Beijing's best bars for getting to know the city, meet the right people, and enjoy your stay in the capital

About 10Best's recommendations for Beijing's Best Bars:

10Best searched far and wide before ranking these bars as the best in Beijing. How'd they earn their way on the list? Beer selection, specialty cocktails, cool aesthetics, great music, hip crowds-- we consider it all before deciding which ones belong on a list of Beijing's Best Bars.

For a truly Beijing experience head to Hou Hai Lake, in central Beijing. This lake is surrounded in fun, cheap local bars and a few nice exceptions, like 15 Qianhai Beiyan. You'll be able to watch the sun set over the lake if you arrive early, or sit and watch the pedestrians stroll arm in arm under the moonlight and haze as the evening wanes.

Bed Bar and Centro are two of the more high end options in town, where you'll see some of the city's most dazzling people in their most amazing attire. Of course, this being Beijing the range of folks who frequent these high-end establishments can be vast. Slip into something sexy for Centro, and something nice but comfy for the lounges at Bed Bar and you'll fit right in.

Paddy O'Shea's, Drum and Bell and Poacher's Inn are all low-key backpacker bars where you'll find other travelers swapping stories of life on the road as they down cheap Tsingtao bottles and even a few bar nuts. Keep the conversations rolling as the warm beers are served late into the night.

For wine fanatics, Aria is one of the best in town, but Room 101 is another cellar option where you'll find they really know their vines.


Paddy O'Shea's

An authentic friendly Irish pub for aficionados of Guinness on tap and whiskey. Always seems to be lively. With its high ceiling and long bar with cozy stools, this is where many Beijing expats enjoy whiling away the evening. Also has pool and live sports events on large screen. Happy hour 3-7pm with 30% off all drinks. Free trivia every Wednesday from 8pm includes decent prizes, free booze for winners and of course a bit of the comedy that makes Paddy's owner Karl Long such a feature in the Beijing community. For a rowdy, fun experience Paddy's is one of the best places in town for a memorable experience.

Local Expert tip: The city's most rowdy, lively and upbeat Irish bar.

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A sophisticated jazz bar that serves up great champagne cocktails and offers a wide selection of fine imported wines. Set as a split-level restaurant and bar, this is an excellent choice for a quiet business meeting or a civilized night listening to live jazz music. For a hig-end, exotic wine experience you'll find nothing more impressive and awe inspiring than Aria Jazz and Wine Bar. The wine list is impressive and covers a range of imports from around the best wine regions. You'll also find the service and stock to be of Western quality. Arrive early for a sundowner's paradise.

Local Expert tip: The city's premiere wine bar.

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Xi Cheng District

Known to locals and expats as Bai Feng's, this is certainly one of the city's most happening bars. The No Name Bar overlooks Lake Houhai and is elegantly outfitted with plants, funky decor and wicker furniture. Ideal spot for an evening cocktail and meeting interesting folks. Houhai Lake, located in central Beijing just above the Forbidden City, offers one of the most convenient places to launch a pub crawl including nearby Gulou and Nanluoguxiang in the lovely Beijing hutongs. You can explore the delightful hutongs that Beijing is famous for along your pub crawl and still experience some of the city's more impressive bars and pubs.

Local Expert tip: A quiet, popular date spot, No Name Bar is ideal for the romantic at heart.

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A popular hangout for the young and promiscuous. Dance, disco, pop and techno is the main diet here. Bar Blu frequently hosts theme nights, so you should call beforehand to check what's going on. Happy Hour 5 - 9 and Ladies Nights on Fridays and Saturdays. Bar Blu also has a lovely refreshing roof terrace. Recently renovated, Bar Blu now covers several floors and is home to a decent buffet, loads of new cocktails, VIP service and of course one of the city's best dance floors. You'll find a mix of folks at all hours of the day at Bar Blu, but beware of sleazy dudes late at night.

Local Expert tip: Discounts every night of the week, sign up for the VIP card.

