredients placed beside it so that the people can cook all that they like in the broth. This is one of the most unique experiences in our China’s nightlife activities.
The Hotpot has a long history dating back to over 1,000 years and was mostly savoured and enjoyed during winter but in the recent years, they have been appearing on tables all year round. It became popular mainly because of its delicious flavour and also because it offered a great opportunity for socializing, since you would sit around the pot as a group eating, drinking chatting and having a time of a lifetime. It is also considered to be a healthy meal since boiling is healthier than frying and all the nutrients are retained into the broth.
The most popular hotpots include the Beijing mutton hotpot and the Sichuan hotpot but there are also other popular seafood hotpots. Sichuan hot pots are full of flavours and if you want to challenge your taste buds then just go for it! There are lots of hotpot branches all over China’s big cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu and are also easily found. We highly recommend you have a traditional hotpot meal and savour those moments. Do not miss these hotpots if you want the taste of the real and rustic China’s nightlife.
There are so many interesting places where you can stay late, let your hair down and let loose. Shanghai and Beijing are top and scoring high in the partying scene in China. There are high-end clubs which have good lighting, sounding, décor and they sell highly expensive wines, champagnes, and other drinks. Shanghai is the city that never really sleeps and stays lively way past daytime. When darkness falls in, the bars and clubs in Shanghai are abuzz with excitement and full of energy. It is known to have the trendiest, most happening nightspots in the whole of Asia and hence aptly called the most colourful nightlife in China.
Cities such as Macau, Guangzhou, Xi’an, Chengdu, and Beijing have countless areas to drink and club up to the wee hours of the night. Regardless of how big or small the town or city is, in China, the party just doesn’t stop.
Popular bars and clubs in Shanghai: Bar Rouge, Vue Bar, Zapata’s, Kung Fu Komedy Club.
Popular Bars and clubs in Beijing: Chocolate, Mix Club, Vics
Popular bars and clubs in Xian: Changlefang Leisure Club, Liuyuan Leisure Club
Popular bars and clubs in Chengdu: Jellyfish Bar, Shamrock Irish Bar and restaurant, Little Bar
China has a lot of modern movie theatres across all its major cities and towns. Hollywood or Bollywood, they play it all. There are movie schedules, and all you need to do is choose the one you want to watch, make time and take in this exciting China’s nightlife experience!
Operating Hours: open until late in the night
How much Time to Spend: Depends
Trip Advisor Rating: 4/5
A ride around Shanghai or Beijing will show you how bright and fun loving China is. Clearly, China is rather big and happening on the nightlife; the partying there is thorough and way over the top. The entertainment spots always work really hard to be on par with the high global expectations. Things as simple as the street lights can change your mood. A walk or a ride around the city under these lights is enough to rejuvenate the soul and mind. China is indeed a country that has managed to balance its traditional culture and modern values well.
China is a large country and its culture and heritage owes it roots primarily to Confucianism Taoism and Buddhism. Its contribution towards performing arts and arts is commendable. The Chinese acrobatics and opera have managed to make a remarkable mark on the world. China’s food culture and traditions constantly refer to community socializing. While China adapts the new modern values and welcomes the western culture, it has managed to keep up the balance between its own.
China with its plateaus, plains, mountains and the sea coast has been great not just culturally and geographically but it has also proved its worth in the global markets. China does come across as a conservative nation; however, its nightlife has a different story to tell. It might be a notch or two lesser than the other nations in terms of nightlife but it is certainly not boring. The Chinese nightlife has something for everyone. Be it the operas for the matured audiences, the bars , pubs and pub crawls for the younger generation or the community eat-outs, each of them will give you a vibrant flavour of the country.
Shanghai and Beijing are the more popular hubs when it comes to China’s nightlife. Shanghai is known to be the city that never sleeps. If you are a person who enjoys the nightlife, Shanghai has an enormous list of activities that will keep bringing you back to the city over and over again.
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Doubts about China nightlife? Here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the legal age to get into bars and clubs in China?
You have to be 18 years or older to get an entry in a bar or club.
Which cities are popular for their nightlife?
Shanghai and Beijing are quite well known for their nightlife. Other cities and towns in China also have a nightlife but not as vibrant as Shanghai and Beijing.
Is alcohol served in pubs and clubs?
Yes. Alcohol is served in pubs and clubs. Some high-end pubs and clubs serve popular international alcohol brands too.
Is it safe to travel or explore the city alone?
China is known to be safe for solo travellers. Beware of pickpockets and keep your wallets and phones always close to you.
What medicines should I carry?
Apart from your regular medication, make sure to carry medication for allergies, upset stomach and aspirin.
I don’t speak Chinese. What language will work?
Most cities have people who speak and understand English. If not make sure to use a phrase book to help you get the terms right. With translation apps and digital technology, asking for help is really easy.
A day dreamer by nature and writer by choice, Ratna is a movie buff and has an undying penchant for food. She is an avid reader and a dog lover. Her ultimate dream is to travel places and own a house in a secluded country like Bhutan.