Before the economic boom of the last decade, the social scene in Beijing could only be described as lacking – and that’s putting it mildly. After the collapse of communism, however, this changed dramatically and a wealth of bars, clubs and pubs began to appear all over the city. The majority of bars and pubs, however, are concentrated around two main districts – Sanlitun Lu and Haidian. The former is now better known as Jiu Ba Jie or Bar Street and Nan Jiu Ba Jie or South Bar Street while the latter is widely regarded as the bohemian social centre.
Sanlitun received its second lease of life back in the mid 90’s when a local businessman decided to revamp the only pub in the region. Now the streets are literally lined with bar after bar. The only bad thing about this is that so many of them are practically carbon copies of their neighbours. The common consensus is that if isn’t broken, then it doesn’t need to be fixed so if one bar is doing well, why not build another just like it? Nevertheless, it is a really good place to party and will be quite an interesting experience for western visitors to the Chinese capital. Although sometimes you will be hard pushed to realize that you’ve left home at all thanks to the vast collection of theme pubs.
If you prefer a bit of variety, however, head to Haidian. Located in the university part of Beijing, it’s trendy, young and considerably cheaper than Bar Street where the owners think it reasonable to charge western prices for their western visitors.
If pubs and clubs aren’t really your scene, then don’t panic. You will find live music in most of them but there are other venues which might be more to your liking. The Beijing Concert Hall is always an option or you could check out the Beijing Opera. Regardless of how diverse your taste, the Opera is always worth a visit. And for something completely different why not check out some authentic Chinese puppetry at the Puppet Theatre on Anhua Xi Lu.
Finally, for up to date news on live happenings around the city keep an eye out for Beijing Scene which you will find in most bars and clubs or check out the Xianzai Beijing website.
2 Nanchang Jie, Beijing, China
Not all after-dark establishments in the Chinese capital are about drinking beer, shots or cocktails. This city has numerous teahouses which remain open until the early hours of the night. This one, located close to the Forbidden City, is a small teahouse, perfect for unwinding after a busy day.
Open daily from 12 noon-2am.
12 Nan Sanlitun, Chaoyang, Beijing, China
Beijing's first Irish pub, Durty Nellies is a pretty lively spot of an evening. And with the growing selection of traditional Irish food and drink on offer it's easy to see why. A little pricier than usual for a pint of the black stuff in its homeland but well worth checking out.
7 Sanlitun Lu, Beijing, China
The city's best known bar, Poachers is as English as the English themselves. Showing movies on Wednesday, live jazz on Thursday and a disco on Friday and Saturday, it offers a mix of entertainment to suit all.
2 Xitucheng Road, Beijing, China
Extremely popular among western visitors to Beijing, this nightclub features an army jeep, a helicopter and is designed around an aircraft hangar. Music is mixed, beer is expensive but it is a top spot.
Sea Sky Shopping Centre, 12 Chaoyangmenei Dajie, Beijing, China
Playing host to a mixture of local and international DJs, Club Banana offers a number of different areas in which to while the night away. Interesting club and one of the first of its kind in the city.
6 Xinjiekor North Street, Beijing, China
If you're into something a little different then this is definitely the club for you. One of the city's chicest clubs featuring laser shows to complement the sci-fi decor of the place, it really does have to be seen to be truly appreciated.
1 Guanghua Road, Beijing, China
Its location on the edge of Ritan Park is what makes this little cafe bar worth a visit. Sit back on the wonderful patio, enjoy a cool beer and and watch the world unwind in the park. It's quite therapeutic.
208 Dongsi Beijie, Beijing, China
Popular live music venue where local bands ply you with raucous punk on Friday and Saturday nights. With Beijing punk is a little different if nothing else.
North Gate of Worker Stadium, Beijing, China
They've come from all over to Beijing and Cuba is no exception. Salsa dancing, Sunday chill out music and excellent food combine to make Havana Cafe one of the best places to kick back in the city.
South Gate of Chaoyang Park, Beijing, China
If you think you can last the distance then check out Beijing's newest and most happening disco where things kick off about midnight and keep going until dawn. Don't expect to do any sightseeing the next day.
Language & Culture University, opposite Wudaokou Market, Beijing, China
Finally one for the budget conscious among you. Special offers on drink on Wednesday and Thursday and free drink all night on Friday and Saturday once you've paid your RMB50 entrance fee - can't be bad.
43 Bei Sanlitun Lu, Beijing, China
Connected to a hostel of the same name and one of the many bars in Bejing's famous Sanlitun area, Poachers is popular with ex-pats and backpackers alike. Popular all week, Thusdays gather a large crowd who flock for the live jazz band, while Friday and Saturday nights are club nights.
Open daily from 4pm-close.