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Drum and Bell Bar
Photo courtesy of Drum and Bell

As much a cozy cafe as a bar. Overlooking the courtyard between the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower, this rooftop bar is hidden down a hutong (alleyway). The Drum and Bell is difficult to find, but worth the search. Offers great views over this part of the city. In winter there are coal stoves to keep you warm. Local draft beers available. On Sundays you'll find an amazing all-you-can-drink special for RMB50 ($7) with real alcohol. Gin and Tonics, Vodka cokes, and many other cocktail options make this a fun way to spend your Sunday as you look out over the Drum and Bell towers and watch the rickshaws go by.

Local Expert tip: Sunday has an all-you-can-drink special for RMB50!

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Room 101
Photo courtesy of Room 101

A very tasteful cellar bar with a refined and distinct French feeling. Room 101 offers good service and a fine selection of wines and liqueurs, as well as European draft beers. Despite the "open 24 hours" theme, the bar is often very quiet. A good meeting place for a quiet drink in the evenings. For a mixed group, this place is ideal because if offers a delightful wine selection, imported beers and a few cocktails. No matter what your drink preference you'll find a drink for everyone in your group at Room 101. With 24 hour service, you'll be able to enjoy the selection anytime.

Local Expert tip: For wine, there are few better selections in the Jing.

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Poachers Inn
Photo courtesy of Poacher's Inn

A backpackers' bar that attracts lots of young expats, Poachers is an English-style pub with cheap drinks and a lively atmosphere. During weekends it gets very busy, and they like to crank up the music and take it into the wee hours. For travelers, there are few greater places for swapping stories about your time on the road and telling your favorite traveling tale. While some of the folks at major bars will find travel tales annoying, at Poacher's you'll find like-minded people ready and eager to share in your traveling glee. Fare warning, the beers are warm and the music is overly loud, but the people are great!

Local Expert tip: For backpackers, this is a cheap place to meet other travelers.

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A popular lounge bar that offers "VIP service" in a dimly-lit setting. Can be something of a pick-up bar, but its soothing live jazz and ambiant tunes make it a good option for a relaxing martini. This remains one of the city's more prestigious bars and is one of the best places to see and be seen. Dress to impress and don't show up before ten in the evening if you want to look and feel the part. Recently renovated, Centro now has a more impressive area for dancing, chatting up the hotties and a bit more bar space for ordering that much-needed second martini.

Local Expert tip: The place to see and be seen in Beijing.

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Bed Bar
Photo courtesy of Bed Bar

An ultra-chic New York-inspired cocktail bar with four poster beds, divans and big cushions to lie out on. Tucked down a lane and situated in an old courtyard house, Bed attracts a discerning clientele. Finger foods such as Spanish tapas are on hand to accompany cocktails. Highly recommended are the mojito and the sangria. There's also a small dance area for those who need a stretch and a break from all of the drinking. One tip is to wear comfortable, easy-to-remove shoes. You'll be able to slip them on and off as you climb off the beds for bathroom breaks, dancing or heading home.

Local Expert tip: Innovative cocktails, but don't wear hard-to-remove shoes.

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15 Qianhai Beiyan

Set in a picturesque Chinese pavilion on Houhai Lake, this trendy bar adjoins the highly prestigious Xiao Wang's Home restaurant and offers lovely views over the lake. Ideal for sundowners and those on romantic dates looking for a nice place to stroll with their loved one. Houhai Lake, located in central Beijing just above the Forbidden City, offers one of the most convenient places to launch a pub crawl including nearby Gulou and Nanluoguxiang in the lovely Beijing hutongs. You can explore the delightful hutongs that Beijing is famous for along your pub crawl and still experience some of the city's more impressive bars and pubs.

Local Expert tip: Head here late at night for a more fun, local experience.

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Meet Lauren Johnson

Lauren has been living in Asia for the past five years. She holds a master's degree in Asian history. Lauren spends her free time reading, writing and traveling and visiting zoos in every city possible.