The 10 Best Bars in Xujiahui, Shanghai
Xujiahui at night, Shanghai | © Johwanna Alleyne / Alamy Stock Photo
Xujiahui is one of the busiest, most exciting areas of Shanghai, home to an electric nightlife scene. Here are the 10 best bars to check out in the neighbourhood.
This area is tall and wide, with long avenues, intense junctions, and the city’s second-largest Metro station. It’s a real concrete jungle with a surprisingly deep history, and a great place to get lost in. While exploring, there are many fantastic bars to duck into and enjoy.
So popular is this bar among locals and expats that it’s now a chain, but it’s the original venue that maintains the best atmosphere. With its distinctive neon-blue bar area, Blue Frog doubles as a diner-style restaurant; serving burgers, pasta and sandwiches. Beloved by the expats who live and work in Xujiahui, the bar’s biggest appeal is its daily four-hour-long happy hour, where patrons can take their time enjoying cocktails or an imported beer. The bar also does a two-for-one offer on burgers every Monday.
One of the most well-known bars in Shanghai, Harley’s was a mainstay of the music scene for years, hosting regular underground rock gigs. In 2016, it received a makeover and now serves as more of a nightclub, though it does still host live rock music and has a stage for just that. Beyond the stage is a dancefloor for club nights and there’s an entirely separate room which functions as a sports bar, complete with dartboards and a pool table.
The LGBTQ community in China has yet to be afforded much legal protection. Yet socially and culturally, the scene in Shanghai is thriving. One of the most welcoming gay bars here is Rice Bar, a small lounge with a Japanese look and feel. The venue is quaint and kitsch; a place to make new friends or have drinks in a relaxed atmosphere. You’ll find an equal mix of Western and local patrons here, sipping on handmade cocktails and soaking up the fun.
The dive bar to kick every other to the curb, C’s is about cheap drinks and thumping music. Every inch of the walls is covered in graffiti, and the patrons come from all walks of life. Popular with younger crowds, C’s hosts EDM nights organised by local promoters. It’s often visited in the late hours on a bar crawl; when you get there, enjoy the cheapest beers in the city, and prepare to get home the morning after.
Bar, Restaurant, American, $$$
This lush green patio bar lights patrons a fire in the winter but otherwise, this outdoor hangout is great for balmy summer nights. Cotton’s wooden gates and canopy of trees draw guests in as they settle for a relaxed night with friends. This is the ideal Xujiahui spot for a romantic date, with a serene atmosphere that takes on tranquil tones as the sun sets.
Great for a cheap and fun night out, Koala has everything people look for in a good bar: a pool table, jukebox, burger menu and a theme (in this case, Australia). Opened by Australian immigrants and now run by a Norwegian fellow, Koala’s biggest draw is its cheap beer and daily happy hour. Even imported beers come as cheap as 35 RMB. One for the backpackers and those on a budget.
The Park Tavern
Bar, British, Beer
Nestled at the edge of Xujiahui Park, the Park Tavern is a must-visit for any Brit with a touch of homesickness. This proper British pub offers roast dinners, complete with Yorkshire puddings, and a range of wines, spirits and beers. Its interior perfectly matches that of your average British pub, with a wooden bar, leather chairs, a TV for international sports and a heated outdoor patio with candles on every bench and table. Spanning four levels and a garden, this is one of the best drinking and dining experiences in Shanghai.
Hotel Restaurant, Wine Bar, European, Chinese
On the first floor of the Courtyard Shanghai (a hotel owned by Marriott), this is a fantastic place if you’re looking for a slightly upmarket drinking and dining experience. This is a popular place for visitors to Shanghai to meet and drink, with a wide range of wines and spirits, and a selection of European and Chinese food options, including freshly-made bao.
Bar, Beer, Cocktails
On the northern edge of Xujiahui is Lucca (formerly known as 390). Hugely popular with gay immigrants, and admittedly drawing in more gay men than women, this is one of the best places in Shanghai to enjoy a drag show. There’s a small upstairs seating area for relaxed drinking, but the majority of the fun is to be had on the dancefloor, which boasts poles and thumping bubblegum pop.
Bar, Cocktails, Beer
Another excellent gay bar in Northern Xujiahui is Happiness 42. Warm red lighting bears down on visitors all through the night, as they sit on comfy sofas relaxing and catching up with friends. This makes for a perfect night out for LGBTQ travellers looking for a friendly atmosphere and delicious cocktails. Start your night here with a few drinks and end up at Lucca for dancing.
These recommendations were updated on July 4, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.