Beijing Night Life

By Nomadic Matt | Published July 20th, 2008

This is a guest post by Jennifer Gregory of the On the Go Travel Blog.

If you’re planning to visit Beijing for the Olympics this year, you’ll be happy to discover that there’s no lack of places to eat, dance, drink, and enjoy live entertainment, music, and films every night of the week. Plus, Beijing is known for its fun discos and karaoke. With so much to do here, the hardest part of enjoying your nights out will be deciding which places to visit.

Here are some places to start with:

The Sanlitun Entertainment District
The Sanlitun Entertainment District in Beijing, which used to be a small area with a few bars that visitors frequented, has transformed into a very large entertainment district. It’s a popular stop for tourists. At one point, nearly all the city’s bars were located in this area, and you’ll still find plenty of bars there today. In fact, there are so many that the district is called North Bar Street, or San Li Tun Jiuba Jie.

There are several different areas in the Sanlitun Entertainment District. The Sanlitun North Area is the original section, which existed before the area expanded and grew. It is comprised of a series of streets with popular destinations such as Milan Club, the Tree, and Lan Gui Fang. The Sanlitun West Area, which is home to the Workers Stadium, is about 10 minutes to the west. Along the stadium, there are some bars, restaurants and entertainment venues, such as Outback Steakhouse, Lava Lounge, and Vics. The Sanlitun Central Area is where you’ll find businesses mixed with hotels and malls. The well-known Power House bar is located here as is the Rock & Roll Disco, which is very popular in Beijing. Another set of bars is situated between this area and the Workers’ Stadium.

Other Popular Entertainment Regions
Hou Hai is becoming more and more popular as the prime bar area within Beijing. It’s built around a lake just north of Beihai Park and is a somewhat peaceful area with just a few trendy bars.

East of here, the Nan Luogu Xiang is packed with eateries and bars, and there are a number of quality hotel bars, including the Centro, Red Moon, and Cloud Nine.

Some locals and visitors prefer to head to the Haidian district for drinks, which tend to be less expensive there. It’s also an area with relatively few tourists.

Enjoying Dancing and Music
Beijing is known for its discos, and there are many to choose from when you hit the town. Club Banana/Spicy is one of the best known and is filled with loud music and dancing patrons. The Gun Shi is less disco and more techno but is still a dancing venue and is usually quite full.

Jazz and Karaoke in Beijing
If live jazz is your preference, try the Loft, which is known for its great performances. This venue has somewhat of a traditional American feel.

If you’d rather sing than listen, try some of Beijing’s many karaoke bars. Party World, a chain venue that offers free food, should be your first stop. It’s open 24 hours a day.

Live Shows
Like Las Vegas, Beijing has a nice offering of floor shows at several locations. Among them is Success, which is near Sanlitun and offers nightly dancing and singing shows. The House, which is in the Wangujing area, offers dancers, singers, and even magic shows.

Other nighttime offerings include the Beijing Opera, along with acrobatic shows at the Wansheng Juchang, which is on the north side of Bei Wei Lu near the Temple of Heaven.

Film Choices
If watching films is your choice, you have several good options. Cherry Lane Movies shows Chinese films with English subtitles (on the weekends, only located at Kent Centre). The Box Café, near Tsinghua University, has free shows on Tuesdays and Saturdays, showing primarily independent films. The UME International Cineplex is another major theater, located south of Renmin University. It shows major Chinese hits and sometimes American films.

Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it at night in Beijing.

comments 10 Comments


well, like you say on your blog, i hope that is not true and i tend to believe that won’t happen given that so many of the athletes and vistors are black. it just doesn’t make sense.

Great post! I’m moving to Seoul next month, and China – especially Beijing – is definitely on my list of places to visit from there.

I can’t see China allowing that to happen. I similarly hope that it is simply not true.

lol, since i’m in beijing, i’m going to have to check out some of the recommendations and write about them myself! i’m way overdue for a posting :)

ps I saw a black guy drinking in the sanlitun area this weekend not that I was particularly scouting out the ethnicities in the bar

I traveled to China about 10 years ago and three African American women were in my group. They were considered very exotic by the Chinese in the town where we were living, and people would come up to them on the street and touch their hair and their skin. I wouldn’t call this racist; I simply think that when someone hasn’t had another ethnicity within their frame of reference, their first encounters are likely to be somewhat sensationalized. WHat I saw was a genuine curiosity, not racism.


@helen/dan: Glad you guys have something to do!

@mark/julie: I agree. I don’t see it happening and I think the article is a lot of hype about nothing.

Julie, when I was in Asia they were always fascinated by black people. It’s very very exotic for them and so opposite what they are used too.

Erica Johansson

Great tips! Will keep these in mind when I travel to Beijing.

Great pics for this article! I’ve had black friends travel to china and tell me about being approached by everyone, having them take pictures or touch them. I agree with Julie, it sounds more like curiosity than racism.

These are some great tips! I can’t imagine how amazing it must be to be in Beijing during the Olympics! I know that when I make my way to Beijing, I will definitely try plenty of different restaurants and bars…but I am more excited to check out the live entertainment, especially musical and acrobatic/circus-like performances. Beijing seems like such an amazing city, so I can’t wait until the first chance I get to explore it!


yeah, it is definitely a wonderful tour to Beijing! And now it’s more popular for beijingers to enjoy a weekend tour to surrounding suburbs!

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