Beijing nightlife is extremely exciting. Locals and tourists occupy bars and restaurants, some of which are located inside famed skyscrapers. Travelers get a glimpse of traditional Beijing arts such as shadow play and Peking opera while others participate in the nightly street markets or even night tours.
What to See
Peking Opera: To say that Peking opera is grand is an understatement. It’s a walk through Beijing’s and even China’s very long and incredible history. It narrates myths, fables, and factual stories of emperors and wars through a series of dances, songs, mimes, actions, and even acrobat performances.
Though Chinese opera, especially Peking opera, is performed in other parts of the world, Beijing offers something more authentic. It’s held in tea houses and theaters whose age can span more than 50 years. The performers take the time to learn and master their craft; virtually all of them come from the opera school. There’s a certain level of discipline and hierarchy, with the male leads called sheng and their female counterparts dan.
Kung Fu: Who isn’t familiar with the Chinese martial arts? Actors such as Bruce Lee, Sammy Hung, Donnie Yen, and Jackie Chan bring to the spotlight Chinese martial arts such as kung fu, qigong, and wushu. Fortunately despite the increase of popularity of modern contact sports, these three martial arts are still very much alive from where they come from, such as Beijing.
For example, visitors may be able to catch kung fu performances in parks and other open spaces. Sometimes they are performed during public holidays and Beijing’s other special occasions. At night theaters host kung fu shows, which are made even more entertaining by adding concepts, settings, or stories.
Acrobatic Shows: While the United States has Cirque de Soleil, Beijing has the famous acrobatic shows performed by some of the most flexible daredevils in the area. Often referred to as troupes, they make use of special pieces of equipment such as unicycles and harnesses to perform their routines either on the floor or on the air. Their entire show doesn’t have to revolve around a single theme but merely a showcase of their agility, bravery, and flexibility. Normally an acrobat show lasts for two to three hours.
Shadow Play: One of the most important local performances you should never fail to catch is the shadow play. Over the years, the government and its entertainment and arts group are working hard to ensure this age-old tradition doesn’t die by teaching others how to do it. The real shadow play is composed of created characters made from the hide of a donkey. The story revolves around tales and snippets of the city’s history, told not really to impart a lesson but to entertain the audience.
Modern Nightlife: As Beijing becomes more open to Western culture and lifestyle, its nightlife is also modified. Today you’ll come across a variety of bars, cafes, and restaurants, which are open until the wee hours of the morning. They are very popular not only among the locals but also among the expats. Modern music such as hip-hop, pop, and R&B fill every corner of the room, while beers and cocktails, among others, are overflowing. A lot of these bars feature DJs, some of whom have been flown from other well-known progressive cities such as London and the United States. There are also establishments that are thematic, such as a lounge with Latin music and food.
Where to Go
Donghuamen Night Market
Chinese Name: 东华门夜市
Address: Dong Hua Men Avenue, Fu Jing Avenue, Beijing, China
Operating Hours: 24 hours, busiest at late at night
Wangfujing Night Market
Chinese Name: 王府井夜市
Address: WangFuJing, Dong Cheng Qu, Beijing, China
Operating Hours: 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Hongqiao Pearl Market
Chinese Name: 虹桥珍珠市场
Address: Hongqiao Lu, near Temple of Heaven
Operating Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Chinese Name: 丝绸市场
Address: Jiangquomen Waidajie, Beijing
Lao She Cha Guan
Chinese Name: 老舍茶馆
Address: Qianmen West Street, Xicheng, Beijing
Chinese Name: 五福茶馆
Address: No.3-7, Fuchengmenwai Dajie, Xicheng District
Operating Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Chinese Name: 广茶馆
Address: Yiyuan, Anhui Beili, Chaoyang District
Chinese Name: 胡同
Address: G 1 Jing Ha Gao Su, Dongcheng, Beijing, China
Chinese Name: 傅Linjiuge
Address: Deshengmen Inner St, Xicheng, Beijing, China
Chinese Name: 梨园剧场
Address: Xicheng District, Forbidden City, Beijing
Changan Grand Theater
Chinese Name: 长安大戏院
Address: 7 Jianguomen Inner St, Dongcheng, Beijing, China
Huguang Guild Hall
Chinese Name: 湖广会馆
Address: Hufang Lu 3, Beijing, China
Zhengyici Peking Opera Theatre
Chinese Name: 正乙祠京剧院
Address: No. 220 West Riverside Avenue, Xuanwu District, Beijing
Chinese Name: 红剧场
Address: No. 44 Xingfu Da Jie, Beijing
Chinese Name: 天地剧院
Address: No.10 Dongzhimen Nandajie, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Operating Hours: 7:15 p.m.
Bars, Restaurants, and Cafes
Black Sesame Kitchen
Chinese Name: 黑芝麻厨房
Address: 3 Heizhima Hutong, Dongcheng, Beijing, China
Operating Hours: 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Chinese Name: 寺餐厅
Address: 23 Shatan Houjie,Dongcheng District
Operating Hours: 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (Monday to Saturday)
Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant
Chinese Name: 全聚德烤鸭店
Address:No.14, Xidajie, Qianmen, Xuanwe District, Beijing
Operating Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Chinese Name: 巧克力
Address: 19 Ritan North Rd, Chaoyang, Beijing, China