Fashionable and prosperous Chengdu has no shortage of nightlife spots, from alternative riverside watering holes to luxurious wine bars. Here are 10 of the best bars to get a taste of the Chinese city’s nightlife.
The artsy Music House bar and club, in Chengdu’s trendy Lan Kwai Fong shopping district, is the place to go for live Chinese and international music. The bar is open seven days a week, with a different live act every night. Previous guest performers have included a diverse selection of groups including the French post-rock band Microfilm, and Chinese talent Luo Dayou. The crowd at Music House usually includes a few local celebrities, making this a great people-watching spot. The cocktail menu is also among the most extensive in the city.
The Beer Nest specializes in craft and imported beers, including a rare craft brew from Beijing. Excellent snacks and casual dining are also on offer here, with burgers, Belgian-style fries, an ale and beef stew, and even a small children’s menu. Groups can request special items like whole roasted chicken and mussels before visiting. There are also promotions almost every night, like the moules frites and white wine set on Wednesdays, or Belgian Saturdays where Belgian beers are on tap for reduced prices.
The Bookworm combines a library, bar, restaurant, and bookstore, and frequently hosts musical and literary events. The bar has a decent wine list, as well as many imported beers, and the snacks menu includes surprises like the cheeseburger dumplings (a cross between a cheeseburger and Chinese potsticker). Come here to mingle with Chengdu’s intellectuals and artists, or simply to enjoy a book and some live jazz.
The Little Bar, which was originally housed in a tiny venue in Yulin district, has been the center of Chengdu’s rock music scene for years. Upcoming performances include gigs by Chinese hardcore band Noise Gate, and British metalcore group While She Sleeps. The new venue is still relatively small, so be prepared for a seriously packed bar on weekends and during sold out concerts. Entrance costs anything from 30 to 100 yuan.
Jing Jie is located on the popular Jiuyanqiao Bar Street, one of Chengdu’s nightlife hubs. The bars on Jiuyanqiao tend to be small, intimate spaces, with excellent live music and relaxed atmospheres. Jing Jie was one of the first establishments to open in the area, more than a decade ago, and remains a favorite spot for locals to relax on the terrace or play Chinese drinking games.
Jah Bar is an affordable down-to-earth bar that hosts regular jam sessions, and is frequented by Chengdu’s alternative, indie and reggae music fans. In the summer, the bar’s riverside location makes it an ideal place for chatting with friends and enjoying a beer on Jah’s many bamboo benches. Red tea, egg pancakes and a special house recipe fried rice are also available for hungry patrons.
For a more sophisticated evening, head to Mooney’s Bar, which is part of the Shangri-la Hotel Chengdu. A live band plays every night, and Thursday is one of Chengdu’s most popular ladies’ nights. There is also a barbecue buffet, and themed parties fortnightly. Take note that Mooney’s has a smoking section, which results in quite a bit of smoke throughout the entire bar.
8trees scores major points for its great ambience. The stained glass windows, wood-panelled walls, painted lanterns and green outdoor seating area are perfect for a date or quiet conversation. The wine list tends to favor French wines, mostly sold by the bottle, and the restaurant menu is definitely worth looking at, with items like escargot, Southeast Asian curries, and steak.
A cocktail bar open very late into the night, Jellyfish attracts local and international patrons from all walks of life thanks to its crowd-pleasing combination of expert mixology, pool table, and in-house DJ. Head bartender Yoni will make you any classic drink you ask for, or recommend one of his own creations if you are feeling adventurous.
Machu Picchu started out as a small, cosy venue in the Yulin neighborhood, where patrons enjoyed Czech Budweiser (far superior to the American version) and the friendly company of owners Hise and Zhoufei surrounded by framed prints and posters of South American landmarks. The bar has now expanded into a second building, in the same area, that hosts live music, a foosball table, and large board game selection.