Offerings range from world-class swank to dark and dingy dens or from places with young Shanghainese kids screaming experimental punk to Filipino cover bands singing "Hotel California" in a hotel basement. Prices range just as wildly.

The Former French Concession is full of small cocktail bars and speakeasies shrouded in varying degrees of secrecy. Farther east, The Bund is also a good place for upscale bars.

Nightlife streets are constantly changing, subject to government regulations, renovation plans, and the like. Just as there is a move to push restaurants into malls, there's also seemingly an initiative to concentrate bars and clubs where possible. Found 158 on Julu Lu on the edge of the Former French Concession is the major example of this, though areas like Xintiandi and Columbia Circle similarly boast clusters of places to go for a drink alongside their restaurants.

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  • 1. Shake

    French Concession | Live Music

    Funk and soul supper club Shake hits exactly the right notes for a great night out. A curated lineup of guest artists alongside the club’s regular...Read More

  • 2. Bandu Cabin

    Putuo | Live Music

    Also known as Bandu Music, this unpretentious café and bar in the M50 art compound sells hard-to-find CDs and occasionally holds concerts of...Read More

  • 3. Bar Rouge

    The Bund | Bars/Pubs

    In the trendy Bund 18 complex, Bar Rouge has been the destination of choice among Shanghai's beautiful people for years. Pouting models, visiting...Read More

  • 4. Barbarossa

    City Center | Bars/Pubs

    This is a popular evening destination especially with nearby office workers who come by for happy hour. The interior is straight out of Arabian...Read More

  • 5. Char

    The Bund | Bars/Pubs

    Though somewhat dated, Hotel Indigo's rooftop bar and steak house is still a prime place to take in unimpeded views of the Pudong skyline and...Read More

  • 6. Constellation

    Xintiandi | Bars/Pubs

    The fourth sibling in the ever-growing Constellation bar family is just south of Xintiandi, a stone's throw from the metro station. It sticks...Read More

  • 7. Cotton's

    Changning | Bars/Pubs

    ...Read More

  • 8. Cotton's

    French Concession | Bars/Pubs

    This friendly, laid-back favorite moved many times before settling into the current old garden house. Busy without being loud, Cotton's is a...Read More

  • 9. El Ocho

    Jing'an | Bars/Pubs

    Comfortable and welcoming, El Ocho is the kind of place where friends meet to catch up over unpretentious but exceptionally good (and smart...Read More

  • 10. Epic

    French Concession | Bars/Pubs

    Housed on several levels of an old lane house, this intimate cocktail bar feels perfectly Shanghai—a contrast of old and new, with forward-thinking...Read More

  • 11. Flair

    Pudong | Bars/Pubs

    The view here can only be described as jaw-dropping. The open-air bar on the 58th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Pudong sits you so close to the...Read More

  • 12. Glam

    The Bund | Nightlife Overview

    Glam attracts a well-heeled crowd of media types, intellectuals, and artists with its idiosyncratic design, its creative cocktails that include...Read More

  • 13. Haoledi

    City Center | Bars/Pubs

    Crowded at all hours with locals of all ages crooning pop favorites, the popular Haoledi chain has branches virtually everywhere. A few of the...Read More

  • 14. Heyday

    French Concession | Live Music

    There's not a bad seat to be had at this intimate jazz-club gem, tucked on a quiet street. A vintage feel and great drinks complement nightly...Read More

  • 15. House of Blues and Jazz

    The Bund | Live Music

    Several music sets nightly and loads of ambience—dark-wood paneling, low-lighting, memorabilia from 1930s Shanghai—make the House of Blues and...Read More

  • 16. Jade on 36

    Pudong | Bars/Pubs

    This swanky spot in the newer tower of the Pudong Shangri-La offers decent cocktails, but it's the excellent design and equally excellent views...Read More

  • 17. Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai

    The Bund | Live Music

    Just off the Bund, the Shanghai outpost of New York City's famed Jazz at Lincoln Center venue doesn't drip with the local history that places...Read More

  • 18. JZ Club

    French Concession | Live Music

    At the king of Shanghai's jazz offerings, house bands and stellar guest performers mix it up nightly. Look for plush seating and drink prices...Read More

  • 19. Lai Lai Dancehall

    Hongkou | Dance Clubs

    This is one of Shanghai's gems, a sweet, simple dance hall where local men can come three nights a week and dance to tender Chinese pop songs...Read More

  • 20. M1NT

    The Bund | Dance Clubs

    Two-parts club, one part bar, M1NT is one of the few places in Shanghai with a strict door policy. The club is on the 24th floor of an office...Read More

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