Suzhou's bar scene has long been large and foreign-friendly, but today it's in transition and it can be a little hard to find the right place for a good night out. It used to be that nightlife was centred around Shiquan Street – the two-block long row of foreign bars, KTVs and chicken bars that served as a starting point to the larger Chinese clubs on the streets around.
Today the bar scene, like most of what's happening in Suzhou, is moving out to the Jinji Lake area. The vast complex of restaurants, bars, clubs, coffee shops and outlet stores known as Ligongdi is a little pricier than old Shiquan Street was, but it's much larger and has a great range of places to go.
Shiquan Street Bars
Since Shiquan Street is deep inside downtown Suzhou, near the university, it's mostly frequented by students, teachers and visitors. This means cheap drinks and, since the more family-oriented bar goers are out near the lake, Shiquan can get a little rowdy.
1) Pulp FictionView In Map
Once the centre of much of Suzhou's nightlife, Pulp Fiction still has a mighty presence on the street. The first floor has a huge projection screen that plays a variety of sports, ranging from English football to Moto GP. The quieter second floor has pool, darts, and faster service. Most holiday nights out start at Pulp, thanks to its legendary specials, like green beer for St. Patrick's Day and bottles of whiskey or vodka for winners for the Halloween costume contest.
Add: 453 Shiquan Street, Suzhou
Tel: 139 1404 8142
2) The Drunken ClamView In Map
Keeping up the tradition of naming expat bars after beloved TV and movies, the Drunken Clam is the new traditional hangout for teachers, students and Family Guy fans. The tiny, five-table bar is rarely empty on any night, and is often packed during events like Comedy Night and the Wednesday Beer Pong Tournament. Upstairs, Tony Montana's Pizza slings out quality pies to accompany the raucous evening.
Add: 77 Shiquan St., Suzhou
Tel: 139 1404 8142
The Best of Ligongdi
Although there are places to drink throughout the Ligongdi area, most are concentrated in the 1912 bar Street. Chances are, if you say “Ligongdi” to a taxi driver, he will drop you off at the entrance to 1912.
1) TunnelView In Map
One of the first bars to open in 1912 Street, Tunnel is the Ligongdi branch of Pulp Fiction. A little darker and more austere, Tunnel is more geared towards bar-goers looking for a place to start their evening, and is a good place to meet up and chat. Buy one get one free Happy Hour runs until 9:00 so if you get your first beer early enough you can put a good dent in your night out at Tunnel.
Add: Building A7, 1912 Fashion block, Ligongdi, Suzhou
Tel: 0512 6296 3115
2) HofbrauView In Map
Although Hofbrau is as much a German restaurant as a brewery, they have a few really nice German-style beers like wheat and white beer. Outside the Bavarian style beer hall, there are a few long, wooden outdoor tables with a great view of the lake. It's Ligongdi prices: a half litre can go for 50-65 RMB. You might as well get the full litre for only a few RMB more: it is, after all, real beer.
Add: 50, 52 Ligongdi, SIP, Suzhou
Tel: 0512 6295 0988
3) PravdaView In Map
Probably the most foreign-friendly club in 1912 after the infamous Scarlet, and probably has the best table-to-dance floor ratio in town. It's typically Chinese techno but is still one of the best places to sweat it out on the dance floor. Like most clubs, you'll have to get at least a dozen beers or a bottle of whiskey to get a table, so get a few people together to split the cost. You can also try to join in on some Chinese customer's table if you've got the language level – they'd probably be happy to host you.
Add: B19, Shuifang Rd., Outlets, Ligongdi, SIP, Suzhou
Tel: 150 5155 8248
4) ScarletView In Map
What 1912 Bar Street would be complete without Scarlet? Smaller than its Nanjing counterpart, Scarlet serves the same purpose in Suzhou: to be a loud, expensive, crowded, even dangerous dance club that everyone inexplicably goes to. Perhaps it's because you don't have to get a bottle to stay here, just a 5 RMB tequila shot (the hangover-intensifying Pepe Lopez tequila flavoured liquor, of course), or perhaps it's because the music has a slight foreign tendency, Scarlet is frequently the ending point to a night at Ligongdi. Keep your wits about you, though: more than one misunderstanding has led to a fight in the square in front of Scarlet.
Add: 1912 Ligongdi Rd., SIP, Suzhou
Tel: 0512 6518 7877
It seems like new bars and restaurants are opening every day in Ligongdi, and there are plenty of other places to have a fun night out. There are also a few all-you-can-eat all-you-can-drink Teppanyaki and sushi restaurants, as well as Mexican, German, and Italian venues which serve specialties from their native countries. There's nowhere that's cheap, but plenty of places that are fun.
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Keywords: Ligongdi street Suzhou Shiquan Street Suzhou nightlife in Suzhou best bars in Suzhou
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