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Dancing between Heaven and Earth

Like many other Chinese cities, the Shanghai nightlife centres around a few districts that offer a wide range of entertainment. Cafes and bars are always packed. Large nightclubs host world famous DJs and organise special theme nights. Make sure you check the entertainment listings for the best options.

One of the most popular entertainment districts is Xintiandi, which literally means ‘New heaven and earth’. At the start of the 20th century most Shanghai residents lived in ‘shikumen’, traditional houses in gated communities. Many shikumen have had to give way to modern high rises but in Xintiandi they have been preserved and a new purpose found. After a spectacular transformation, this area has turned into a trendy entertainment district with art galleries, bars and restaurants.

The Xintiandi district against the Luwan skyline
The Xintiandi district against the Luwan skyline

Shanghai

Until nightfall

Xintiandi also offers plenty of daytime attractions. The neighbourhood features many excellent shops. From shopping centres that display deluxe international fashion labels and the latest collections by talented Asian designers, to beautiful China shops, small hat shops and jewellers. Shopping aficionados will love the Shanghai Trio: a small store that sells one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories in traditional and modern Chinese styles. This is the perfect place to find a special souvenir. Also stop by Shanghai Tang. This famous Chinese fashion house has a beautiful store in Xintiandi. Shanghai Tang is one of the most luxurious Chinese lifestyle brands and stands out for its bright colours and a typical ‘touch of China’ in each piece of clothing. For a stylish bite to eat, head to the Shanghai Tang restaurant on the second floor of the building across from the shop. To kick off the evening, go up one more floor to the Shanghai Tang Cafe for a Shanghaitini, a martini with a hint of Shanghai.

Shanghai Tang window display
Xintiandi, where past and future converge today

And then there was music

When night falls in Xintiandi, the music is turned up. The neighbourhood is known for its international influences, especially when it comes to music. Brown Sugar, one of the most popular nightclubs, plays a variety of music styles: from R&B and hip hop to world music and jazz. Live performances really get the diverse crowd grooving. Things are a little more low-key at People 7, which is not surprising considering its rather mysterious entrance. It’s quite a puzzle to even open the door. Inside you find a trendy lounge bar where you can savour the most interesting cocktails in town, served in a test-tube...

Nightfall

Photo credits

  • Shanghai Tang window display: Choo Yut Shing, Flickr
  • Xintiandi, where past and future converge today: SimonQ, Flickr
  • Nightfall: jay.tong, Flickr