When I first moved to Nanning, I started dreaming about draft beer. The slosh of a good pint; a fine, softly dissolving head of foam. But more than the drink itself, I missed the pub experience: sitting down with a friend or two and letting the day’s work slough off us. Chinese bars often seemed as frenetic as the streets, full of undecipherable finger games and strange pickled snacks. While Western beers remain few and far between in Nanning, the city does have several quiet places to relax after work. Here are a few of the city’s best low-key bars.
1) Le Monde 乐梦 View In Map
People don’t usually associate libraries with alcohol. But this bar sprawls across the courtyard of the Nanning Library, stealing a little of that institution’s peaceful atmosphere. Le Monde, commonly referred to as “The Library Bar,” rings one side of a small pond. Picnic tables punctuate the pond’s curve, with wicker chairs tucked beneath the trees.
The interior resembles a greenhouse, with one glass wall overlooking the patio and the library beyond. Vividly decorated with international flags, which presumably justify the bar’s name, Le Monde also has a magazine rack for customers to browse and a shelf displaying the busts of American jazz musicians.
Le Monde serves a few serviceable bottles of red wine, all over 100 RMB, as well as the standard brews and simple cocktails. A local beer costs 10 RMB; well drinks cost 20 RMB; import beers such as Heineken will set you back only slightly more. The menu includes snacks such as French fries, donut-style confections and kabobs. The shrimp jiao zi (dumplings), boiled and then lightly fried, make a great happy hour snack (15 RMB).
Add: 61 Minzu Dadao, inside the main gate of the Nanning Library on the left side, Nanning
地址: 南宁市民族大道 61 号区图书馆正门人内左边
Tel: 0771 6109 998
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 – 02:00
2) Nanhu Bar Street 南湖酒吧街
South Lake curves like a comma through the center of Nanning, an oasis of water and greenery among the commercial bustle. Along the southwestern corner of the lake lies one of the city’s best little lanes. One side of Nanhu Bar Street is lined with delightful architectural oddities. Each multi-story bar is hung with lanterns, and blaring its own slightly-outdated Western rock music. The street winds away from the bars, dead-ending in a lakeside path. A line of trees screens the water across the street.
All the Nanhu bars serve similar fare. Aussie-run Kangaroo Bar has a large ground-floor patio and big-screen TV, which often shows music concerts. The food at Nanhu bars is simple: chips, fried noodles and other salty Chinese dishes. Each venue serves a basic array of Chinese brews for around 10 RMB per bottle. Liquor must usually be bought by the bottle rather than individual glasses. Kangaroo Bar also offers Western-style sandwiches and serves a few German beers.
More than the menu, it’s the ambience. On the lakeside, traffic noise fades. Occasional taxis offer transport, but not distraction. Up on a balcony, with a cold brew in hand, it’s easy to feel far away from the pressure of work and city life.
Like Le Monde, Nanhu is largely exposed to the elements. In Nanning’s famously humid summers, this can be a blessing. But it can get chilly at night, especially out on the balconies, so bring a coat in the winter months.
Nanhu Jiuba Jie 南湖酒吧街 View In Map
Add: Xinghu Lu, Nanning
By bus: From downtown, take the No. 205 bus to Guangxi Arts College (广西艺术学院), get off at the West Gate and walk down between the barriers along the lakeside. The bars begin around 400 metres down the road.
By taxi: Tell the driver “Nanhu Jiuba Jie” (南湖酒吧街)
Kangaroo Bar & Coffee Shop 金袋鼠餐吧 View In Map
Add: Xinghu Lu, Nan Yi Li, 73 Nanhucun, Nanning
Opening hours: 12:00 – 02:00
3) Secret Secret 秘密 View In Map
Among Nanning’s expat community, it’s a poorly kept secret. Secret Secret’s quiet location and pub ambiance make it a popular after-work meeting point. Eased back from Nanning’s bustling commercial road, in a courtyard ringed by apartments, the Secret Bar feels like an escape. Outside, children chase balls in the courtyard; a few old women stretch, warming up for their evening aerobics. Hardly anyone wanders in off the street.
Secret Bar is one of the only bars in Nanning with an actual bar, where customers can perch on stools, plop their elbows on the counter and strike up a conversation with the friendly British owners. Shelves display rows of pint glasses, gleaming like promises. Comfortable couches and a brick wall plastered with photography add to the coffeehouse feel. On the weekend, English football matches take priority, and are shown on several TVs and a projection system.
Cocktails, as well as a variety of Chinese and foreign beers, are available at Secret Bar. Standard cocktails cost around 20 RMB. The owner’s wife also cooks simple but delicious snacks, and the bar expands its menu in summertime to include Western brunch and lunch options.
Add: Inside the middle courtyard of Sunshine 100 Buildings, 63 Minzu Dadao, Nanning
地址: 南宁市民族大道 63 号阳光100中庭广场内
Tel: 150 0771 2681 or 135 5711 8234
Opening hours: Daily, 19:00 until last man standing. Open for lunch in summer (hours variable).
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Keywords: Nanning bars low-key bars Nanning western bars Nanning
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This article appears old. I went to find Le Monde and there was boarding around the side of the library with what looked a new building construction next door. Also went to find Secret Secret in a courtyard nearby and what I found was presumably a coffee house under the name of Ice Coffee which had a bar and stools and could see a variety of beer bottles, although didn't try on this occasion.
Jan 20, 2018 23:34 Report Abuse
For information, me and the the other guy, (I am the smoker) sold the Secret bar well over a year ago, yes to a german who consequently sold to a Chinese girl. I now own the XK Bar, a short walk away, and yes I still smoke, but no-one will be hitting on your girlfriends, as I and my wife own this bar. Look us up on here. Just For You is long gone and the newly renovated Le Monde prices will make your eyes water. We were never expensive and still aren't by local standards.
Jul 28, 2013 03:15 Report Abuse
The Secret Bar was a great disappointment. First we sat outside but got eaten alive by mozzies and flying ants. It wasn't much better inside as everyone including the staff and owners were smoking - don't they have extractor fans to clear the fog? Expensive beer and poor selection of mediocre food and poor service from the Chinese staff. One owner was a loud, loutish tattooed man whose job was to hit on my woman and the other owner just sat at the bar smoking and tapping away on a laptop, Le Monde is much better and in an attractive setting.
Oct 02, 2011 19:27 Report Abuse
The Secret Bar is nothing great, in fact, it is a dump. The Chinese staff are rude and stupid, so are the owners. This is a low class place frequented by slutty prostitute type Chinese women and foreigners.
Go to Just for You, 100 metres away, a good cafe with high class food and customers.
Nov 11, 2011 18:03 Report Abuse
My mate and I are travelling through South China to get to Vietnam and staying in Nanning for 3 days. found this article last night before going out and checked out the kangaroo bar and secret. kangaroo bar was little disappointing since the bar was dead quite when we got there and only managed to fill one other table by the time we left(9:30pm). Secret on the other hand was way more enjoyable, good-valued drinks and lovely atmosphere, freshly made snacks were nice and fairly cheap. will visit secret again for sure when we return from Vietnam^_^
May 16, 2011 18:29 Report Abuse
Thanks Caitlin for your kind, appreciative review. It's lovely to see that someone enjoys our Bar (Secret). I'm sure we must have met as you are so knowlegeable about us but I really can't place a face. Too many late nights!! Come again soon, I'm sure I'll say 'oh it was YOU!'! Drinks on me..
Kev - Secret Bar
Apr 08, 2011 07:07 Report Abuse