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. Bar Rouge

    The Bund | Bars/Pubs

    In the trendy Bund 18 complex, Bar Rouge has been the destination of choice among Shanghai's beautiful people for years. Pouting models, visiting...Read More

  • 2. Barbarossa

    City Center | Bars/Pubs

    This is a popular evening destination especially with nearby office workers who come by for happy hour. The interior is straight out of Arabian...Read More

  • 3. Char

    The Bund | Bars/Pubs

    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...Read More

  • 4. Constellation

    Xintiandi | Bars/Pubs

    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...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Cotton's

    Changning | Bars/Pubs

    ...Read More

  • 7. El Ocho

    Jing'an | Bars/Pubs

    Comfortable and welcoming, El Ocho is the kind of place where friends meet to catch up over unpretentious but exceptionally good (and smart...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Flair

    Pudong | Bars/Pubs

    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...Read More

  • 10. Haoledi

    City Center | Bars/Pubs

    Crowded at all hours with locals of all ages crooning pop favorites, the popular Haoledi chain has branches virtually everywhere. A few of the...Read More

  • 11. Jade on 36

    Pudong | Bars/Pubs

    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...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. The Cannery

    Jing'an | Bars/Pubs

    Equal parts bar and restaurant, this hip gastrolounge appeals to a clientele that ranges from trendy young Chinese and foreigners to old-school...Read More

  • 14. The Zuk Bar


    A hotel bar that doesn't feel like a "hotel bar," this petite spot has a pared back, minimalist, black-and-white tile interior with just a few...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 390 Bar

    Changning | Bars/Pubs

    Shanghai's only gay live music venue, 390 bar is also popular with Shanghai's straight club-goers. The decor is outrageous and flaming, perfect...Read More

  • 17. Cashbox Party World

    City Center | Bars/Pubs

    This giant establishment is one of Shanghai's most popular Karaoke TV (KTV) bars, and among the few that are dedicated to KTV instead of KTV...Read More

  • 18. 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

  • 19. Kaiba

    Jing'an | Bars/Pubs

    Unpretentious and free of frills, Kaiba is the ideal neighborhood bar. It's been around for ages, serving Belgian brews and a few other imports...Read More

  • 20. Rhumerie Bounty

    Jing'an | Bars/Pubs

    A private-themed rum bar that hits just the right note when it comes to decor. The drink of choice here is Havana Club that's been soaked with...Read More

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