China seems to be a country often at war with its past. The cultural divide between the old style of life and the modern world is apparent throughout the usually conservative country, but a glaring contrast is the rollicking China nightlife, where one can drink and dance and sing in the bars, some of which are next door to ancient and austere looking temples.
As with most countries, the most exciting areas are often deep in the heart of urbanity—Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Macau do little to dispute this theory. Nightlife in Hong Kong is probably the most overwhelming of all China nightlife, its more modernized culture and historic ties to the rest of the world endows the city with a head start towards entertaining both locals and tourists from all over the globe. Though Hong Kong has countless bars and clubs for visitors (primarily in Kowloon), it is one of the few places in the country where fun comes at a price. Sure, it's not like Tokyo or London, but in comparison to the rest of China it can surprisingly expensive. Nightlife in Hong Kong reflects the region's past as a former trade post - many of the bars are British or Irish themed, with corresponding live music and bar food. There is also a great number of dance clubs here, spinning everything from reggae to house to Chinese pop. Nightlife in Hong Kong is spread evenly throughout three areas in Kowloon —you'll find the top nightclubs and expensive cocktail bars in Tsim Sha Tsui, most of the pubs on Ashley Road, and the rest on Prat and Chatham Roads.
Not far behind as far as nights on the town is the explosive city of Shanghai. In fact, there might be even more choices here than in Hong Kong. There is, however, no real center to Shanghai nightlife. It sprawls in the same way as the city does, with small pockets rising up every once in while. Many of the most popular bars and clubs are pretty hard to miss, but the best way to find something to do after dark is to consult an English newspaper or a trusted Shanghai resident. The closer you are to The Bund, the more drink and admission prices will skyrocket, so beware. The best clubs, of course, are near here, with the enigmatically named Real Love the choice Shanghai nightlife hot spot. For now, anyway. These things have a tendency to change.
Another of the best places for China nightlife is the area of Beijing called Sanlutin, also known as Bar Street. As you can probably guess, there's a theme to this section of town. The two main streets are Sanlutin Lu and Sanlutin Nanlu—the former is set up for tourists, the latter for locals and ex-pats. No matter which you prefer, there are plenty of options—a crawl done either one of these streets (or up one and down the other, for more experienced drinkers) will be provide enough beer to hold you over until closing time.
And these are just a few of the main cities for China nightlife. Every major town has at least a few places for you to choose from, though they will be unlikely to compare with the dizzying spectacle of Hong Kong or Shanghai nightlife.