Beijing Nightlife Tips by mke1963 Top 5 Page for this destination

Beijing Nightlife: 215 reviews and 243 photos

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Shaolin Warriors - Beijing
Shaolin Warriors: Shaolin Warriors

The Shaolin Warriors will be loved by some, but not by others. We went with no particular expectations and felt that it would probably be a real highlight for many visitors to Beijing.

The show provides an introduction to the annual cycle of the monks of the Shaolin Temple, home of the Chan (Zen) sect of Mahayana Buddhism. The show is mainly dance, with the monks showing their skills in balance and coordination. Don't expect to much high-kicking HK flick kung fu: this is the more accomplished meditative style, with plenty of controlled thrashing around of arms and tools.

One of the underlying themes in the show is how the monks can defend themselves with their bare hands but also with everyday objects from their lives - staffs, sticks, even their begging bowl.

The sound system is, unfortunately, far too loud and of poor quality. This lets down a stellar performance. I happen to know a young Shaolin monk (the son of an employee of mine) and this brings home the rigours of the monastic training at Shaolin. Two stars of the show are young - about 9 years old - boy monks, who are so serious and diligent.

This is not one of those dinner shows, nor a cheap tourist charade. It is an excellent evening's entertainment.

Address: Chaoyang Cultural Centre, 17 Jintaili, Xiaozhuang

Directions: Jintai Xilu runs from Guanghua Lu up to Cahoyang Bei Lu, and is on the corner of Chaoyang Lu, one block in from the East Third Ring Road.

Other Contact:

Phone: 8599 0393 (English)

Theme: Theater

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2011
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Centro: Centro@ The Kerry Centre

A few years back, the bar of the Kerry Centre was a tired old hotel was OK, but it was a bit boring. The Aria bar had a lot more life.
Recently though, it seems that Centro has picked up, and the last two nights it has been heaving, all night long.

It's an upmarket set, not really a backpacker joint or where you wil meet locals. It is for the moneyed classes and corporate types really, but it has been fun. You don't feel like you're in China, but it is classy, busy and noisy.

Dress Code: Smartish.

Address: Kerry Centre Hotel

Directions: Guanghua Lu

Theme: Eating and Drinking

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  • Written Jul 29, 2007
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Black Sun Bar: Black Sun Bar

One of the old Sanlitun Nanlu watering holes has reinvented itself at the Chaoyang Park west gate mess of pubs, bars, restaurants and miscellaneous oddities.

The Black Sun has a fair selection of beers, including various Erdinger and Hoegaarden witbiers, and has the advantage of a pool table and a darts board.

There is a small outdoor area - useful for those balmy Beijing evenings when the taste of Gobi Desert had disappeared.

A regular crowd of mixed expats and Chinese can be seen nightly checking their Blackberries, PDAs and high-tech gadgetry.

Quiet-ish atmosphere.

Address: Just north of the park entrance

Directions: In the brown brick building.

Theme: Eating and Drinking

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Apr 29, 2006
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Jeans: Jeans

Another nicely designed bar with a terrace out on the small lake at Laitai. Not quite as good music s next door at Touch, but still a pleasant evening spot to watch the sun go down or the smog to thicken.

No food.

Not the place to people watch. This street of increasingly good bars is still unknown.

Address: "Super Bar Street" (yeeuch) at Laitai

Directions: Only in China would somewhere be officially known as Super Bar Street. In the area immediately to the east of the Hilton and the Landmark hotels.

Theme: Eating and Drinking

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Aug 30, 2005
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The Tree: Hidden Tree The Tree Sanlitun Bar Street Review

NOTE: The Hidden Tree moved to the Sanlitun Bei Lu area (near Fish Nation) at the beginning of Feb 2005.

The Hidden Tree on the southern part of Sanlitun is a relaxed, cosy place. In the summer the tiny outside terrace is shady, if a bit claustrophobic, and in winter the red-brick interior and subdued lighting makes it a popular place for a drink.
It is owned by a Belgian, so there is a good selection of European beers. Perhaps more surprisingly is the huge pizza oven stuck onto the front of the building, and it serves (arguably) the best pizza in town.
Unlike many Sanlitun establishments, this is a attention-free bar, where you can just have a beer without suddenly finding a young lady leaping into the seat opposite or next to you.
A good place to just meet with some friends, read the paper or have a pizza.

Dress Code: No dress code.

Address: Off Sanlitun Bei Lu

Directions: It is in the courtyard of the Youth Hostel. Follow the street past Fish Nation, turn left and it's through the gate on the left.

Theme: Eating and Drinking

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated May 21, 2005
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Touch: Touch

Touch is one of the ten bars that have been built by the lake in the awkwardly named Super Bar Street, a street where the sterility (don't any of Beijing's planners recognise the trend??) of the similarly planned Chaoyang Bar Street has been narrowly avoided.

Touch is half-open at lunchtime. You might be lucky and find one person there who might serve you a drink - they are friendly people.

This French-owned bar opened in mid-April, and is arguably the best of the bunch along the lake. The bars on the street behind are all clubs - all empty, belting out a bizarre mix of 1980s pop and serving expensive foreign beers.

Touch has a "touch" of class, and the outdoor terrace is great in the early evening. You can't watch the sun go down, but it is still a tranquil scene as people walk and cycle home.
They serve a limited menu of food (It is the only bar on this stretch that does), but the food is good.

