Offerings range from world-class swank to dark and dingy dens or from places with young Shanghainese kids screaming experimental punk to Filipino cover bands singing "Hotel California" in a hotel basement. Prices range just as wildly.

The Former French Concession is full of small cocktail bars and speakeasies shrouded in varying degrees of secrecy. Farther east, The Bund is also a good place for upscale bars.

Nightlife streets are constantly changing, subject to government regulations, renovation plans, and the like. Just as there is a move to push restaurants into malls, there's also seemingly an initiative to concentrate bars and clubs where possible. Found 158 on Julu Lu on the edge of the Former French Concession is the major example of this, though areas like Xintiandi and Columbia Circle similarly boast clusters of places to go for a drink alongside their restaurants.

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  • 1. Shake

    French Concession

    Funk and soul supper club Shake hits exactly the right notes for a great night out. A curated lineup of guest artists alongside the club’s regular rotating resident singer and band put on quite the live show, belting out Motown classics and hits from the '60s and '70s. The cocktails are tasty, and the kitchen turns out excellent Asian-inspired contemporary dishes.

    46 Maoming Nan Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 2. Bandu Cabin


    Also known as Bandu Music, this unpretentious café and bar in the M50 art compound sells hard-to-find CDs and occasionally holds concerts of traditional Chinese folk music. When touring the M50 galleries, this is a nice place for a break.

    50 Moganshan Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200070, China
  • 3. Bar Rouge

    The Bund

    In the trendy Bund 18 complex, Bar Rouge has been the destination of choice among Shanghai's beautiful people for years. Pouting models, visiting celebrities, and, seemingly, all of the city's French expats are among the regular clientele. The Pudong views are knockout—as are the drink prices.

    18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200002, China
  • 4. Barbarossa

    City Center

    This is a popular evening destination especially with nearby office workers who come by for happy hour. The interior is straight out of Arabian Nights, with billowing draperies swathing the space. Usually quiet and classy, it switches to hot, hip, and hopping on weekend nights, especially in summer. It's the ambience, not the food or drink, that bring people in.

    231 Nanjing Xi Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200030, China
  • 5. Char

    The Bund

    Though somewhat dated, Hotel Indigo's rooftop bar and steak house is still a prime place to take in unimpeded views of the Pudong skyline and Huangpu River while sipping drinks and snacking from a charcuterie board for two.

    585 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200010, China
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  • 6. Constellation


    The fourth sibling in the ever-growing Constellation bar family is just south of Xintiandi, a stone's throw from the metro station. It sticks to a tried-and-true formula of cigars, mid-volume jazz, and high-quality Japanese-style cocktails.

    398 Zizhong Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200021, China
  • 7. Cotton's

    French Concession

    This friendly, laid-back favorite moved many times before settling into the current old garden house. Busy without being loud, Cotton's is a rare place where you can have a conversation with friends—or make some new ones. The patio here is one of Shanghai's loveliest, but the food menu is not, so stick to drinks.

    132 Anting Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200231, China

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Daily 11 am–2 am
  • 8. Cotton's

    Changning | Bars/Pubs

    294 Xinhua Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200231, China
  • 9. El Ocho


    Comfortable and welcoming, El Ocho is the kind of place where friends meet to catch up over unpretentious but exceptionally good (and smart) cocktails. It's spacious, with vaulted wooden ceilings, and has significant talent behind the bar.

    99 Taixing Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China
  • 10. Epic

    French Concession

    Housed on several levels of an old lane house, this intimate cocktail bar feels perfectly Shanghai—a contrast of old and new, with forward-thinking drinks in a traditional setting. Cocktails are intricate without being pretentious, and you'll have trouble only stopping at one.

    17 Gaoyou Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China
  • 11. Flair


    The view here can only be described as jaw-dropping. The open-air bar on the 58th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Pudong sits you so close to the Oriental Pearl Tower that you could almost touch it. You'll pay for the sight of Shanghai laid out before you, with pricey cocktails and a minimum spend for tables on the terrace, but it's worth coming at least for one drink.

    8 Shiji Dadao, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China
  • 12. Glam

    The Bund

    Glam attracts a well-heeled crowd of media types, intellectuals, and artists with its idiosyncratic design, its creative cocktails that include customizable gin and tonics, its casual, lounge-food menu (try the truffle cheese toasties), and its occasional film screenings or other cultural offerings. It's a welcome retreat from the busy Bund; it's also across from its sister restaurant, M.

    20 Guangdong Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China
  • 13. Haoledi

    City Center

    Crowded at all hours with locals of all ages crooning pop favorites, the popular Haoledi chain has branches virtually everywhere. A few of the outlets in downtown are on the sixth floor of New World Mall at 479 Nanjing Dong Lu, near People's Square, and on the seventh floor of mall Metro City, at 1111 Zhaojiabang Lu in Xujiahui.

    438 Huaihai Zhong Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200020, China
  • 14. Heyday

    French Concession

    There's not a bad seat to be had at this intimate jazz-club gem, tucked on a quiet street. A vintage feel and great drinks complement nightly performances by local, expat, and international acts.

    50 Taian Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China
  • 15. House of Blues and Jazz

    The Bund

    Several music sets nightly and loads of ambience—dark-wood paneling, low-lighting, memorabilia from 1930s Shanghai—make the House of Blues and Jazz a must visit.

    60 Fuzhou Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200001, China
  • 16. Jade on 36


    This swanky spot in the newer tower of the Pudong Shangri-La offers decent cocktails, but it's the excellent design and equally excellent views (when Shanghai's fog and pollution levels cooperate) that make it popular with locals. You may still feel like you're in a hotel bar, but you'll have a stiff drink and some amazing city vistas.

    33 Fucheng, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200120, China
  • 17. Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai

    The Bund

    Just off the Bund, the Shanghai outpost of New York City's famed Jazz at Lincoln Center venue doesn't drip with the local history that places like Peace Hotel do. Its musical programming is excellent, though, so it's worth checking the schedule if you like jazz.

    139 Nanjing Dong Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 18. JZ Club

    French Concession

    At the king of Shanghai's jazz offerings, house bands and stellar guest performers mix it up nightly. Look for plush seating and drink prices to match. JZ Club is also the organizer of JZ Festival, which they claim is Asia's largest jazz fest. It takes place in the fall and outdoors along the Huangpu River.

    158 Julu Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200021, China
  • 19. Lai Lai Dancehall


    This is one of Shanghai's gems, a sweet, simple dance hall where local men can come three nights a week and dance to tender Chinese pop songs from an earlier time. Songs are played by a band, which sometimes dresses in drag, as does one of the owners. There are a number of regulars, and strangers aren't shy about asking for a dance, but it's all quite chaste. Foreigners are most welcome and treated no differently than locals. In general, photos are not allowed.

    235 Anguo Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200082, China

    Nightlife Details

    Rate Includes: Y10, Fri.–Sun. 6–9 pm
  • 20. M1NT

    The Bund

    Two-parts club, one part bar, M1NT is one of the few places in Shanghai with a strict door policy. The club is on the 24th floor of an office tower situated on a quiet side street just behind the Bund. There's no set dress code, but men should not wear shorts. Although bottle service is popular, plenty of revelers stick to buying drinks and shots from the bar, whose lines can be three deep. The shark tank is partiers' favorite photo backdrop.

    318 Fuzhou Lu, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, 200000, China

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