Finding the Party in Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou is a strange place.

It’s bustling in the daytime, but when nighttime falls the streets clear and the city empties. It’s peaceful, or maybe even eerie. As one of the top 3 largest cities in China, this wasn’t exactly what we were expecting.

Sometimes, as we walked home from a night out, we could imagine the odd tumbleweed whistling over the empty roads.

It might not have been this extreme in every area of the city, but one of our first impressions on arrival was that there seemed to be a lack of nightlife.

While there were bars more catered for dining, pub quizzes and the 11pm finishers, there didn’t seem to be the late-night parties. The bars we found at first were okay, but we like a late finish after a week at work (or, really, any time we can fit it in), and nowhere was providing that for us.

So we became determined to seek out these party places – and we found some gems.

If you ever find yourself in Guangzhou, wanting to get away from the typical western pub, here’s our top recommendations:


KTV is everywhere here! If you have a group of friends ready for a good night, you can rent a private room, buy some booze, order a ton of local food, and sing the night away. Most KTVs will let your crowd stay until about 5am.

The English playlists are fantastic, ranging through all the classics in every genre. No matter where your music tastes go, you’ll find something you’ll love.

But don’t think you can’t meet new people and socialize on a KTV night. I have found myself drunkenly exploring the mazy corridors, finding some rooms full of locals, and being welcomed in to sing with them and have a bounce around.

Some we’d recommend:

Music Box (堂会) – 1-3/F, Tianhe Hui Plaza, 160, Tianhe Zhi Jie, Tianhe District, Guangzhou.

Party World (钱柜) – SinoPec Building, 191 Tiyu Xi Lu, Tianhe District, Guangzhou

Top KTV (星派对) – Junhui Building, Tiyu Xi Rd, in Guangzhou

Sing the night away at KTV. 


In quiet Zhujiang New Town, you’d think a bouncing nightclub would stick out like a sore thumb. It doesn’t. Nova is relatively hidden, but it’s well worth the find.

It’s popular with the locals, and being a foreigner in this place will make you stand out. That shouldn’t put you off. The music is great and you’ll easily get a buzz from the local liquor, Baijiu, which is pretty much all they serve.

Zhujiang New town has a lot of bars suited for pre-drinks, such as The Brew, The Tavern, and Gails – but it’s harder to find somewhere close by to finish the night. Make this your place.

Address: 1/F, Jin Bin Teng Yue Building, No.49 Huaxia Road, Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe

Address in Chinese: 天河区华夏路49号津滨腾越大厦1楼


Feelings, now known as BePotatoes, is a must if you want an extremely cheap night. Some of their promotions seem too good to be true. One Friday they were giving unlimited free beer until 11 – no catch!  Most nights their (already very cheap) drinks were half price.

Found right near the South China Normal University, it’s a popular student choice. We can see why. Amongst our search we never found anywhere else this cheap, and we tried.

Keep in mind, a Long Island iced tea might come out bright blue, but that was really just part of the fun. You never know what you’re going to get, but you’ll get it without a dent to your bank account.

Sometimes with a side of hilarious karaoke – with a free bottle of vodka for the most popular singer, typically shared with the crowd.

Tsingtao is the cheapest beer you will find in there, but beware the hangover is like no other.

Address: Shop 207, Shangde Mansion, 141 Wushan Road, Tianhe District, Guangzhou (Metro Line 3 South China Normal University, exit C)

Address in Chinese: 广州天河区五山路141号尚德大厦207(地铁站华师站C出口麦当劳楼上)

Tsingtao is lethal 🙂


Perry’s is a chain in China, and there are a couple in Guangzhou. It’s another place often filled with university students, but in an expensive drinking city this is sometimes welcome.

What should you expect? A dark dingy room with an unexpected charm, blaring loud music, and crowds of people at every table. You’ll notice most people playing an addicting dice game similar to Bullshit. If you want to play, a table of locals will be happy to show you how and play a few rounds with you.

 Address: 3/F, Zhong Yi City Garden, No.21 Linle Road, Tianhe District, Guangzhou

Address in Chinese: 天河区 林乐路中怡城市花园3楼

After a cheap night at Perrys

 Party Pier

Party Pier is Guangzhou’s most well-known entertainment destination, balancing well between a crazy party and a space for art and creativity. It’s another good ending spot for your night. You can tell your taxi driver “Take me to the party!” and you’ll end up here. Wave Nightclub is among its most popular spots, but there are a number of different places to choose from.

