You’ve checked-in to your backpacker hostel and have a whole evening ahead of you in China’s largest city. Lucky you. The only question now is ‘where to begin’. Fear not, we’ve got some Shanghai nightlife tips that will get the ball rolling.
Take the subway: it’s your new BFF
Even though it closes pretty early and stations are really far away from each other, plan your journey carefully and you can avoid starting the night with blisters and save some money for the important things, like drink and food.
Use cabs, they come in handy in the dark of the night
True, they’re the most expensive in mainland China (Hong Kong doesn’t count) but they’re still quite cheap and reasonable for foreigners (even backpackers), especially when its 4am and it’s raining.
Fret not: You never party alone
The expat community is very welcoming in Shanghai. But if you’re a little shy, or don’t want to make the first move, pub crawls and themed parties are the way to do it!
And for Shanghai nightlife locations? Here are my favourites…
First dates are tough, but finding the perfect spot for one isn’t
Barbarossa is my personal favourite. This Moroccan restaurant and bar floating on a pond in the middle of people’s square looks like it came right out of One Thousand and One Nights.
You can find hidden gardens at night
Cotton’s outdoor terrace is well concealed behind high walls, and the inside atmosphere is very relaxing, with very Western comfort food. Visit in winter and sit by the fireplace: you can forget where you are, if only for a night. It is the perfect place to rejuvenate yourself if you have the blues.
Sport addict? Never miss a thing
The Spot is the place to be, screens are all over the place so you won’t miss any of the action. They also have nice drinks and a decent food menu so you won’t go hungry. Sport fanatics and their friends are welcomed with open arms.
Any hour is Happy Hour
Morton’s Steakhouse is the best in town with their signature Mortinis at just 25RMB (£2.50) a go, and all you can eat mini filet mignon burgers available on the menu.
Like an open bar? They’re cheap, very cheap
Mural is the master of the open bar, the first Friday night of the month is an open bar for a tiny 100RMB (£10) entrance fee. Obviously, at this price, drinks are pretty simple, but if you’re just looking for a cheap night out, go for it!
For a real Ladies’ Night
Bar Rouge, the French rooftop bar/club on the Bund hosts Ladies’ Night every Thursday and it has been the most popular in town for several years now. A typical night offers a choice of three decent cocktails, free until midnight for the ladies! They also have a wide range of themed parties during the week.
For a place where dancing on the bar can earn you tequila shots…
Zapata’s Wednesday Ladies’ Night is like being in a Sean Paul music video. It’s hot, exotic, and tequila flows! They also serve food on their jungle themed outdoor terrace. It’s the busiest spot on the street any night of the week.
For an underground scene (yes there is one in Shanghai)
Yuyintang is an important part of the Shanghai underground scene, with live gigs every weekend and international underground rock acts making a frequent appearance. Literal music to anyone’s ears in a commercial jungle.
But if your tastes are more commercial…
Muse (on the Bund) is a popular, massive venue, with KTV (karaoke) rooms, and occupies the top floor of a shopping centre. A must see, if only once.
Partake in the national sport and crash a table
Especially at M2. This Chinese club in Hong Kong Plaza is well hidden, if you ignore the Lamborghinis at the front door. In this case, elevators. Playing a game of dice with a glass of champagne has never been more appealing. Dress well and call ahead for a table, unless you’re feeling lucky!
For a serious dress code
There’s M1NT. Be careful with this one, it’s the poshest venue in town: even Roger Federer once graced us with his presence, as did the Shanghai soccer team. As always, the best way to get is to be on the list. It’s easy, just register on their website, and dress appropriately, no flips flops or shorts here! Or they might throw you in their famous shark tank.
And when it’s all over
The nights are long, and often end at McDonalds
It is truly the place to be at 5am, before everyone heads home to sleep for a few hours. Just ask your cab driver- he knows!
Hungover is always best cured with a brunch
Attempt to get to Kommune in Tianzifang. Ok, you might get lost, you also might never find it, but if you do, you will have reached paradise. Coffee, fresh juices, and anything you possibly want is waiting for you in their little courtyard. Just sit under the tree with a very large pair of sunglasses and enjoy the day.
About Ian Fillingham
Straight after Ian finished studying at Nottingham University, he ran off to China to live in Wuxi. After a year of working, exploring, and eating too much tasty Chinese food he returned home and started working at TDT. Ian’s a fan of music, films and – no surprises – tasty Chinese food.
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