Located in the extreme west of central China, the city of Chengdu is a very prosperous regional hub with all of the modern, broad-ranging nighttime activities that one would expect of a successful metropolis of the size of Chengdu. In fact, the city's nightlife is on par with that of many of China's larger coastal cities.
Chengdu has traditionally been a city of active, culturally involved people who are fond of music, art and theatre (mainly Sichuan Opera). Sichuaners also have a long tradition of dining out, visiting tea houses and shopping at large, open-air markets, though today, much of this is being replaced by Western-inspired shopping malls, upmarket restaurants and the ubiquitous bars & night clubs where you can dance 'til you drop' or sing along to Japanese inspired karaoke.
In the following you can find out more about what Chengdu has to offer in the way of after-hours activities, with something to suit every taste, from cultural to recreational activities to nighttime forays to bars & night clubs, as well as visits to tea houses & coffee shops. Welcome to Chengdu after dark!
After the sun goes down you can get a real understanding of the Chinese concept of “yin and yang”. Buildings that during the day are filled with people empty out, but at night these buildings become dazzling electronic art displays. The rivers and many famous places are also brightly decorated with beautiful neon lights. Indeed even the traffic quiets down and you can find a calm place to rest. And if you are looking for exciting places to delve deep into the night, then here they are.
Chengdu enjoys a lively nightlife entertainment scene that offers something for just about everyone, from a secluded bar where you can enjoy a cultured conversation with your girlfriend or shoot a game of pool or snooker with a buddy, to karaoke bars where you can get tipsy and make a fool of yourself with no regrets the day after, to singles bars where the personnel pass messages back and forth between interested parties, to night clubs with live music ranging from Chinese pop to techno to hardcore Cantonese-Chinese rock.
In fact, Chengdu by night is becoming one of China's hottest cities for partygoers, partly – if not mainly – it is said, because Chengdu is at least an arm's length from the watchful eye of Beijing. Increasing numbers of Chinese people can afford a life in the fast lane, and in Chengdu they seem to be taking to it like ducks to water. Below is a representative list of night spots worth checking out (you'll have to find the addresses yourself).
Dave's Oasis – a popular British expat bar (Dave is a big fan of Chengdu opera)
Pub Street – not a bar's name, but a street full of pubs, located near the river, no pool or billiard tables, no live music, but a cool place to have a chat over a beer, or to get plastered and then take a swim in the nearby river
Dan Xing Dao ("One-Way Street") – a singles-only bar (hence the curious name) with a communications system that helps you to overcome your shyness: the personnel will pass on messages and telephone numbers; every table has pencils and noteblocks for this express purpose
Lotus Palace – a night club occupying two floors, with a bar and live music on the first floor, a second floor bar-restaurant for drinking, dining (they serve French style cuisine) and chatting, and an outdoor biergarten, weather permitting
Hongse Niandai ("Red Age") Club – a night club with restaurant, bar and disco hall, with raucous music, fashion shows and DJ competitions
MGM – Chengdu's de rigeur night club for serious partygoers. It has several sections, one with a live pop/ rock band, another playing techno music, one with light Chinese pop music, and one with hardcore Chinese-Cantonese rock, all of which have dance floors as well as table-and-chair arrangements
If you are into karaoke, Kakadu Club & Disco and the Meigaomei International Recreational Club, as well as the bars of most of the city's main hotels can satisfy your needs.
In addition, there is a special street – Jinli Street – that offers a little bit of everything in the way of nightlife, from tea houses to small, nook & cranny eateries to special crafts boutiques to ordinary bars and pubs, and Jinli Street also has a number of bed & breakfast establishments. The architecture and street lighting of Jinli Street is quaint – and most picturesque at dusk, it is said – adding to the charm of this unusual street.
Shamrocks is a popular American expat hangout with pool tables, rarely with a live band, but usually with a solo guitarist playing American folk-rock ballads on the weekends
This is undisputedly one of the most established Western-style bar/restaurants in Chengdu. This Irish pub has a sports bar kind of feeling. It is located just around the corner from the American consulate. Although it has a reputation for being a bar for the more “settled-down” crowd, this is still a nice place to go to meet new people and have interesting conversations. There are occasional theme parties and live bands.
This bar blurs the line between a Western-style bar and a Chinese-style bar. Don’t worry, you don’t need to buy an expensive bottle of liquor or a dozen beers at a time. Also you won’t find much dancing. There is loud music, but not to the point of “MAN! IT’S SO LOUD IN HERE!”. They have pool and foosball tables so this is another clear indicator that this is not a night club. Here you will a healthy mix of local and expat patrons. There is usually a DJ providing auditory entertainment, but this bar also hosts some live bands.
This is another bar a few steps away from a night club, but basically all that means is that it is more exciting than some of the other bars. It is relatively new so many new people go there to explore. They occasionally have live bands.
As the name suggests this bar has a more relaxed atmosphere. You’ll be pleasantly surprised if you choose one of the beers from the microbrewery. There are also some live bands that perform here on weekends.
This is the bar in Shangrila Hotel. There is sometimes a live band, but usually not any dancing. It is a good place to meet people and mix with a younger crowd.
Although this bar has quite the modest name, it has been one of the key places for Chinese rock. Over the years Little Bar has expanded and now has a total of three locations. Even though it doesn’t have live performances anymore it is worth checking out the original Little Bar. Nowadays the clientele is mostly Chinese, but it don’t be surprised if someone from the expat communities drops in.
This is definitely one of the best bars, but relatively unknown. It is a cozy little place to relax and chat with interesting people. The owner is a very friendly Dutchman. They sometimes have performances.