Like in many areas in China, going out at night to drink alcohol is not yet the obvious choice for nightlife for the local population. Traditionally, nightlife consists of dinner or other types of dining, walking around West Lake, karaoke singing such as at Party World for an opulent experience, and going to parks or other public places to enjoy each other’s company. However, a growing number of young people take after Western culture and are now enjoying the aspects of nightlife mixed with alcohol.
At this time, Hangzhou is one of the best places to hear live music in China and there are often impromptu music sessions on the streets or in venues throughout the city. This is because Hangzhou is home to a solid number of international students, whose influence and preferences are mixed with the local culture.
For those looking for a more quiet nightlife scene, visit one of the top hotels in Hangzhou such as the Shangri-La and more for regular scheduled events. These hotels are also ideal places to meet like-minded travelers.
Generally speaking, the top bars for visitors and international travelers can be found on Nanshan Road in Hangzhou. On Nanshan Road it is very easy to start bar hopping. There are also some watering holes on Shuguang Road, which runs north from the northwest corner of West Lake, where the environment is less hectic.
Below are some of the most popular bars and nightlight hot spots, even though these places often change as the nature of the most chic hangouts tend to do.
• Maya Bar
Simple sometimes gets the job done. Maya Bar has long been the favorite spot for locals and especially foreigners alike. People of all ages and backgrounds congregate here to enjoy good music, a basic but dependable bar menu with comfortable prices, large and strong drink servings, and a good time. Maya Bar is a great place to start your night or to keep the party going with your friends. It’s not too loud so your conversations are not interrupted.
Address: 94 Baishaquan, Shuguang Rd
• Reggae Bar (also known as Hei Gen Jiu Ba)
In many ways, Reggae Bar is like your favorite dive bar back home and remains a Hangzhou favorite. It is small, cozy, and casual. The reggae music and visual theme make for a consistent combination, although the music also alternates with hip hop, rock, and rap as the hours roll on. The audience tends to be more towards foreigners with a fine mix of locals, with a menu that is English and that offers imported drinks. There is plenty of space at the large Reggae Bar, enough for all your friends.
Address: Xueyuan Road
• The Traveler
If you are interested in rock music, then The Traveler may be come your go-to spot. It is quieter and more elegant than a lot of other places, though the music will still keep you entertained all night. There is a free pool table and mezzanine with more seating when the inside of the bar gets too cramped.
Address: 176, Shuguang Road, Xihu District
• You To
Found on a quieter stretch of road, You To is a very popular countryside bar more for lounging with a nice drink after a long day. Because it is lower key, the bar is often packed with patrons. It is one of the most successful bars in Hangzhou with a pleasant atmosphere and fun, friendly staff.
Address: 85 Shuguang Road, Xihu Distruct
• Shamrock Irish Pub
The foreign-owned Shamrock bar is a bit like a sports bar. It is a great place for English-speaking patrons to feel like they are at home, with a nice pub style food menu and live music often on weeknights. There are 2 free pool tables and 5 beers on tap.
Address: 70 Middle Zhong Shan Road close to He Fang Jie
• Hong Fang Bar
If a Happy Hour style bar is more your place, then visit Hong Fang bar. The drinks are cheap even by Chinese standards, and the atmosphere seems to have survived the cruel twists of time as well. Drinking games are welcome here and the clientele is friendly.
Address: 6 Liuying Road, Shangcheng District
• JZ Club
For a classy, jazz joint, visit the 2-story JZ Club in Hangzhou which hosts live jazz shows every night along with a wide range of drinks such as beer and wine, and cocktails. It is a small but beloved locale where the prices are good and the music even better.
Address: 6 Liuying Lu
• Night & Day
Who knew salsa could be found in China? At Night & Day Latin dance club, visitors get the chance to move with the music especially salsa and merengue, regardless if you are an amateur or professional. Dancing and music is mostly downstairs with a more lounge-like bar upstairs. The joint is also just across from West Lake, so many people dress well to be seen here. Delicious Western food can be found on the menu. Drinks are a bit higher in price than at other locations.
Address: 240 Nanshan Lu, near Xihu Da Dao
• Code Space
Found in downtown Hangzhou, Code Space is a large and rocking dance hall with a modern, impressive sound system and artsy crowd. You can often find top Chinese rock performances here when the stage is not occupied by electronic dance parties and indie film screenings. TED talks and board game enthusiasts share the space equally as well.
Address: 177 Huancheng Bei Lu, No. 5 Building, East Building, 1F
Other nightlight locations you might like:
• Cool Bar – found on West Lake Avenue by Wushan Square has cheap imported beers
• 1944 – cheap drinks with quiet live music and a chill atmosphere
• 7 Club – a small local pub popular with expats a foreign students due to its selection of rare imported beers
• Casablanca – located on the West Lake, it is another fine place to spend an evening
• Elements – an electronic dance club for the most dedicated and fashion-minded partygoers
• Friends Jazz Bar – cheaper than JZ Club for jazz, the music is good and the staff is friendly, making it a down-to-earth place to pass the night
• Hill Street Bar – this tastefully decorated bar has reasonably priced drinks and international coffees, with Japanese cuisine and western pizzas all on the same menu; live music is common