May 9, 2015
In between meetings, we had a chance to explore the night life in Beijing!
In a city that boasts over 21 million people, we figured finding places to unwind after full days of meetings would not be a problem. We spent back-to-back nights exploring the two most popular, beautiful, and recommended districts for tourists – Houhai and Sanlitun. Houhai is a lake located in the center of Beijing and has a vibrant surrounding neighborhood. The hutong neighborhood around the lake has been built up over the last decade, with residences being converted to restaurants and bars. Sanlitun has a very large mall with international stores and is surrounded by many bars. This area is probably the top destination for expats and tourists who are looking for a fun evening.
The scene is very different than European and USA big cities offer, and was unlike any country I had visited before:
- All of the lights – it was lit up almost like Vegas. Every bar had neon lights and glass windows so those passing could see all the happenings in their bars. It felt like the Red Light District in Amsterdam, but with bars and greenery.
- Bars on bars – It was one bar after another after another, and they all looked almost exactly the same. I’m sure this is why they all had aggressive promoters outside their bars trying to get everyone walking by to go inside.
- For your entertainment – Almost all the bars had stages with either live music playing or pole dancers (very PG, maybe PG-13. It was closer to women dancing and a pole happening to be near them rather than what we would consider it in the West). The speakers were turned up so loud that it was almost impossible to have a conversation in a bar, which did force those in the bar to pay attention to the entertainment.
Curious how Beijing nightlife compares to that in Nanjing? Click here to find out!
~Paula O, MPP / MA