Drinking Culture in Xi’an

Li Bai would often show up drunk to the Emperor’s court in Chang’An (modern day Xi’an), but would still be able to perform his duties. He so impressed the Tang Dynasty’s Emperor that he is now a symbol of the city of Xi’an. A symbol that has influenced the former capital’s attitude toward drinking.

The first bar we went to was recommended on TripAdvisor. Belgian Bar is near the south of Xi’an’s historic wall. It is also a hostel, and it runs bar crawls. I figured it might be a good place to start out. Unfortunately, even on a Friday night the place was mostly dead so we decided to move on.

The Craic

We knew of an Irish bar in the city so, me being a Plastic Paddy, we thought it would be fun to visit. It took us nearly an hour walking along the wall to get to it. Along the way we saw some great street art that had been commissioned by the city. Just outside the west side of the wall is a small park, and inside the park you will find The Craic.

The Craic lives up to its name. The owners and bar staff are friendly, and you will usually find yourself talking, singing, and maybe even dancing with the other patrons. At one point they strapped a guitar to me and I gave the worst rendition of Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind that anyone has ever performed. It still earned me an extra shot toward my hangover at least.

We would return here later in the week and get to know the owners a bit more. The founder of the bar was a Chinese woman who lived in Ireland for a long time. She loved the country so much that she wanted to bring a part of it to her home city.


The first place we stayed in Xi’an was far out from the center of the city. Still, there were some interesting bars in the area, so after filling ourselves up with hotpot we decided to check the scene. We found a near empty bar where a local band was playing. On seeing me, they played an English song for me. We ended up chatting with someone else at the bar, who turned out to be the owner of a manufacturing company.

We left together and went to a nearby club. This club was nothing like the huge clubs in Shanghai where you get free “alcohol” as a foreigner. It was somewhere between a Western style bar and a Chinese bar, with live bands performing Xi’an music. Our new friend tried to get them to play an English song for us, but unfortunately they didn’t know any. Another local joined us, and he was extremely happy that I was there.

Eventually we were tired enough to go home. Our new friends were sad to see us leave, but we exchanged WeChats in the hopes of meeting again.


Xi’an is the home of street performances. No matter where you go you will stumble upon bands and dancers performing live. Xi’an is a city that is proud of their performing arts, and you can often see local musicians and dancers for free.

One of the best places to see a band is the city wall. Under the arches, bands will set up and perform, sometimes even interacting and performing with people who happen to be nearby. You generally won’t find people drinking here, but you can wander to a nearby convenience store and pick up a can if you’re tempted to do so.


After eating hot pot yet again, and some live street performances, we decide to go to a club where a couple of bands were playing. It wasn’t too busy, but it was fun to see two local rock bands perform. If you’re looking for live music in Xi’an, it’s easy to find.

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