Address: Zhujiang Party Pier, Yue Jiang Xi Lu, Haizhu District (Exit at Modiesha Tunnel)

Address in Chinese: 阅江西路珠江琶醍啤酒文化创意园

 Huanshi Dong Lu

There are many fun bars in Huanshi Dong Lu (near Taojin subway station). While this is often promoted to be a heavily western area, we typically went during the week and rarely saw other foreigners around.

You can almost always find a good buy-one-get-one-free deal at one of the bars.

A couple we’d recommend include:

The Cave Bar: China, Guangdong Sheng, Guangzhou Shi, Yuexiu Qu, HuanShi DongLu YanXian, Huanshi E Rd, 360 510060. Address in Chinese: 环市东路360号珠江大厦地下

The Gypsy King Bar: Basement of West Tower, Zhujiang Building, No.360 Huanshi Dong Road, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou Address in Chinese: 环市东路360号珠江大厦西座地下

Some Random Bar by the River

Unfortunately, that’s all we can even remember for this one!

But we know you’ll be able to find your own unnamed random bar by the river (or park, or temple, or shopping mall) if you give this city a chance, dig under its quiet exterior, and really look.

The point is that there are some hidden gems and brilliant party spots in a city that might not give that vibe on arrival. Don’t just settle for the first Irish pub you find. Get out there and explore.

Our time in Guangzhou taught us something valuable for future travel. We like a party, and wherever we are, we can find one – and we will!

If you find any more hidden beauties in Guangzhou, let us know below.





A Crazy Quick History of the Forbidden City: What You Should Know Before You Go

If you’re planning a trip to Beijing, chances are the Forbidden City is near the top of your must-sees. It definitely was for us – it was the first place we visited, even before finding a hotel for the night.

But, we’ll confess, we didn’t know too much about it when we arrived. We just knew it was a globally-revered tourist attraction, and that we couldn’t visit this ancient city without having a look.

This is a situation we often find ourselves in: exploring a place filled with history but not really understanding what we’re seeing and why. I always plan to prep myself beforehand with tons of research, but the next thing I know I’m boarding the plane and I still don’t really know the significance of what I’m about to see.

And while I am a bookworm who honestly can spend all day on the couch reading, when I’m out and about, we find that we don’t have much patience for reading plaques in museums or other tourist hot spots. We like to keep moving!

Can you relate? If so we’d like to help, starting with Beijing’s Forbidden City.

Here’s what you should know:


The simple answer is that this “city” was the home to the Emperors of China, and people were forbidden to enter or exit without his permission.

But there is also a bit more symbolism to it.

When written in Chinese characters, the name alludes to The North Star, where the Jade Emperor lives in the heavens. According to several common Chinese religions (Taoism, Caodaism, certain sects of Buddhism) this is the “first god,” often called “Heavenly Grandfather.”

The Forbidden City was seen as the earthly version of this mystical palace.

It was both a spiritual and political center for the nation.


In 1406, a new emperor (Zhu Di) moved the Chinese capital to Beijing from Nanjing. Here he began construction of his residence: The Forbidden City.

It took 14 years and over 1 million workers.

In its history as a royal residence, it housed 24 emperors from two dynasties.


The Forbidden City is filled with symbolism if you know how to find it.

During the Ming dynasty, the predominant theme of the Forbidden City was supremacy.

The Qing dynasty emphasized harmony, and also added a lot of shamanistic imagery.

Keep an eye out for these symbols:

  • Colors – Yellow was the color of the emperor and his empire. You’ll see that most rooftops are a dark yellow. Green rooftops are above the residences of the princes – this was believed to encourage growth. The library has a black rooftop, which brought protection to the books and knowledge inside.
  • Numbers – The organization of the buildings often includes groups of six or groups of three. Six represented heaven, and three represented Earth. The overall message was that this was a place where divinity and humanity mingled together.
  • Jade – In Chinese culture, jade’s significance is similar to our views about gold in the west. It represented wealth and beauty. There are also superstitions that it could preserve health and prolong life.


The Forbidden City ceased to be a place of residence when Imperial China came to an end in the early 1900s. It is now open to the public, with several bragging rights as a museum:

  • It is the most visited art museum in the world.
  • It has over a million works of art in its permanent collection.
  • It has the largest collection of art from the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368).
  • It has the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures.

These are just the basics to give you an idea of what to expect at the Forbidden City, and why it is so important to the history and culture of China. Have you visited? What would you add to the list?