Shanghai

Best Bars in

Shanghai
Pearl of the Orient and Paris of the East, Shanghai was dragged through a string of invasions and occupations throughout its history. This created a wild city of opium dens, underground gambling joints, brothels, gangsters and decadence, all brought to an abrupt end by the grip of Communist rule in the late 1940s.

Today, Shanghai is China’s largest city, housing over 24 million inhabitants in 16 districts. It is also the country’s wealthiest, alongside Beijing. And it is now home to a new kind of decadence, one made of glitz and glam and luxurious excess. While the prospect of exploring this huge, 6000+ square kilometer megalopolis might seem daunting, rest assured! As far as great bars and nightlife go, this handy guide is just what you need.

The obvious place to start is the Bund. Located in the bustling Huangpu district, this was the chicest place in town back in the early 1900s, and remains the most emblematic part of the city to this day. The scenic waterfront promenade boasts some stunning neoclassical, baroque and art deco architecture, with a breathtaking view on the futuristic Pudong skyline right across the river. Come for the major Instagram points, stay for the iconic hotels, cocktail bars and nightclubs, all well worth the experience… and the price.

Huangpu is also home to some important cultural venues, such as the Shanghai Museum and Shanghai Concert Hall, as well as one of the world’s busiest shopping streets, Nanjing Road. When exploring this central district, make sure you check out the Former French Concession, or FFC, as well. Loved by expats, it is arguably one of the nicest places to live in Shanghai. Its quaint, tree-lined streets are much quieter than the rest of Shanghai, with gorgeous mansions and well-preserved Shikumen townhouses giving the area a very special charm. The neighborhood is packed with stylish boutiques and art galleries as well as high-end restaurants, trendy cafes, cozy live music venues, and some of the city’s coolest bars.

Next up, adjoining district Jing’an another trendy, Western-friendly area with great architecture and lots of historic sites, such as its namesake golden-roofed temple housing a large Buddha statue made of jade. You’ll find a wide choice of malls, shops, wine and cocktail bars, hip cafes and lively Shanghainese eateries, often with friendlier prices than the French Concession.

Finally, just a stone’s throw away is Xintiandi, a vibrant and fashionable pedestrian district blending mid-19th century charm and 21st century lifestyle by way of its antique walls, tiles and Shikumen lanes with modern architecture on the inside. This affluent shopping, dining and entertainment hotspot is home to a multitude of luxury boutiques, upscale international restaurants and trendy bars frequented by affluent locals and expats, making it a great location for daytime strolling and people-watching. When nighttime settles in, watch as the charming outdoor terraces fill up with people enjoying alfresco cocktails after a long day of shopping.

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