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Every Chinese village has at least one karaoke bar, every town has at least one nightclub and most big cities combine all facets of Chinese nightlife. Hong Kong features the highest cocktail bar in the world, Shanghai has plenty of jazz bars and trendy nightclubs, while Beijing is known for its operas. In short, wherever you find yourself in China, you’ll always find something to suit your party palate.
Chinese nightlife has it all; it is simply a matter of preference. In the large night clubs, keep in mind that it is customary to buy a ‘table for the night’ for a few hundred yuan. This usually comes with a bottled beverage, some fruit or snacks and personal service. If you are looking for something a little more low key, the many bars and shows provide a good alternative.
Hotels in Hong Kong habitually reserve their top floor for a cocktail bar, which offers panoramic views of the city. This all becomes even more spectacular when darkness falls and the city lights are turned on. Each hotel differs slightly from the next. While the M Bar in the Mandarin Oriental may only be on the 25th floor, its exclusive cocktails – with ingredients such as homemade rum butter, nutmeg and cinnamon – make the views of Victoria Harbour seem even more beautiful. OZONE, on the 118th floor of the Ritz-Carlton, is the highest bar in the world, and provides an unbelievable vista on clear nights. But there are great spots for a drink with a view at sea level too – Aqua Luna, a junk with red sails, will take you on a leisurely sail through the port while you sip your drink.
The Chinese skill at devising and directing performances was extensively demonstrated at the Olympic Games ceremonies in 2004 and 2008. The mind behind these performances was director Zhang Yimou, who is famous for the use of natural décors in his Impression shows. In one of his productions in the southern city of Yangshuo, spectators can enjoy a daily show of the lives and relationships of the fishermen and ethnic minorities with nature; this is acted out by 600 performers against the backdrop of 12 karst peaks – all on the water. Another of Zhang’s performances, enjoyed nationwide, shows hundreds of actors sailing, dancing and playing drums each evening on Hangzhou’s West Lake. Here, the history, myths and culture of Hangzhou are being portrayed.
The Xintiandi district in Shanghai consists of homes built a century and a half ago in the shikumen style, with grey bricks, black tiles and small courtyards. In Xintiandi, these ancient houses have been restored and converted to create a trendy neighbourhood of art galleries, boutiques, bars, cafés and restaurants. The area has become so cosy it’s been called Shanghai’s living room. This car-free district comes alive especially in the evenings, when the cafés fill up and music resounds over the squares and alleyways.