Shanghai

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 | Live Music

    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...Read More

  • 2. Cotton's

    French Concession | Bars/Pubs

    This friendly, laid-back favorite moved many times before settling into the current old garden house. Busy without being loud, Cotton's is a...Read More

  • 3. Cotton's

    Changning | Bars/Pubs

    ...Read More

  • 4. Epic

    French Concession | Bars/Pubs

    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...Read More

  • 5. Heyday

    French Concession | Live Music

    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...Read More

  • 6. JZ Club

    French Concession | Live Music

    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...Read More

  • 7. Senator Saloon

    French Concession | Piano Bars

    In true speakeasy style, this swinging spot is easy to miss, situated as it is behind an unmarked door on a quiet street. Step inside to travel...Read More

  • 8. Speak Low

    French Concession | Bars/Pubs

    This spot led Shanghai's speakeasy trend and continues to garner international acclaim with regular appearances on lists of the world's (and...Read More

  • 9. Union Trading Company

    French Concession | Bars/Pubs

    A local favorite, Union feels like a neighborhood pub but has the prices and service of a posh cocktail bar. The drink list includes 100-plus...Read More

  • 10. Cotton Club

    French Concession | Live Music

    A dark and smoky jazz and blues club, the Cotton Club is an institution in Shanghai, and still one of the best places to catch live music. It...Read More

  • 11. Eddy's

    French Concession | Bars/Pubs

    Flamboyant drag queen Eddy has had to move this gay bar around the city over the years, but it has found a more permanent home on this stretch...Read More

  • 12. The Apartment

    French Concession | Dance Clubs

    This bumping club is packed to the gills every weekend night with throngs of sweaty young dancers grinding up against one another to Top-40...Read More

  • 13. The Shelter

    French Concession | Dance Clubs

    Opened by a collective of Shanghai's leading DJs, this former bomb shelter is not for the claustrophobic. It is a favorite with Shanghai scenesters...Read More

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