A guide to Beijing’s nightlife

Sanlitun, photo by Giorgio Minguzzi

When most people think about Beijing, their thought inevitably sway towards Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the bird’s nest-shaped National Stadium or perhaps the temples. But there aren’t that many people who come to Beijing specifically with partying on their mind – Beijing comes across more like a place where you can drink delicious Chinese tea in traditional teashops – but actually the Chinese capital has quite a bustling nightlife. If you find yourself bored in the evening when you’re in Beijing, don’t think twice before hitting the bars or the clubs. Here’s a guide to Beijing’s nightlife that will give you an overview of some of the best spots in the city.

Houhai, Xicheng District

Houhai is an artificial lake in Xigcheng District, around which various bars and clubs are clustered. Although it is no longer the trendiest nightlife area in Beijing, Houhai has some very good restaurants and watering holes. Houhai is quite popular with Beijingers, and it is one of the best places to drink Chinese beer. Some of the most popular venues are Blue Lotus Club, a kitschy but cheap and interesting place frequented by locals, and Shi Yue, a small place that plays techno music till morning.

Nanluogu Xiang, Dongcheng District

Nanluogu Xiang’s cluster of bars and clubs started to appear only a few years ago, but now it is one of the hottest nightlife areas in Beijing, with an unmistakable feel. Nanluogu Xiang tends to be quite crowded at night, and people start flooding in already in the afternoon. Lugar is an interesting place serving all sorts of cocktails and signature mixed drinks, as well as Vietnamese snacks. For live rock music, you can head to Mao Live House, while Hutong Bar serves a wide selection of beer and tea until 3 in the morning.

Sanlitun, Chaoyang District

Sanlitun has long been the center of Beijing’s nightlife, and it is still very popular with locals and expats alike. Sanlitun has a cluster of regular clubs and bars on the ‘main street’, but also a couple of side streets where the cheaper places can be found. Sanlitun is not exactly unpopular with the young crowd, but you are more likely to find a slightly more mature public hanging around in the small and dimly lit bars.

Wudaokou, Haidian District

Most of Beijing’s local and foreign university students tend to hang out in the Wudaokou area of Haidian District, which is known for its restaurants and bars selling cheap wine and even stronger beverages. Lush is a very popular student hagout which regularly organizes quiz nights, while Propaganda is another place that’s usually packed and often has all-you-can-drink nights.

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