Address: Super Bar Street

Directions: Off Tianzhe Lu, Lai Tai area (north of the Kempinski)
Look for the building made up of hanging steel chains!

Phone: 6468 9192

Theme: Eating and Drinking

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written May 21, 2005
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Workers' Gymnasium: Workers' Gymnasium

If you get the chance to see a concert at the Workers' Gymnasium, this is a real 'fit in with the locals' event. The acoustics are very good, but the building is somewhat decaying. Lighting on the upper level corridors is very poor. In the winter, note that although promoters sometimes state the venue as the (nearby) Workers' Stadium it will be held at the Gymnasium. If you cannot get to your seat early, it will get taken by others, especially if in a good area. In this case, you will need to find a seat nearer te stage around the curve where you may get only a partial view of the whole stage but get to see the central 'stars' close up. Standing up and joining in is definitely frowned upon and you will be asked to sit down. As a tip, buy a whole load of the 'light sticks' on sale outside to liven up the event visually.

Dress Code: Whatever

Address: Gongti Bei Lu

Directions: Just east of Workers' Stadium

Theme: Live Music

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 23, 2005
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Just one more week: Sanlitun Nanjie gone! Sanlitun Bar Street Review

Sanlitun Nanjie has gone. With the exception of The Hidden Tree (which is moving up to Sanlitun Bei Lu in a week or so) and Nashvilles (going to move...not really bothered if it is demolished quite frankly), the rest are gone.
By gone, I mean, gone. Demolished. Piles of rubble.

Dress Code: Hard hat, big hammers and pneumatic drills. Big dump truck without brakes optional.

Address: Sanlitun Nanjie

Directions: Follow the dumpsters.

Theme: Eating and Drinking

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 30, 2005
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Durtie Nellies #2: Durtie Nellies #2 Durtie Nellies #2 Review

With the demolition of the original Durtie Nellies on Sanlitun Nanjie, the Durtie Nellies by the Third Ring Road at the Lufthansa Centre is the only Durtie Nellies.

Durtie Nellies is like any Irish "pub" around the world outside Ireland. It is stacked full of Irish-themed memorabilia, including in this case a hand-painted portrait of Michael Collins which should keep the British expats happy (errrr!!).
Durtie Nellies is a bit unusual in Beijing in that it is generally free of the "night-life" found in other business expat visitor-laden haunts. This makes it a pace where you can sit back and eat, drink, read, listen to the music on your own without being hassled.
If you like big, noisy crowds, Durtie Nellies is a bit hit-and-miss. The pool table and the darts board brings in groups which livens the place up, and Durtie Nellies seems to attract locals as well as expats (unlike the other similar bars) which makes it a nicer place.

The food can be a bit hit-and-miss as well, and I have had the worst Irish stew ever here. Normally the food is acceptable, if a bit insipid.

Dress Code: It's a mellow place rather than a raucous pub, but it is friendly, you can meet locals and expats easily, and it is "comfortable".

Address: By the old Lai Tai flower market

Directions: East Third Ring Road, on the other side of the Liangmahe river from the Lufthansa Centre at the back of the carpark (just by the footbridge over the river)

Theme: Eating and Drinking

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Dec 18, 2004
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An alternative to Sanlitun - Beijing
Super Bar Street: An alternative to Sanlitun

Slowly but surely, Sanlitun is disappearing. Much of Sanlitun Nanjie has already gone (including the original Durty Nellies),
Many of the bars from Sanlitun have scattered into the side streets off Sanlitun Beilu and to last year's hip area Houhai.
The government, as always keen to plan the 'touristic cultural experience' and simply unused to bars just "being whereever they want to be", have been pushing other areas as replacements.
The dreadful street of theme bars near the south gate of Chaoyang park is possibly the worst example of forced planning on the face of the planet (most of them have closed as they were so dire). Another area which seemed to be heading the same way was the area around the lake between Xiao Yun Lu and Liangmaqiao Lu, east of the Kempinski and Hilton hotels. However, some recent appearances suggest that things may be looking up.
The crassly named "Super Bar Street", off the equally crassly named Lady Street is looking a bit more disrespectable, and that is encouraging. Bizarrely, the original bars and restaurants faced resolutely away from the lake, but a new crop of more interesting bars, cafes and restaurants have moved in. Many have not even opened yet, but are looking the part.
However, China has long demonstrated the ability to build bars that should be atmospheric, but all the money has gone on glitz, leaving no money or attention on actually providing a decent ambience or decent music or decent food or drink (Have you ever eaten in any of the Sanlitun Bei Lu joints?).
"Super Bar Street" has struggled vainly for a couple of years, but seems to be developing its own style now.
Considering that this street is literally a stones throw from where the new American embassy is being built, I suspect it may not last for ever, as neither the Chinese government nor the US ambassador will want to encourage large numbers of clubbers and drinkers nearby.
Still, worth a look if you want to get away from the low-brow crap of Sanlitun Bei Lu or the naffness of Houhai.

Address: Off Lady Street, Chaoyang

Directions: Half way along Lady Street, almost opposite the new Laitai flower market.

Theme: Eating and Drinking

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Nov 30, 2004
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