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Sleepless in Shanghai

When darkness falls, Shanghai starts to shine. As one of the most fast-paced and diverse cities in China, Shanghai is known for its abundant nightlife options. In 2017, CBNweekly rated 338 Chinese mainland cities' nightlife index based on a range of factors, such as the operating hours of its metro system and the number of nightclubs. According to the report, Shanghai's nightlife ranked highest among all cities, followed by Shenzhen and Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province, and Beijing.

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Photos: VCG and Lu Ting/GT


Once the sun goes down

For foreigners living and/or working in Shanghai, what do they do for fun once the sun goes down? Are they satisfied with the city's nightlife options? And what are the differences between foreigners' night-lifestyle and that of Chinese night moths? To glean insight into this topic, the Global Times interviewed a number of expats around town.

Angus Stewart from Scotland has been in Shanghai for two years. When he gets off work, he said his method of relaxing is quite British. "I just like to go home and drink a cup of black tea with milk. Nothing brings me more peace than a cup of tea after work," he told the Global Times 

Stewart joined a writing group in Shanghai with like-minded foreigners, which has given him something else to do. "The group meets once every two weeks, and our meeting lasts for about two hours in the evening," he said.

Philip (pseudonym) from the US has been working in Shanghai for a few years. He told the Global Times that he usually exercises, relaxes at home or studies Chinese. Since his job is based in China, sometimes he has conference calls in the evenings with colleagues in the US or Europe, Philip added. 

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Philip (pseudonym) from the US



Most foreigners we interviewed said they tend to go to bars, clubs or restaurants after work. For example, Maria Baneva from Bulgaria said she often meets up with friends at local bars or dining spots. "After a hard day of work, people need to relax. My mood is always happy if I have more time to enjoy life," she added.

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Maria Baneva from Bulgaria



Likewise, Ben from the UK said he usually meets his friends for drinks or food or just watches a movie. "Work is stressful sometimes, so spending time with friends helps me relax and chill out," he said. "It is very important to have a balance between working hard and having fun." 

Kenneth (pseudonym) from Sweden, who has been living in Shanghai for only seven months, said he usually goes out for dinner with his friends or girlfriend. "Dinner always leads to something else, either a bar, a club or an event somewhere," Kenneth added.

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Kenneth (pseudonym) from Sweden



Irina from Russia said she prefers to simply take a long walk on the streets or in a park, or sit in a coffee shop. "Just to help my mind relax from work," she said, adding that if she feels too tired to go out, she will stay at home.

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Irina (right) from Russia



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Photos: VCG and Lu Ting/GT



Diverse options

Almost all of our interviewees said they have much more nightlife options in Shanghai than in their own hometowns. 

Kenneth, for instance, said that he comes from Stockholm, which is a small city in Sweden with only 1 million people, whereas Shanghai is home to over 24 million people. "There are lots of cool and amazing clubs here. I love it!" he said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Baneva, who said that in Shanghai she has easy access to various nightclubs and restaurants with authentic food from different cultures around the world.

As for Ben, he thinks Shanghai has more options than Britain when it comes to weekday evenings, as UK venues tend to close early on weekdays. "Throughout the week there is a lot more to do in Shanghai. [British] people are more likely to do things on a Saturday or a Sunday," Ben told the Global Times.

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Ben from the UK



"Whereas in Shanghai, I think you can do anything on any night. There are always things to do during the work week."

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Photos: VCG and Lu Ting/GT


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