When you think of Beijing, you usually visualize the Forbidden City or the expansive Tiananmen Square, but what do you do in the evening? Until the 1990’s, there was not much to do past 9PM, but all that has changed with a chic younger Chinese crowd and more foreign visitors who want to be entertained in the evening. Today you can find everything from all night discos or karaoke bars to more traditional Chinese opera or other folk art entertainment. Beijing is a more cultural city than Shanghai or Hong Kong, but there is a diversity of nightlife that will suit anyone’s style – whether you are young or more mature.
For the young and hip, the Sanlitun district has many bars with draught beer at Western prices and discos with live or Superstar DJ’s depending on what kind of music you want. Some popular places are Rock & Roll Disco, one of the largest in Beijing; Vics that is popular with celebrities and music stars – or The Tree that has Belgian beer and great pizza. Gun Shi is a club in the Chaoynag District near Workers Stadium that is a hangout for students.
Another popular spot is the Hou Hai Bar area around a lake in Beihai Park, where there is boating available during the day, but lots of entertainment at night. The club scene includes Banana Spicy which is a typical Asian experience, especially on the weekends or the New Get Lucky Bar. If you are looking for karaoke, try Party World open 24 hours a day with free food and popular with local Chinese. You can stop by one of many bars and pubs that include Lotus Bar, Bed Tapas & Bar that features beds for their clients to lounge in! For jazz, check out the CD Jazz Café and for dancing to music of a live band try Power House or see a typical Chinese style floor show at Success.
If you want a quieter place to go to, there are many coffee houses that include The Bookworm, Riverside Café, Café de Niro, or Purple Vine Tea House. For a throwback to a bygone era, enjoy 1930s décor and great daiquiris at the World of Susie Wong. There are also four night markets open where you can browse – Dongdan Street, Xidan Street, Longfusi Temple area or Donghuamen Gate. For a really fun experience, hire a rickshaw to take you to enjoy the sights of Chang’an Street – what could be more authentic than that? The street extends all the way to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
While in Beijing, everyone should definitely experience traditional Chinese entertainment that includes performing arts such as teahouse theatre, acrobats, opera, live jazz, music concerts, or puppet shows. Performances of Beijing Opera are regularly scheduled at Tianqiaole Tea House that has elaborate and spectacular costumes and acrobatics. Most have subtitles and mime so that language is not a barrier to understanding – it is an ancient art that must be seen.
Other popular places for traditional shows include Beijing People’s Art Theater, Ancient Opera Building, Capital Theatre, the Beijing Concert Hall, or the China Folk Culture Palace. Still others include Teahouse of Prince Gong’s Mansion, Huguang Guild Hall, and Zhengyici Xilou. For modern song and dance you can go to Tianqiao Theater or for folk culture try the Liyuan Theater inside the Jianguo Hotel.