Beijing Nightlife

Beijing's nightlife and entertainment scene is undergoing a revolution, as modern Beijingers enjoy the benefits of an income that their parents could only have dreamed of.

The most popular nightlife area (heavily frequented by expats) is Sanlitun, where bars offer Western beer at Western prices, and are generally much livelier than elsewhere.

Much more laid back and with a more underground vibe to it, thanks to its live-music scene, is the area around the Drum and Bell Towers (known as Gulou), including the bars on and around historic Nanluoguxiang alley. Nearby, Houhai (Back Lakes) is lined with bars and cafés, which are great places for a drink by day but which transform into noisy, neon-lit karaoke bars at night.

Beijing is the cultural capital of China and many pre-Cultural Revolution art forms are being revived to sit alongside Beijing's strong contemporary music, arts and literary scenes. Western influences have also been embraced to transform traditional Chinese art forms into contemporary theatre, with Chinese translations of Western plays also available.

The best city listings magazines are City WeekendTime Out Beijing, and The Beijinger.

Capital Spirits and The Distillery

The mission of this specialist hutong bar is to bring baijiu (China’s traditional grain spirit) to a more cosmopolitan, urban audience. Famously alcoholic, and similar to Russian vodka, the drink can be an acquired taste, but this is a great place to acquire it, with tasting sessions where you can sample the four distinctive styles of the spirit.

16 Xinsi Hutong, Dongcheng, Beijing, 100007, China
Telephone: +86 10 6409 3319.

Bars in Beijing


Part bar, part restaurant, part courtyard-style beer garden, 4corners is a hip hutong hangout with live music, beers and cocktails and plenty of youthful enthusiasm. There’s also an interesting menu of healthy Asian and global food to munch while you socialise, including some great gluten free pizzas.

27 Dashibei Hutong (off Gulouxidajie), Xicheng, Beijing, 100009, China
Telephone: +86 10 6401 7797.
Infusion Room

Polished concrete and a triangular rack of spirits and cocktail ingredients set the scene at this sophisticated Sanlitun speakeasy, hidden behind a password-protected door inside D Lounge. The cocktail menu is truly cutting edge, with drinks infused with oolong tea, seaweed and wood-smoke. Expect to pay a little more though.

2nd floor, D Lounge Courtyard, 4 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang, Beijing, 100027, China
Telephone: +86 10 6415 9837.
Red Dog

Colorfully designed, this hip bar has a great atmosphere and it also serves up superb cocktails.

B1-538, Tower 12, Sanlitun Soho 8 Gongti Bei Lu,, Chaoyang, Beijing, China
The Tiki Bungalow

Expect the voodoo iconography, bright Aloha vibe, and excellent cocktails in this award-winning bar. Its Lost Classics cocktails are glorious - from "Blood & Sand" to "Hanky Panky", we like them all.

34 jiao dao kou san tiao, Beijing, China

Clubs in Beijing

Club Mix

Like Vics Club, which sits directly opposite it, Mix has an emphasis on mainstream dance tunes and is a popular club in Beijing. It's a little cheesy and the dancefloor gets cramped, but this place still packs in the punters and attracts some well-known local and international DJs.

Workers Stadium north gate, Gongrentiyuchang Beilu, Chaoyang, Beijing, 100027, China
Telephone: +86 10 6506 9888.
Dada Bar

This resolutely weird and undeniably cool cocoon of a club puts together a line-up of taste-making local DJs and a handful of international stars. Musically, it runs the gamut from skweee to cold wave and everything electronic in-between, so expect to stay late.

206 Gulou Dong Dajie, Dongcheng, Beijing, China
Telephone: +86 183 1108 0818.
Vics Club

Arguably the king of Beijing clubs, the cavernous Vics Club is located inside the north gate of the Workers Stadium and mixes up a nightly thrash of soul, R & B, pop and reggae. Popular with visiting celebrities and music stars, the dancefloor is packed to the rafters on Ladies Night on Wednesdays.

Workers Stadium north gate, Gongrentiyuchang Beilu, Chaoyang, Beijing, 100027, China
Telephone: +86 10 5293 0333.

Live Music in Beijing

Dusk Dawn Club

This cool, hutong hold-in-the-wall hosts an eclectic schedule of live music - from indie rock to folk and jazz. The drinks menu runs to craft beers and single malts, and if you want a break from the live sets, you can pull back to the main bar or pop out onto the veranda.

14 Shanlao Hutong, Dongcheng, Beijing, 100007, China
Telephone: +86 10 6407 8969.
Yugong Yishan

Housed in part of the former government headquarters of the short-lived Chinese warlord Duan Qirui, Yugong Yishan is one of Beijing's coolest live music spots. It boasts a high stage, a stellar sound system, elegant interior design, an upstairs lounge and an excellent list of mostly local acts, mixed with some not particularly well-known foreign names.

3-2 Zhangzizhong Lu, Dongcheng, Beijing, 100007, China
Telephone: +86 10 6404 2711.
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