Unlike Shanghai, Beijing has a few specific areas for great nightlife.Hou Hai Lake and the surrounding area offers a more classical location for sipping your favorite brew. Sanlitun represents modern Beijing and houses some great western and international bars and restaurants that are sometimes high end and at others so cheap you’ll feel your eyebrows pop up at the 10RMB cost of a gin and tonic. But, which area has the best nightlife? We delve into the question for you making your drinking choices simply that much easier!
San Li Tun Village and Surrounding Area:
Sanlitun Village houses some high-end drinking establishments while the back alleys behind it hold cheap bars and clubs for the riff-raff and college kids (and yours truly). Sanlitun even has a whole street of Chinese bars that have no international affiliation that try to lure in customers with quirky gimmicks that are worth checking out.
The Village has many attractions that could make it a one-stop-shop for any date night. A movie theater, great restaurants, shopping and dessert lounges and of course the bars and clubs. You could literally show up in the morning and spend a whole day wandering around the Village. Walking along the main road south of the village you’ll find the worker’s stadium which is also ringed in great bars and restaurants and clubs. Walking north you’ll find the back alley bars that cheap folks frequent. And to the East you’ll find the line of Chinese bars and, behind that, a few western ones.
Hou Hai Lake and Surrounding Area:
Hou Hai Lake is ringed with great Chinese bars and a few amazing international restaurants and bars that are extremely high end. If you start at the south entrance to the lake you can walk past the Starbucks and you’ll find a line of high-end restaurants and classy bars. This side of the lake is becoming more and more high end. You’ll find wooden boat rides, candles on white linen tables and rooms full of European tourists.
Walking around the lake you’ll start to encounter the tacky Chinese bars that are more affordable. You can negotiate for your price before going in. A Tsing-Tao Beer should be less than 20RMB, but you do have to bargain for it. Keep walking around the lake and you’ll find even cheaper bars, and off the side alleys there are great little hidden gem bars and restaurants that are worth getting lost for.
Huo Hai is more of a fun cultural experience with a pretty lake and lots of locals. Sanlitun Village is modern, bright and materialistic, but has everything you could need for a night on the town.