For some people, China seems to be a very conservative and traditional country where people hardly do crazy things such as partying. Well, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Chinese know how to have fun drinking cages of beer and wine!
People keep asking us:
“What are you guys up to at the weekends in China?”
“Do Chinese know how to party at all?”
“Where do you go on Friday’s nights?”
One word answers all of these questions – KTV.
It’s a word Chinese use for karaoke. KTV is a place (kind of bar or club) where Chinese go to have fun on week days as well as weekends. They book fancy looking rooms with huge TV screens on the walls, order plenty of appetizers (grilled chicken legs, dry fruits, nuts, various smoked meat and fish, spicy veggies) and at least two cages of beer.
Karaoke: How it works in China
If you have ever been to any karaoke club in your home country, you know that people sing songs on a stage in front of strangers. It’s completely different in China. Karaoke clubs consist of private rooms you can book for a minimum time (from 1 hours onward) . There are different sizes of rooms depending on the number of your friends.
Dark rooms and its purple lighting make you feel very comfortable and relaxed. There is a huge leather sofa in the middle of the room with a table and small chairs around.
All KTVs are full-service. You can order some Chinese snacks as well as alcoholic drinks. For those who don’t drink alcohol, there is a great variety of Chinese teas (jasmine, red, green), coffees (black, cappuccino, latte) or fizzy pops (sprite, coke). You can eat and drink while singing songs throughout the affair.
Drinks and snacks are much more expensive than in local restaurants (at least double the price). If you don’t want to overspend, bring your own food and hide it under the table so the staff can’t see it :).
The food is served on small plates and it is decorated with some flowers. Glamorous look of everything is a must.
Chinese go to KTVs in the evening. Many clubs in big cities are open 24/7 so it can be any time and any day activity. Some Chinese go there on a date (because the first date should not be a 1 on 1 type) :).
Singing songs is the fun part. Everyone selects some songs and wait for their turn to sing. There is a huge selection of Chinese as well as English songs so you can have a go as well.
What we love about KTVs is that you don’t need to be a professional singer to have fun. Everyone tries and has fun, people dance and cheer for you.
Booking a room for one hour usually costs RMB 100-300 ($16-$50) depending on the size. Drinks and food are very expensive. A case of beer (12 bottles) costs between RMB 100 -300 ($16-$50), a small plate of meat should be around RMB 30 ($5). When in KTV, you should be extra careful of what you are ordering. If you get drunk and go overboard on food you can end up paying more than RMB 600 ($100) per night and I guess it’s way too much. You can split the costs between your friends as well. The good news is we never paid for it as Chinese treated us and the bill was always on them. We had fun and were treated like guests without spending a yuan (perks of being foreigner in China) :).
- Make sure you can speak some Chinese before you decide to go to KTV on your own to book a room. Otherwise, Chinese might try to get the last yuan out of you and you will not even notice it.
- Make sure you keep an eye on your bill if you know you are going to pay it.
- Make sure the club has some English songs if you are planning to sing.
- Be ready to get drunk as there are plenty of toasts involved.
- Ask the staff or one of your friends to explain to you how to operate the song system (typically there’s a way to search for songs alphabetically).
- Try not to turn down the “KTV night out” offer if your friends invite you – in Chinese culture it may be considered rude and impolite.
- There are some KTV clubs where you can order Chinese girls to “help you entertain yourself”. Don’t do that. Firstly – it’s very expensive, secondly – you can end up being blackmailed for raping a girl (cameras are in every room and gangsters are the “calm” type, a friend with such experience told us) and thirdly – these girls are often forced to have sex with customers so I guess you wouldn’t want to get involved.
- Don’t order any food or drinks without checking their prices.
- If everyone is having fun and you feel bored, wait till it is all over, don’t leave the room as first – it might be perceived as rude.
- Don’t be shy and sing as well!
To go or not to go?
To sum up, KTV is a great idea to spend an interesting and full of fun and laugh night out with your friends. You can experience authentic Chinese culture, listen to some traditional Chinese music, drink as much as you want and try some Chinese food, more ofthen than not – for FREE! :). I wouldn’t ask for more, would you?
Video of our last visit to KTV
Last time we have recorded a video of our experience in KTV. Just a warning: we speak in Polish for the first 20 seconds or so, because it’s for our Polish YouTube Channel – eTrampy. Afterwards, you can see first hand what it’s like to be there.