The Box 老夫子View In Map
Somewhere in its five year history Laofuzi (Old Master) became The Box, or was it the other way round? Anyway, as a compromise this small, quirky bar anonymously situated in the middle of Wenhua Xiang keeps both names in Chinese and English respectively. Currently under Italian ownership, The Box has a wide variety of imported wines and beers and serves the best pizza in Kunming if you like yours with an Italian-style thin crust. Special offers throughout the week ensure a steady crowd and an impressive indie-rock-electro music collection, donated from a series of owners over the bar's history, often escalate a quiet evening drink into a full blown party. The only bar on the top five list, The Box makes the cut for its spontaneity, eclectic clientele, friendly atmosphere and its position as premier staging post for the night ahead on Fridays and Saturdays.
Tuesday, all imported beers 10% off, 20:00-22:00
Wednesday, all bottles 15% off, all glasses 10% off, 20:00-22:00
Thursday, aperitivo - Italian-style buffet, 19:00-21:00, free with purchase of one drink
Add: 69 Wenhua Xiang, Wenlin Jie, Kunming
Tel: 0871 536 2137
Opening hours: 10-24:00, last drinks at 23:30
Uprock 俱乐部View In Map
There’s something about Uprock that reminds you of your college years. Perhaps it’s all the themed parties. So far this year there’s been a carnival party, retro party, Russian party, mad hatter’s tea party and a fluorescent party, and those are just the ones that can be remembered! If fancy dress isn’t your thing however, don’t let Uprock put you completely off. Its DJ fuelled club nights are probably some of Kunming’s best and attract an impressive array of acts from all over China. The music lineup is varied but tends towards electronic or hip-hop. To top it off there is a spacious dance floor, which is a far cry from the squashed sweat pits of the uniform Chinese disco style clubs that pack Kundu, a five minute walk away. What really gets us excited about Uprock though is the huge outdoor terrace area that spans two levels. It’s perfect for cocktails on cool Kunming summer nights but also has a generously heated seating area for when it gets cold. A xiaokao stand is situated towards the back of the terrace, which under normal circumstances would probably be best avoided, but is ideal for the drunken munchies in the early hours of the morning. See the frequent fliers and posters outside of cafes and youth hostels in Kunming for up to date info as to what event is going on.
Add: 267 Xichang Lu, Kunming
Tel: 158 0881 5075, 138 8800 1105
Opening hours: 20:00 till late
Halfway House 半山咖啡View In Map
Hidden up some stairs at the intersection of Dongfengxi Lu and Kunshi Lu, is Halfway House. There’s sure to be a good crowd on Friday and Saturday evenings but other days of the week are a bit hit and miss. Halfway used to host a truly memorable open mic on Monday night, where you could hear everything from throaty renditions of Nirvana songs to excited jazz solos, which would frequently snowball into full orchestras as other musicians got drawn in from the crowd. Inexplicably (although that word seems somewhat obsolete in China), the open mic night has recently been discontinued. Don’t be too disheartened, however. Halfway’s snug, if rather unexciting, interior and cheap, chilled Tsingtao beer on tap still makes for a good night. Music is provided by guest DJs or occasional live acts and who knows, by the time you read this maybe the open mic night will be back. Halfway House is definitely still worth a look, especially after the cafes and bars have all closed at midnight up the road on Wenlin Jie.
Add: Intersection of Dongfeng Xilu and Kunshi Lu, Near Wuhan People’s Hospital, Kunming
Tel: 0871 535 2702
Opening hours: 20:00 till late
The Hump Bar 驼峰酒吧View In Map
The Hump Bar can be found downstairs from the popular Hump Hostel on the southeast corner of Jinmabiji Fang. Since a friendly German took over the management of the bar a couple of years ago, The Hump has pulled in the mostly expat crowds on Friday and Saturday nights with live rock and blues acts. The bar has a cozy atmosphere with a small dance floor in front of the stage. In what is a relatively expensive area of town, The Hump’s cheap Chinese beer and diverse range of reasonably priced foreign beers ensure a steady crowd throughout the week (the beer is cold, which you won’t find in the dance clubs behind the square). The Hump also manages to put a few tables outside, which makes for great al fresco drinking and also offers a fantastic place for watching the diverse nightlife strut and stumble by.
Add: 1/F, Jinbi Plaza, Jinbi Lu, Kunming
Tel: 0871 364 6229
Opening hours: 10:00-late
Speakeasy 说吧View In Map
Set underground in the spacious end of a second world war tunnel that runs under Kunming (the other end emerges near the zoo), Speakeasy is somewhat of a legend in Kunming. Once it was not uncommon to see the police outside, usually after some drunken foreigner had tried his moves on a Chinese girl with her boyfriend and friends sitting beside her. Speakeasy seems to have calmed down in the last year or two but most importantly it still remains the venue of choice for China’s indie, punk and rock acts for the Kunming leg of their national tours. A recent renovation has helped tremendously and seen the disappearance of what must have been a contender for Kunming’s worst toilet. However, for better or worse the décor inside is still dark, gothic and slightly sleazy. Snapping out of a drunken vacancy people often find themselves staring into the eyes of the lascivious looking devil painted on the wall next to the bar behind the two pool tables. Cheap Dali and Tsingtao beer and an open mike night on Wednesday ensure that the Speakeasy is never completely empty.
Add: 445 Dongfeng Xilu, Kunming
Tel: 0871 532 7047
Opening hours: 22:00-late
Also Worth a Mention:
1895 Movie Bar, 1895电影主题酒吧View In Map
Add: 106 Wacangzhuang, Sanheying, Kunming
Tel: 0871 361 2661
The Tuesday open mike night is always good fun.
Camel Bar 骆驼酒吧View In Map
Add: 4 Tuodong Lu, Kunming
A Kunming institution that seems to have lost its special something after the move to Tuodong Lu turned it too much into a café. Still worth a look on Friday and Saturday nights when there are live music acts.
Laowo Bar 老窝酒吧 View In Map
Add: Yiyuan Xiang, across from Yunnan Art Institute front gate
A complete dive but great fun. Fast challenging Speakeasy for the crown of best rock/punk venue with its impressive lineup of Chinese bands.
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